Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Twilight Zone – Red Snow – review (TV episode)

dvd set

Director: Jeannot Szwarc

Release date: 1986

Contains spoilers

In this episode segment of the Twilight Zone, from season 1, we find ourselves in the USSR, travelling with one Col. Ulyanov (George Dzundza who you might recall from Salems Lot) of the KGB. As things begin we see him intercepting a dissident who has banned books and a letter to his mother. Ulyanov tells him he will end up in a gulag and yet, when everyone moves on, he posts the letter to the man’s mother.

meet with the MinisterAlong with young agent Vladimir (Andrew Divoff) they meet with the Minister (Rod Colbin). Vladimir argues that exile to the gulag is too lenient and the man should be executed and the Minister agrees. When the younger man leaves the room the Minister explains that the young man has many friends in high places and passes Ulyanov a file about two party members dying in a gulag in Siberia. Ulyanov has cultivated no friends in high places, no one knows the real man just his efficiency – he is to go to Siberia to investigate the deaths.

Vladimir Skomarovsky as TitovIt is midday when he arrives and the town is in darkness, wolves howl in the snowy forest. He is met by Party Secretary Povin and taken to the inn. The band stop playing as he enters and he announces that Moscow has forbidden the playing of gypsy music and so they must cease playing it – next time they are in Moscow. This seems to break the ice but a man, Titov (Vladimir Skomarovsky), calls them party snobs as they go past him. Povin remembers himself and introduces Mayor Titov. Titov wonders why he would investigate, one man was ripped apart by wolves the other cut his own throat.

Ulyanov arranges to meet Povin in an hour and steps outside. He sees a woman and asks her name, she seems familiar. She is Valentina (Victoria Tennant) an exile, but she says he wouldn’t know her. He meets Povin and, after a while, gets her file. According to that she was exiled by Stalin – 50 years before. Povin suggests that she is the original Valentina’s daughter. He checks the frozen body of the ‘suicide’ and – despite being in ice – realises that there is no blood in the cut on his throat – it was done posthumously. The other body has already been sent South.

vorvolakaHaving realised that the supposedly abandoned church seems to be being used, he looks at where the bodies were found. He hears wolves and then it sounds like someone is in trouble. He runs to find a fanged Valentina feeding upon the wolf. He flees from the scene and is smacked round the head by a piece of wood, wielded by someone unseen. He wakes up in a room with Titov watching over him. The mayor suggets that he ran into a branch, in the dark, but Ulyanov is not fooled – he voices his suspicion, vorvolaka, and insists on seeing in the church.

The church is filled with coffins but they are empty. They are empty because it is dark, says Valentina who enters with a group. Povin has been turned – at his own request – and the human Titov explains that the vampires came during the war, exiles from their own land. They were feared and hunted at first but then the human exiles realised they had more in common than not. Now they protect them in the church during the summer and the vampires protect them during winter from the wolves and the occasional brigand. Valentina wants to kill the KGB man, though Titov thinks he could be sympathetic. It ends up with Titov and Ulyanov running from the church.

George Dzundza as UlyanovThey are in the woods when they are attacked by wolves. The vampires come but too late for Titov. Ulyanov gives up but points out the vampires have no safe haven any more, Moscow will send more and more investigators and they will eventually win, they always do. He is a man resigned and Valentina suddenly realises the measure of the man who has tried to fight the system from inside but has been worn down. She offers him the power to fight back. When we see him next he is in Moscow again and he has told the minister the agreed line that the two were killed by Titov, but he has been eliminated. When the Minister leaves the room Ulyanov reveals fangs.

And that was the whole of the segment but it was worth relaying in totality because it was an excellent little story, set in the USSR and very well acted by all concerned. Indeed, one feels that the story could have been easily stretched to a feature. There was enough within it to have been of interest for longer. Worth catching 7 out of 10.

The episode's imdb page is here.


1 comment:

Zahir Blue said...

I agree. This was probably my fave episode of the "new" TWILIGHT ZONE, an interesting take on the whole thing.