THRILLER: THE COMPLETE SERIES
Reviewed by: Zombie Boy
What's it about
Thriller is a classic one-hour genre series from the early sixties, on a par with The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits.
Is it good movie?
I would say it would be near impossible to be a genre fan and not be a fan of Thriller. Right off the bat it has the gravitas of being hosted by Boris Karloff, and the one-hour format really makes each episode seem more like a short movie than a television show. While the show began by adhering pretty strictly to its name with crime-drama plots, over its two-year run it began tilting more and more towards horror, thanks mostly to the first season Halloween episode titled The Purple Room (featuring Alan Napier, Richard Anderson, and an impossibly-young Rip Torn, and was the first of two eps to feature the Psycho house), and undoubtedly to the fact that Karloff was a horror “brand” at Universal at the time.
The set itself is a very classy production. All 67 episodes of the show are lovingly restored here on 14 discs. The inside of each case lists each episode along with a synopsis and list of special features. The episodes look crisp and the sound is top-notch, which is especially good since the theme song and interstitial music are that wonderful late 50’s/early 60’s bombastic jazz. In fact, a lot of the episodes allow you to listen to an isolated track of that ep’s score. I really like the 3D walk down the corridor that opens each DVD as well. All in all quality abounds.
Obviously I would not be able to list out a review of each episode, but suffice it to say that just about every darkly-scheming plot you can imagine has been done here, one of my favorites being a bizarre story from Robert Bloch about a man trying to use a magic suit to bring his dead son back to life. And talk about casting! Anyone you could possible want is in here somewhere: Nielsen, Shatner, Nicholson, Richard “Jaws” Kiel, even Karloff himself in one episode. The cast list literally reads like a Hollywood who’s who. Even if you don’t enjoy the episodes you’ll have fun recognizing all the super-young faces of some of your favorite actors.
But seriously, if you don’t enjoy the episodes, wtf is wrong with you?
Video / Audio
Video: All episodes are presented in their original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and look wonderful.
Audio: The originally audio was undoubtedly mono, but here has been remixed and cleaned up and sounds just as good as the picture looks.
There is no dedicated disc for special features, but just about every episode has something attached to it. Most have an episode promo, basically the “scenes from next week’s episode” kind of thing, and as I mentioned earlier you can listen to an isolated track of the score of lots of episodes. There is a scattering of commentaries as well, 27 in all, with commentators ranging from episode cast/crew like Richard Anderson, Patricia Barry, and Arthur Hiller, to authors and directors influenced by the show such as Ernst Dickerson, David J. Schow, and Larry Blamire, the absolute genius behind The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra movies. There are also a few film historians such as Lucy Chase Williams and Gary Gerani, for that extra pedantic flavor.
There’s also a photo gallery on one of the discs.
Altogether, it’s tough to find a quibble with this set. Every episode of a great television show lovingly restored and presented with a healthy selection of special features. You don’t need me to tell you that’s a great deal.