Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Hungry Glass: Season 1 Episode 16

Originally aired: 1/3/61. Starring William Shatner, Russell Johnson, Joanna Heyes. Written by Douglas Heyes, based on the short story by Robert Bloch. Directed by Douglas Heyes. 

Gil and Marcia Thrasher (Shatner and Heyes) can't believe their luck: they just bought a mansion with an ocean view for a song. Only one problem—it's haunted. Their real estate agent Adam (Johnson) and his wife Liz (Elizabeth Allen) try to talk the couple out of the purchase but they're not listening, even after Liz claims to see a spectre in the house. Gil and Marcia move in and quickly realize there's something to this ghost nonsense after all. Big trouble begins when Marcia discovers an attic full of mirrors. 

 PE: I've got to admit, this one's a problem for me. It consistently lands on all the "Top Ten Thriller" lists but I'm not convinced. It's got atmosphere and beautiful b&w camerawork. A nice score as well. "So what's your beef, Thrillerboy," I can hear you say. Easy. It's Shatner. Guy takes me out of anything he's in. Could you imagine pairing Shatner and Richard Burton in a flick together? How about a two-man play like Deathtrap. What would come first: gouging my eyes out or piercing my eardrums with needles? His dialogue is always spoken with eyes agog, as if he has to urinate very badly, or at a level to accommodate faulty booms. Almost by accident, Shatner's shaped his hambone act into a multi-million dollar commercial career and become an iconic buffoon. The generation that has grown up on "Shatner as the pitchman" don't realize that his shtick isn't far away from the "serious acting" he once did. That wide-eyed and overexcited burlesque act ruins the gothic unease of "The Hungry Glass." Listening to him reciting his lines in the final scene as though he's holding the skull of Yorick is quite numbing.

JS: Not only do I enjoy Shatner's performances, there's something particularly entertaining about his black and white work from the 60s: The Twilight Zone, Thriller, The Intruder, etc. I thought this was another great horror episode, which frankly is no small feat coming hot on the heels of "The Cheaters."

PE: So what's good about the show? As I've already noted, it's got atmosphere all right. The rest of the primary cast is tolerable, Russell Johnson stealing the show.

JS: Anti-Shatner, and yet you love The Professor, Russell Johnson, who for my money comes from the Richard Anderson school of acting. I think you're being too hard on one, and too easy on the other. Another creepy bit performance comes from Pitt Herbert, who fresh off his role as Fred the bartender in "Man in the Middle" is back as the creepy shopkeeper Mr. Cabot. I wouldn't buy light bulbs from this guy. (I'm really not trying to keep the lamp thing going - honest!)

PE: Since I have yet to see any comments posted by women, I'll just say that the two leading ladies are nice to look at and we'll keep it between us guys, okay?

JS: When it comes to the ladies, you failed to identify the fairest of them all—beautiful Donna Douglas as the girl in the mirror(s), Laura. I imagine there are worse ghosts to be haunted by than Elly May Clampett.

PE: After Liz sees a ghost, Shatner has his best line of the show, when he tells Marcia (with Shatner-esque dramatic pauses): "What do we know about Liz... she's bright... attractive... built... but she could also be a kook!"

JS: Funny line, to be sure, although I enjoyed Johnson's toast more: "Here's champagne to our real friends, and real pain to our sham friends." But let's face it, the funniest bit is when we see one of the characters fall to their death from the cliff on which the house resides, only to have their scream continue well past when they would have hit the rocks below.

It's also worth nothing that this is the first episode where Karloff doesn't point out that it is a Thriller. Rest assured, it is.

OUR COMMENTS ON THE COMMENTARY:
The world's leading Twilight Zone expert Marc Scott Zicree joins Gary Gerani to draw parallels between Thriller and The Twilight Zone. The two also praise Shatner as "being able to play a high-strung character while still coming off strong and masculine." They got the high-strung part right.

OUR RATING:

50 comments:

  1. The real horror of "The Hungry Glass" is the 2 and 1/2 Karloff rating. That's the same rating as the bomb episode, "The Fatal Impulse"! I know with two raters there is some type of average medium but only 2 and 1/2 Karloffs? This has to be a 3 and 1/2 or 4.

