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Thriller: The Complete Series

4.5 out of 5 stars 245 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Now available for the first time ever in any format, experience the complete series hailed as the most frightening ever created for television. Horror legend Boris Karloff (Frankenstein) guides you through 67 unforgettable episodes of suspense, murder and relentless terror, featuring a stellar cast of stars from the golden age of TV. These tales from the minds of such masterful writers as Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Bloch (Psycho), and Cornell Woolrich (Rear Window) include a murderous cursed painting, a supernatural mirror, a demonic tailor's suit, and much more.

Now remastered and packed with hours of exclusive, fascinating extras, Thriller is the ultimate must-have collection for any horror or classic television fan. Featured stars include: William Shatner, Leslie Nielsen, Mary Tyler Moore, Elizabeth Montgomery, Rip Torn, Richard Chamberlain, Cloris Leachman, Alan Napier (Batman), Robert Vaughn (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.), Werner Klemperer Hogan's Heroes), Russell Johnson (Gilligan's Island), Donna Douglas (The Beverly Hillbillies), Richard Kiel (Moonraker), Marlo Thomas (That Girl), Edward Platt (Get Smart), Marion Ross (Happy Days), Tom Poston (Newhart), Natalie Schafer (Gilligan's Island), Richard Long (The Big Valley), Ursula Andress (Dr. No), and many more.

Image Entertainment's 14-disc presentation of the acclaimed anthology series Thriller is arguably among the most anticipated DVD releases for horror fans and vintage-TV aficionados alike. Hosted by screen legend Boris Karloff, who also appeared in five episodes of the series, and aired on NBC from 1960 to 1962, Thriller immediately earned a reputation as one of the most frightening programs ever broadcast on television--a legacy that endures some four decades after it left the airwaves. Though it featured an all-star lineup both in front of and behind the camera--actors such as William Shatner, Richard Chamberlain, Rip Torn, Leslie Nielsen, Elizabeth Montgomery, Warren Oates, Robert Vaughn, and Marlo Thomas were among its guest stars, while directors included veterans like John Brahm (The Lodger), John Newland (One Step Beyond), and actor-directors Ida Lupino, Paul Henreid, and Ray Milland--the chills of Thriller hinged on its stories. Psycho author Robert Bloch adapted several of his short tales for the series, including one of its most nerve-jangling episodes, "The Cheaters," about a pair of glasses that reveal terrifying truths to the wearer. Twilight Zone scribes Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont also contributed scripts, while others were based on stories by Cornell Woolrich, Edgar Allan Poe, and Conan creator Robert E. Howard; the latter provided the source material for "Pigeons from Hell," the episode widely regarded as the most terrifying of the series, with Brandon De Wilde as a young man who encounters restless spirits and a unique monster in an abandoned Southern mansion. Other standouts include Bloch's "The Grim Reaper," about a cursed portrait that brings death to its owners (including Shatner); "The Purple Room," with Torn as the skeptical inheritor of a haunted house, which viewers will immediately recognize as the Bates home from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho; and "La Strega," with Ursula Andress as a young woman bedeviled by her sorceress aunt.

The 14-disc Thriller: The Complete Series offers all 67 episodes of the series, each remastered and uncut for the first time since their original broadcast. Some 50 hours of supplemental features have also been included; chief among these are 24 hours of commentary tracks by Thriller participants like directors Arthur Hiller and Ted Post and actors Richard Anderson and Beverly Washburn (Spider Baby), as well as genre experts like Tim Lucas, David Schow, Gary Gerani, and Lucy Chase Williams. Episode promos and isolated score tracks by composers Jerry Goldsmith (The Omen) and Morton Stevens all help to underscore why no less an authority than Stephen King declared Thriller to be the best series of its type to ever air on television. --Paul Gaita

We chatted with the late Karloff's daughter, Sara--who runs Karloff Enterprises to preserve, protect, and share her father's memories--about her famous father and the Thriller series.

Sara-karloffQuestion: Thriller has been something of a Holy Grail for fans of suspense and horror and television. It must be a source of considerable pride to see it finally arrive on legitimate DVD. 

