Thursday, November 4, 2010

TZ Promo: "The Howling Man" (11/04/1960)

"The Howling Man”
Season Two, Episode #5 (#41 overall)
Cayuga Production # 173-3642

Fifty years ago tonight, an innocent man got duped by the oldest liar in the world. We’ve seen him on the show before, in season one’s “Escape Clause,” and we’ll see him again repeatedly throughout the series. Each of his appearances are unique, just as I imagine they are in real life (if you believe in that sort of thing, that is). Who am I talking about, you ask? I’m getting pretty soft on my “spoiler free” mentality, so I’ll just come out and say it.

It’s the devil. Yeah, that guy.

“The Howling Man,” written by Charles Beaumont (based on his short story) and directed by Douglas Heyes, is a delightful homage to the Universal horror movies of the 30’s and 40’s. Shadowy European castle, dark and stormy night, Something Evil Afoot, it’s all here.

As our hero (David Ellington, played by H.M. Wynant) wanders deliriously through the castle (okay, it’s actually a hermitage, but it sure looks like castle), we half expect Dr. Frankenstein to come walking around the corner, Ygor in tow. Robert Carradine (as Brother Jerome) perfectly evokes the borderline-crazy doctors and scientists that populate those old films: yes, a bolt of lightning will in fact reanimate a corpse; yes, you can use alchemy to shrink people to kewpie doll proportions; and yes, that loudmouth in the cell downstairs is indeed His Satanic Majesty. They might be crazy, but they also happen to be right.

The music in “The Howling Man” is stock-scored with various cues in the CBS Music Library, but a couple of very recognizable cues from Bernard Herrmann’s score for season one’s “Where Is Everybody?” are prominent.

The Devil, as seen in this episode (played by Robin Hughes), was recently immortalized in plastic by Bif Bang Pow!. See my spotlight on the action figure here.

I’m a big fan of those old horror flicks, and I’m equally a big fan of this episode. It easily ranks in my top 40 favorite episodes of all time.

Next week: Quite possibly the greatest Twilight Zone episode ever produced. ‘Nuff said.

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