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  2. Hi Walker -

    I also enjoyed this ep (at a 3 star level though, let's not be too generous), and Peter thought Shatner dragged it down, hence our rating. If we all felt the same about all of them, this would be a pointless exercise, right? :)

    That said, we (and I expect all of our other readers) would be interested to hear your case for what makes this a perfect or near-perfect episode.

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  3. I thought this episode represented the fantastic and supernatural element that we all want more of in Thriller. I was impressed by the brooding atmosphere and the haunted house with the great enormous plate glass window. The beginning with the beautiful vain girl dancing in front of the mirrors, then showing her as an ugly crone was a nice touch.

    When the wife breaks into the locked room and we see a room full of mirrors, it reminded me of the mirror images in THE FLY and THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI. She seems clueless as to the menace but the viewers know there is a pending tragedy, afterall the great title hints at some horror, "The Hungry Glass"). I don't want to give away the ending but it is a real tragedy because Shatner wants to save his wife but the result is far different for every body.

    After all these early mediocre crime episodes, I'm starved for the real horror tales to begin, so I'm perhaps too enthusiastic but I do love a good ghost story(I have an almost complete set of Ashtree Press books which specializes in reprinting classic ghost tales.) Though this is not from Weird Tales, it certainly would have been welcome in that great pulp.

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  4. Interesting. Nobody seems bothered by the screwed-up soundtrack for this episode (an Image-inflicted defect), which is most obvious in the opening teaser -- the THRILLER main title is so sound-warped it actually makes me wince. All of the show's wind and crashing surf sound effects play like a dive-bombing jet, and Shatner's plunge through the window sounds like a plane going down, not a human body falling. This distracting audio problem does come and go; thankfully, the extended non-dialogue sequence where Shatner develops the ghost girl photo while his wife finds the mirrors upstairs, is pretty much okay, with the background music playing in non-distorted fashion (possibly because of the absence of a dialogue track). But the defect returns full-blast during the mirror-smashing climax: instead of normal glass-breaking sounds, we hear the "jet bomber/wind tunnel" audio defect every time Shatner strikes the mirror. Final end title music, featuring just the music track, plays just fine.

    Many people have complained about the volume level distortions of this DVD release ("The Storm," "La Strega"). But so far, "Hungry Glass" is the only defective soundtrack in the set that bothers me. And in case this got by you, just watch the teaser and opening title again (why should I be the only one to suffer?). Listen to how Rugolo's cool mini-theme has been thoroughly massacred by a hopelessly choked audio mix. Geez, if a screw-up like this HAD to happen, why couldn't it have occurred in "Rose's Last Summer" or "Man in the Middle," instead of one of the classic horror episodes?

    Coming next: my response to the show itself.

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    1. I am in agreement with Gary here: Image has done a terrible job overall with this much-anticipated dvd release. The main culprit seems to be their mishandling of the Music and Effects isolated tracks. In HUNGRY GLASS the effects are completely distorted, making watching this an ordeal. Secondly, on other M&E isolated tracks on other episodes these tracks are so loud that they swamp the dialog, and they are not modulated up and down as would normally be the case in a proper sound mix.

      Apparently Image got ahold of these tracks, and the separate dialog tracks and just joined them together without a thought to the sound mix. The result is a complete mess and the viewer has to keep pumping up the sound to hear the dialog then turning it back down when the next music cue starts. Idiotic. All they had to do was to have the M&E tracks separate, and then for the show itself merely use the properly-mixed track that the show was provided with.

      It is just mind-boggling to me that there is such a colossal ignorance out there in dvd manufacturing land. Does anyone there even attempt quality control?

      Another incredibly stupid thing Image did on this set was to use on their menu screen photos of the surprise endings of these shows, thereby ruining the shock. It would be like them giving the name of the murderer away before the mystery even begins. How does one explain such stupidity?

      I spent a fortune for this set and am thoroughly disgusted. If - and that's a big "if" - Image decides to "re-master" this disc and correct all these egregious errors I MIGHT be compelled to purchase it again. But I will never recommend this set to any THRILLER fan, not at least without first warning them of all the dumb mistakes Image made.

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    2. This assessment is way too harsh and a disservice to show and to the fans who have waited so long for the release.

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    3. A late reply, but ... I agree completely with Dan's comment. This is the only old television show set where I have to ride the volume control all the way through, cranking it up into the 70's or 80's for the dialogue, and than quickly having to turn it down into the 20's when the dramatic music suddenly blasts out. It is really irritating.

