Sunday, January 25, 2015

Vamp or Not? Circle of Fear: the Phantom of Herald Square

Ghost Story was a one season long anthology show based on horror themes (rather than simply ghost stories). It changed names halfway through, becoming Circle of Fear. We have already looked at the episode Elegy for a Vampire from the Ghost Story period and this episode aired under Circle of Fear.

This episode was directed by James H. Brown and first aired in 1973. This was actually nearly a review but I felt it probably better fell under "Vamp or Not?" due to a turnaround in the lore.

David Soul as James
It starts with a young woman (Judie Stein) being attacked by an old man (Victor Jory). Cutting to daytime a businessman, Matthews (Murray Matheson), looks at the world through a telescope. He turns his attention to the young man in his office, one James Barlow (David Soul, Starsky and Hutch: the vampire & Salem's Lot). James asks for an extension but is refused and warned not to have any more complications, this is said whilst showing him a newspaper indicating that the girl at the start was murdered. James says that he's lost control of the old man, and Matthew says that this sometimes happens but isn't his problem. When James leaves, Matthews picks up the phone and tells someone that James is considered to be on a first warning.

seeing Holly
James is walking in the park when an old lady approaches him. She says she is called Peggy (Meg Wyllie). James avoids her. At a lake he spots a young woman drawing; drawn to her he introduces himself. She is called Holly (Sheila Larken) and at first she is resistant to him. However he manages to charm the art student to a degree but she has to go to class. That evening, coming home, she is accosted by the old man who warns her not to see the young man again. She runs from him and drops her sketchpad.

turning young at day break
Cutting the story short, they fall for each other but of course he actually is the old man as well. Essentially, as an 88-year-old he didn't want to die and so sold his soul for eternal youth. He is younger during the day and reverts to being old at night (the changing effect being produced by superimposing the two actors over each other). His old self now wishes to die but his young self does not. Every so often he has to charm a girl into making a commitment to him. How often is not answered, but Peggy couldn't have been too long ago. When the girl makes a commitment he is able to maintain his youth. So far so very youth stealing energy vampire. However I did say there is a turnaround in the lore.

Murray Matheson as Matthews
Normally this would be cut and dried for me, but for the dialogue suggesting that rather than him draining the youth from his victims, they instead take on his age. This does intrigue me and makes him more of a giver than a taker. You might be wondering what Matthews gains from the bargain? Clearly those he represents are aware that eventually life will become stale for the one granted immortality and, at that point, they will ask for death and then (I assume Hell) gets the soul. Although age is given rather than youth stolen I still think this is a take on the energy vampire and therefore I'm going Vamp.The episode itself was interesting and its always fun to see David Soul, however it had a repeated romantic music refrain that was more misplaced than the song Strange Love in Lust for a Vampire and this nearly drove me to distraction.

The episode's imdb page is here.

No comments: