Thursday, March 15, 2018

Honourable Mention: The Boy Who Left Home to Find Out About the Shivers

I am absolutely torn on this one. Part of Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre, this was an adaptation of the Brothers Grimm’s The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was. It has a bit of an all star cast and my reason for including it are two-fold – one reason might be a ‘Vamp or Not?’ for something that is essentially a fleeting visitation and the other is, at best, of genre interest.

After Shelley Duval introduces the show, the story is narrated by Vincent Price and follows the adventures of Martin (Peter MacNicol, Dracula – Dead and Loving It). Martin feels the odd one out in his Transylvanian village as he does not (and never has) felt fear, unlike his superstitious father (Jeff Corey) and brother (Gary Springer). When the sexton (Jack Riley, The Night Dracula Saved the World) dresses as a ghost to try and scare Martin in the church belfry, Martin nonchalantly pushes the trespasser down the stairs, injuring him, and his father sends him away with a little money and orders never to tell anyone who his family is.

Christopher Lee as King Vladimir V
Ten miles later and Martin has reached the kingdom of King Vladimir V (Christopher Lee), he sees a note directing him to the inn as the King has a problem of a haunted castle. The King is indeed there and it is revealed that he is the son of Vladimir the Impaler, also known as Vladimir Ţepeş AKA Bad Vlad. If someone can spend three nights in the castle then they would break the curse, win the treasure, win the hand of the Princess Amanda (Dana Hill) and rule as King. Martin accepts the challenge – but not for the prizes, rather to see if he can feel a shiver. Amanda falls for Martin, though he thinks she works at the inn. So, our genre interest moment is the fact that Christopher Lee plays Vlad Ţepeş’ son (though the numbering is wrong, of course, and Vlad was never a king).

fangs
The night that interests us is the second night. Having just been missed by (and been oblivious to) a falling axe and a razor-sharp pendulum, Martin is sat by the fire when a disembodied phantom head (Gary Schwartz, The Nightmare Before Christmas) rises from the flames. The first thing I noticed was the fangs! His body follows and interacts with the head but Martin feels no fear. When he puts his head back on his shoulders he becomes corporeal and Martin teaches him how to scream menacingly. More spectres appear (none with fangs), become corporeal and, after failing to scare Martin, they all end up bowling (using bones as pins and a skull as a ball).

Martin and Attila
Was he a vampire? The fangs suggested so, and he was monstrous in visage, so perhaps he was a vampiric ghost – or perhaps he was just a ghost and the fangs were an affectation? Honestly, I just really wanted to feature the episode so I’ll leave it to you to decide whether you think the fangs were enough to qualify? The episode also features Frank Zappa as Attila the hunchback and David Warner as the innkeeper and it is a fun little way to spend just under an hour.

The imdb page is here.

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