      I think Dan has hit it: They just stuck the music/effects track onto the dialogue track with no effort to meld them as it would have been in the original print. I am especially disappointed because Image usually seems to take a lot of care with such things.

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  5. After seeing "The Cheaters" on its first run, I was suddenly a major THRILLER fan at age 8. "Wow!" I remember telling my patient Aunt Rita. "...and next week's episode looks even better!" This was in response to the trailer for "Hungry Glass," shown at the end of "Cheaters," which included the "girl being pulled into a haunted mirror" moment. Yeah, "wow" seemed to be an entirely appropriate response.

    Well, "Hungry Glass" wasn't quite as good as "The Cheaters," but I pretty much loved it anyway. Scary, evil ghosts a la THE UNINVITED were rare back then (very few of us had seen THE INNOCENTS, and Wise's THE HAUNTING was still a couple years off), the cliffside house was compelling and atmospheric, and composer Pete Rugolo showed us that he could play in that classical-style pond pretty nicely himself, even while retaining a somewhat disguised version of the three-note THRILLER theme within his evocative score. Indeed, he must have been told that "Thriller" is now becoming "Chiller," so proceed accordingly!

    Bill Shatner? He is and always shall be somewhat hammy (big news!), but he's also compelling, heartfelt, and has a real movie star presence. He's equally good in Leslie Stevens' INCUBUS, the Esperanto occult movie from '65. Shatner has both the acting chops and the built-in empathy to pull off a difficult part in an oddball flick, which he does very nicely.

    On balance, "The Hungry Glass" has to be included somewhere in the top twelve of THRILLER's classic horror episodes. It's perhaps a little too deliberately paced, and nothing on display here quite matches the final reveal from "Cheaters" for sheer off-the-scale horror. Still, the mirror fx moments are powerful, the Cape Cod location is great, and a modern, serious ghost story featuring malevolent spirits is always welcome in my living room.

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  6. The Shat: I think Peter will be pleased by the balance we provide in the commentary to “The Grim Reaper.” There are two schools. One confuses Shatner’s iconic Star Trek status as a hero figure in pop culture with an actual ability to act. This is because many fans channeled Shatner as a role model — the guy in the toupee who occasionally had to wear a girdle, yet nonetheless always got the space-girl. Shatner is interesting to watch as an actor, but that golden era was mostly done by the early 1960s. The single performance perfectly suited to his almost feminine brand of hysteria is his star turn in THE INTRUDER, where he plays a white supremacist rabble-rouser in the deep South. The opposing “school” — mine — maintains that James West would have kicked Captain Kirk’s ass every single time. Right now I’d be a happier person if I never saw Shatner (or Gene Simmons) on TV ever again.

    What I would love to have seen was a “point-counterpoint” approach applied to one episode, and “The Hungry Glass” would have been perfect for such an indulgence.

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    1. Your saying, "...the guy in the toupee who occasionally had to wear a girdle..." is so needlessly nasty beyond belief and irrelevant, that you belie your own lameness.
      Shatner is an excellent actor.

      I greatly admire The Outer Limits Companion which I believe you co-wrote, but I will no longer value any of your TV criticisms.

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    2. Don't let such criticisms of Shatner trouble you, as such criticisms are quite fashionable. You're quite right in calling Shatner an excellent actor, however unfashionable this assessment is.

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  7. Ironically enough, Marc Zicree and I indulge in a little "point-counterpointing" in our upcoming commentary for the TWILIGHT ZONE hour "The Thirty-Fathom Grave," an episode I kinda like, and Marc doesn't. For "Glass," Zicree wanted to convey a good deal of information about Doug Heyes. We pretty much feel the same way about the episode, Shatner's performance, etc., so there wasn't much room for interesting debate. But hopefully some cool stuff was conveyed anyway...

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  8. Peter and John...c'mon---revise your Karloff rating (upward) on this one.

    While "Hungry Glass" would not make my top 12 favorites, it is amazingly well-done. DOUG HEYES RULES! The man comes in, does the screenplay, casts his wife (an excellent choice), directs the HELL out of the thing with, I'm certain, a HUGE amount of input into the design and effects of the show, AND manages to get a first-rate performance out of Shatner.