Karloff: Thriller has always been some of the most popular of my father's TV work. For years I have been receiving inquiries from his fans as to just when the series was going to be released in its entirety and what was holding it up and why Universal would not let it out for the fans to once again enjoy. I, of course, had no real answers to the fan's questions. So I, along with my father's fans, am delighted that the entire 67 episode series is finally being released and that Image Entertainment has done such an exceptional job with the DVDs and all of the extras.

Question: Though your father was best known as a movie star, he was actively involved in television from nearly its inception. Do you recall his feelings about the medium and Thriller in particular?

Karloff: In 1949 my father moved from Hollywood to New York. One of the major reasons for the move was to embrace the new medium of television. It was in its infancy and for those actors, like my father, who were accustomed to "take one," "take two," etc., live television could be terrifying. It was also thrilling and challenging.

My father fortunately was "a quick study" and had had almost 10 years of repertory theater training in British Columbia prior to his arrival in Hollywood. So that all helped him in his new endeavor. He loved the challenge of television and the whole new audience it gave his work. It also brought him an entire new body of work and allowed him to show the breadth of his talent.

My father had two other TV series of his own, Colonel March and The Veil, but Thriller was his favorite. He not only enjoyed his hosting duties and had great fun tailoring each introduction to the episode itself, but he appeared in several episodes. He was proud of the writing and directing by some of the finest writers and directors of the day, but the actors were first rate talent too.

Question: Like The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Thriller is fondly remembered by viewers, some of whom saw it during its original network run. To what do you attribute its longevity in the minds of critics and fans, including Stephen King?

Karloff: Thriller was well written, beautifully directed, and had some of the finest actors performing these great shows. As if that were not enough, the episodes were not gory. They were suspenseful and intelligent. They invited the audience along on the adventure; they included the audience in the experience;  they did not insult the audience's intelligence as some of today's viewing trash does.

It was the sheer quality of the content of the work of the participants--crew, writers, directors, actors, and my father's hosting--that made this magical package called Thriller and that has given it its long legs and its immense popularity with the fans.

Question: Your father appeared in five episodes of Thriller. Do you have a favorite among these?

Karloff: I really don't have a favorite episode in which my father appeared. I wish, and I think the fans do, too, that he might have appeared in a few more than just 5 out of the 67.

Question: Which aspects of the DVD set do you feel will delight fans the most?

Karloff: As with anything, it will be the new material--the extras on the DVDs that will delight the fans.  I wish there were more interviews with the people who worked on Thriller, but Image Entertainment has a beautiful product that the fans have been waiting for for a very long time. 

I know my father would be amazed and flattered beyond belief at the longevity and enormity of the legacy he has left and the multi-generational appeal of his wonderful work.
Please thank his fans for their continued interest in his work and his life. He truly was a lovely human being. --Paul Gaita

Special Features

All 67 episodes--remastered, uncut, and loaded with exclusive extras
27 new audio commentaries featuring Arthur Hiller, Patricia Barry, Ernest Dickerson, David Schow, Tim Lucas, Gary Gerani, Jim Wynorski, Richard Anderson, Lucy Chase Williams, Steve Mitchell, Marc Scott Zicree, Alan Brennert, Beverly Washburn, Larry Blamire, Jon Burlingame, Daniel Benton, Ron Borst, and Craig Reardon
Extensive promotional and production still galleries
Rare episode promos and the Thriller series promo
Isolated music and effects tracks for select episodes from composers Jerry Goldsmith and Morton Stevens

Product Details

  • Actors: Boris Karloff, William Shatner, Leslie Nielson, Rip Torn, Richard Chamberlain
  • Directors: Arthur Hiller, Douglas Heyes, Gerald Mayer, John Brahm, Jules Bricken
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 14
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: August 31, 2010
  • Run Time: 3354 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (245 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,307 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Tante Maren TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 1, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I am THRILLED that THRILLER is being released on August 31, 2010 this summer! Image Entertainment has put the entire series, which is two seasons, on 14 discs in this dvd set. All 67 one hour long chilling and some really frightening episodes will be seen in the original fantastic black and white film in all it's scary shadows and creepiness.

Thriller was originally shown on Tuesday nights in it's first 1960-1961 season on NBC from 9:00 to 10:00 p.m.. Because of parents complaints that the show was too scary for school age children, making them unable to sleep on a school night, NBC moved the show in it's second 1961 to 1962 season to Monday nights at a later time from 10:00 to 11:00 p.m.. The show began with it's host, the great Boris Karloff preparing it's audience for the great horrors and terrors that you were about to see and hear. Boris Karloff not only hosted the one hour long show, but starred in several episodes as well, adding his wonderfully brilliant performances to these extremely well written horror stories. The black and white film is perfect for the super eerie atmosphere of the scary stories and it really does add to the visual terror.

Stephen King calls Thriller the best horror series ever put on television. I call Thriller the only television series that gave me horrendous and terrifying, unable to sleep, nightmares as a child and I don't mean a few of the shows, but most of them! Most of the episodes feature the most disturbing stories of the macabre, twisted murders, terror and a few crime based episodes. The crime based episodes, though very excellent, full of twists and suspense, are not my favorites, as they are not as scary as the supernatural and macabre ones.
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There are many people who have probably heard about this series "Thriller" but have never seen it before. Many people likely do not know anything about the history of the show. I wanted to give a quick background of this groundbreaking series.
Executive producer Hubbel Robinson was quoted as saying "the show simply did not have enough time to find its identity". This was true on many levels. Originally slated for the 1960-61 season it was intended to be a successful mystery-suspense anthology series. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to expectations immediately. The first problem was that it was rushed into production based on Robinson's earlier successes of "Playhouse 90" and "Studio One". Robinson, along with producer Fletcher Markle and story editor James Cavanagh simply could not agree on what makes a "thriller" thrilling. The title itself was much too vague. The stories were a combination of both crime and horror, which just didn't mix well with its audience.
When the show aired its first episode in 1960 "Twisted Image", it was slammed by critics as being a repulsive story. The next show was even dubbed by critics as being "Worse than Murder". Worse yet, the audience was not tuning in. During the span of the first 8 episodes Robinson saw what he thought would be his masterpiece crumbling at its base. the critics were relentless, the ratings were low, and the sponsors were mad as a hatter.
Robinson had to make a change and FAST. After the 8th installment, new producers Maxwell Shane and William Frye were called in. Shane took over the crime shows and Frye worked on the horror stories. The new episodes, under new direction, were a combination of bone-chilling horror with supernatural overtones and violent crime dramas.
The new stories were definitely an improvement.
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Format: DVD
On Tuesday, April 18th, 1961, my brother and I first stumbled across "Thriller" via the network premiere of the first-rate episode "The Devil's Ticket"; after that, we never missed a show. ("The Devil's Ticket" remains of the 3 or 4 absolute best of the series--superb, deft scripting by Robert Bloch, plus flawless direction, scoring and acting...and remember as you watch...these guys had to crank out a complete, hour-long episode EVERY WEEK!)

MY BROTHER AND I WERE THERE on those 2 consecutive Tuesdays in June of '61 to witness the premieres of "Pigeons from Hell" and "The Grim Reaper", followed a week later by the re-run of "The Purple Room"; LORD, what a time it was--the Golden Age of TV at its horrific height!!! The "Untouchables" had largely managed to evade the censors in terms of its dark, brooding, violent content, and thus NBC and Hubbell Robinson, after weathering the initial chaotic identity crisis of the show, hit their stride as "Thriller" (running concurrently with "Twilight Zone", "Hitchcock Presents", Roald Dahl's "Way Out" and NBC's "Great Ghost Tales") began to earn its reputation as TV's All-Time Greatest Horror Show!

Even after all of the gruesome, demented stuff that has graced movie and TV screens during the past 5o years, "Thriller" still manages to rise above it. There's something that's very hard to put your finger on here...something that's somehow scarier, more disturbing than most anything you will encounter.
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