Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Night Gallery – the Devil is Not Mocked – review (TV Episode)

night gallery

Director: Gene R Kearney

First aired: 1971

Contains spoilers

The Night Gallery was Rod Serling’s follow up to the Twilight Zone and was composed of short visual stories, as it were. This was a shorter segment that featured Count Dracula.

Now, it was interesting that Dracula was played by Francis Lederer, who had played the Count before in the 1958 flick the Return of Dracula. Lederer believed the earlier film was the worst in his career and it is interesting to note that he actually lived through three centuries, being born in 1899 and dying in 2000.

Nazi's arriveThe episode is bookended by Dracula telling his grandson what he got up to in the Great War – why Dracula suddenly had a grandson is not explained. However during the war a group of SS soldiers, led by General Von Grunn (Helmut Dantine), went to a castle looking for partisans. Rather than the freedom fighters they expected they were met by a rather dapper looking man who welcomed them into his home.

Francis Lederer as DraculaThe castle was searched and nothing found, though the General believed the partisans were probably in hidden tunnels below the castle. There was a dinner laid out, which the Count insisted was for the General's repast, whilst the servants entertained his men. The Count did not partake – he would not sup until midnight. Of course, at midnight he vamps out whilst his servants destroy (unseen) the troops.

only silver bullets would have workedThis was billed by Serling as evil meeting evil and, though it was very short, the joy of it was the interaction between the quietly superior Count and the arrogant SS General. Of course any film showing Nazis being killed has merits and the General discovers he was right, that the Count was leading the partisans, just as he dies.

Short, to the point and fun. 6 out of 10.

The episode's imdb page is here.



Anthony Hogg said...

The original story was based on "The Devil Is Not Mocked", by one of my favourite writers, Manly Wade Wellman (1903-1986).

It was first published in the June 1943 issue of Unknown.

The Locus Index to Science Fiction details other stories he wrote.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Anthony - many thanks for that, I wasn't aware of the short

Anthony Hogg said...

Glad to be of assistance!

Wellman also wrote several other vampire stories including "School for the Unspeakable" (1937), "When It Was Moonlight" (1940), "The Last Grave of Lill Warran" (1951) and "Chastel" (1979).

Quaint stories by today's standard, but incorporating hints of vampire folklore and very much in the pulp fiction style.

That's another genre I enjoy.

If you haven't read it yet, obtain a copy (library or otherwise) of Weird Vampire Tales: 30 Blood-Chilling Stories from the Weird Fiction Pulps (1992), edited by Martin H. Greenberg, Robert Weinberg and Stefan R. Dziemianowicz.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

cheers for that Anthony - it is actually rather cheap used on Amazon - now on wish list!

Depressed Larry Talbot said...

I like Wellman's stories for their quaintness. Plenty of mood and suspense. These days it usually ends up about being some grotesque slavering bat-mutant knocking over walks ��

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi DLT - thanks for the comment. I picked up a little Wellman stuff in various volumes but could do with getting a dedicated collection of his works at some point