    The atmosphere of this episode is strikingly good, from the cramped, cozy general store to the moonlit ocean vistas seen through the big window. The visual design of the room of hidden mirrors in the attic is sheer brilliance, and the ghost effects are quite good also. The seafaring guy/ghost in the arch-like frame that closes Act 1, is TOTALLY unearthly, and Shatner tightening his hold on Johanna Heyes to prevent her from turning and seeing it was but one of her hubby's many fabulous directorial touches.

    Heyes, not typically regarded as an actor's director, pulls the best out of his quartet of players. All are real, likeable, and multi-dimensional. Shatner's gradual melt-down throughout the show is beautifully paced, and his final scene, delivered ALMOST directly into the camera, is something beyond what I would have thought he was capable of; superbly controlled, and almost searing in its pathos and intensity.
    Rugolo, in a psuedo-impressionistic mode, also contributes a great deal to this most chilling and oppressively seductive tale.

    My late brother spoke often of the sense of creeping terror during the long scene with Shatner in the basement darkroom; I think it's too drawn out...but, again, the actor plays it naturally and convincingly.

    Gary---YES, I was really upset with the phasing of the soundtrack; when we first hear Rugolo's "mirror waltz" in the prologue, I thought to myself "I never noticed that they had used a phasing/distortion effect to give this cue a more surreal effect", only to realize that the "effect" was, in fact, a DE-fect in the mastering. Too bad.
    But a first-rate show.

    LR

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  9. There seems to be a perception that we're saying anything less than 4 Karloffs is bad. The way I see it, if it's 2 or better, we're saying we liked it, and 3 or better, we really liked it.

    I've really enjoyed several episodes (including this one, for what it's worth), but I wouldn't say I've seen one I would call perfect. If we set out to say our favorite episode rates 4 Karloffs, and scale everything down from there, we'd have to watch them all first. As fate would have it, watching them in chronological order had us start near the bottom and (slowly) work our way up.

    I'd like to think that reading our reviews is in fact more interesting because we don't all agree what makes a great episode. Would you really want to come to the blog every day only to find that our opinions on all episodes were identical?

    But the most important point, which I raised earlier, is that everyone has an opportunity to make their case by posting a comment. Future readers will have a chance to read everything written about a particular episode, and not just whatever rating Pete and I gave it.

    I highly doubt anyone will be discouraged from watching any of the fan favorites based on what we have to say. If anything, I'd like to think that some of the easily dismissed episodes ("The Fatal Impulse," anyone) will get a second look from folks based on the enjoyment we got from them.

    So bottom line, the judges ruling stands. It carries no weight, mind you, but it stands. :)

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  10. Speaking of parallels between THRILLER and THE TWILIGHT ZONE, I thought it was interesting to note that Shatner's role here has echoes of his two ZONE appearances (both coincidentally written by Richard Matheson). He begins to question his own sanity, like the hero of "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet," and his bantering relationship with his wife, which becomes strained as terror encroaches, recalls the newlyweds in "Nick of Time."

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  11. Matthew-
    I thought maybe the parallels you were referring to were the eyes agog, sweaty forehead, speech with lots of ..... in it, and a general lack of any acting ability! When an "actor" like Shatner can make millions in today's world (and win an Emmy!), I begin to question my own sanity.

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    1. Shatner is, in fact, an excellent actor. I do understand, however, the pressure to conform to the fashionable opinions of the cognoscenti.

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  12. When I first saw this on its original run, I was so scared I almost turned off the TV to hide under my covers before it was over. Too bad Shatner got famous or you would have given this an extra Karloff.
    Real shame about the sound on this one.

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  13. Well, I just can't believe the low rating (only two and a half out of four for such a powerful horror episode?) . And the dismissive tone about many of these episodes in general, guys. It's really bringing me down. Don't have much further desire to keep up with this, to be honest. I mean, if even the good horrific episodes get nitpicked...

    Oh, and I did not sense any technical problems with the DVD presentation.

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  14. Hey Joe -

    As I mentioned elsewhere in this thread, when folks disagree with us, we love to hear why. If you just say we're crazy for not giving an episode the rating you think it deserves, it doesn't add to the discussion (other than supporting the fact that we are in fact crazy for doing this). ;)

    I'd prefer to hear why you think the episode deserves a higher rating. As that happens, the entire thread - and not just our ramblings - becomes a valuable discourse, that makes the whole experience better for everyone.

    Pete and I been pleasantly surprised several times when folks have stepped in to support our at times unpopular opinions about the 'untouchable' episodes, and don't lose sleep when even our good friends rib us over our rating for "The Guilty Men."

    Bottom line, if you're not enjoying the blog, I won't beg you to keep coming back. I do suggest that the we offer up more than just what Peter and I have to say - you'd also be missing out on the informed opinions of our regular contributors including Walker Martin, Larry Rapchak, and Gary Gerani - all of whom share your opinion of "The Hungry Glass."

    So I invite you to share your opinions on this episode (which I've already said I would rate three Karloffs), or bid you a fond farewell if ATAD just isn't your cup of tea. I do thank you for investing your time over our first few weeks to see check out what we were doing here.

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  15. John, I respect your professionalism and the way you take criticism. And the manner in which I worded my last comment did come off too much like: "I'm mad you guys didn't rate it as much as I do". Sorry about that... differing opinions are always interesting and it's why I enjoy reading them. I didn't mean people can't disagree, God knows. After all, that's why I keep checking in. Would be a bore if everyone felt the same way (to repeat a popular phrase).

    I just was so excited to finally see such an atmospheric episode, with the moody cliffside house near the water, the chilling ghostly images, and what I felt were good performances from Shatner and Johnson. I was surprised the show rated merely two and a half (which means "above average") instead of at least three (which is "good"). Three and a half to four, that means "very good to excellent".

    Anyway - that's all arbitrary. I over-reacted, and I apologize for that.

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  16. I loved this episode. Could it be because William Shatner is and has long been my favorite actor? I thought Joanna Heyes was a little bit grating--she reminded me of Trixie Norton on "The Honeymooners" with her whiny voice. I also thought the score was disappointing, especially after Goldsmith's score for "The Cheaters." I did not realize it was a bad job on the DVD. Overall, this was the first episode that I found really "scary"--"The Purple Room" was cool, "The Prediction" was cool, and "The Cheaters" was very cool, but "The Hungry Glass" was just plain scary. The black and white images were gerat, too--that room of mirrors was neat.

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  17. Having seen quite a lot od Shatner's acting, as probably most of us have,
    This and his two TZ episodes are his most controlled preformances
    Too bad you did judge it for what it is and not by your dislike of Shattner
    and yes, as a woman, i find the young WS to be drop dead handsome

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  18. For the record, Rebekah, I think this is one of the best from Season 1.

    Fortunately, Pete warmed up to him more by the time we got to The Grim Reaper...

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  19. I saw this as a kid with my sister and it haunted me for years. I've talked to other people too and this is the Thriller episode they remember.

    If we are to believe what we read on the web:

    I recall my mom telling me, the next morning, that she read in the newspaper, that a number of children, nationwide, had to be taken to hospitals, for calming, after watching it.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0723102/


    I do believe that. For months after watching that episode my sister and I were afraid of mirrors and large glass windows.

    I understand that watching this episode as an adult is different from doing so as a child. I watched it the other night and I did get a few good chills off it, but otherwise it was hard not to be distracted by Shatner's hammy acting and the cornball-sophisticated sixties dialog.

    Still, you might show a little more respect for this episode. It drove a lot of kids crazy and it is the only Thriller show I remember almost fifty years later.

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  20. My favourite episode so far. Great atmosphere, genuinely scary, and I always find Mr Shatner a fascinating actor to watch, even though he may not be the most realistic. I particularly liked the scene where he recoils in terror and then slumps in a heap, senseless.

    If I'm nitpicking (as usual) I'd have to say that the sea outside the window on a stormy night looked remarkably calm! Three and a half Karloffs.

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  21. I had a friend over tonight and I mentioned that I had recently seen "The Hungry Glass." That's all I had to say. He remembered that episode vividly. The only other thing he remembered from the TV series was the great Jerry Goldsmith score during the opening credits.

    2 1/2 K for this episode really doesn't cut it even if you say it does mean you (sorta) liked it.

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  22. Great episode. First time I'd actually want to hang out with the characters. Funny, witty dialogue. Awesome gothic creepy house-on-a-cliff. Shatner doesn't chew the scenery as much as usual. Great 'Poltergeist'-ish music. I'm a sucker for ghost stories ('Ghost Story' by Peter Straub is one of my favorite novels). The phaser soundtrack was most irritating during the opening storm scenes, but I got over it. Loved it!

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  23. I first watched Thriller when I was around age 12, and the local UHF station would show it as reruns at 12 midnight. Since these were school nights, I would have to sneak from my bedroom to the family room where the TV set was, and watch these shows with the lights off & the sound down low so I wouldn't wake my parents sleeping in the next room, or I would get a scolding & be sent off to bed. There were a few times this happened, and as a result a few episodes I didn't see completely until years later.

    I remember watching the double whammy ending to "the Hungry Glass" and sitting motionless in shock as the credits rolled, and then finally the station went off the air at 1am (this was way before the 24 hour schedule of cable TV), so I got up and stole silently back to my bed. So strong was the power of suggestion in this episode, I didn't dare turn around and look at the bay window in our family room as I passed it, because I knew that if I should see someone looking back at me in the glass...
    my heart would stop beating.

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  24. Great follow-up to THE CHEATERS. I forgot how good this episode was. Shatner does an admirable job. I must be getting use to his bravada style. Great atmosphere, great music. These only add to the elements that make this "small" ghost story so good.

    The scene of the old hag and child dragging Joanna Heyes is terrific. What a difference these last two episodes have been over the ordinary crime dramas.

    "3 1/2 Karloffs".

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  25. 2 1/2 Karloffs sounds about right for me. I am really surprised about how much love this episode gets as it seems just as good (or bad) as some of the better crime ones. For me it is quite a step down from The Cheaters: It's far too talkative (those explanations went on far too long), too ridiculous (one person just jumping out the window was funny but that many is just stupid) and with a one-trick pony (scary mirrors seriously don't work much for me). If this is in a lot of people's Top 10 (or 12) I am starting to believe that I'll never be a proper THRILLER Fan.

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  26. Captain Kirk and the Professor in the same episode. How can you wrong?

    I really enjoyed watching The Hungry Glass. A great ghost story filmed with a nice and creepy atmosphere most certainly fits my definition of a Thriller.

    After watching this, I thought that the reviews would be uniformly positive and that no one would rate it less than 3 Boris heads. I've never been that big of a Star Trek fan, so the whole Shatner angle is moot with me.

    The opening setup played out like a Grimm fairy tale. This viewer was quickly sent to dream land watching the beautiful Laura dancing through the night only to be jolted from la-la land by her aged reality.

    The scene at the inn is one of those typical devices to display the stark contrast between the beautiful, young, innocent outsiders and the old and wise locals, but it does the job effectively.

    The ocean front house is a perfect stage for the following chills. I didn't really notice the phasing effects on the soundtrack, so I wasn't distracted by any unnatural whooshes.

    The dialog between the Kennedy era yuppies was perhaps a bit chatty, but it was interesting to listen to and I thought all four players did well. The pacing of the events were on the slow side, which complimented the dream like descent into the hungry mirrors. Unlike the poster above, the scary mirrors did work for me and were framed into the story perfectly.

    With each new supernatural quirk delivered by the casa I was reminded of how the old 1970s haunted house movie Burnt Offerings unfolded. A slow and subtle creep out setting the stage for a final ending of life snuffing madness.

    The mirror reflects three and a half Karloffs.

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  27. Well here I get to play Johnny-come-lately. I stumbled upon a late night local TV channel playing a Thriller episode (no, unfortunately it wasn't "The Hungry Glass"). Afterward it got me thinking about the only time I viewed this episode when I was all of 8 years old. It was, like for many here, the only epi I remembered - with a vengence! So I google "The Hungry Glass" and what do I find? A wonderful dialog among all those who thought highly of it (and a few who didn't). Along with their varied opinions. Way cool!

    I think pretty much everything has been offered up for discussion regarding this superb horror tale, with one possible exception (MINE of course). First I have to rate this from distant memory, since the only time I saw this show was 52 years ago. I cannot say if I would feel the same way about it now (as an aged adult), but I'll assume for argument's sake that not much would have changed for me. I rate this 3 1/2 to 4 Borii (that's the plural form of Boris) for primarily one reason alone. It is not that important to me whether the actors gave Oscar winning performances or the score was not digital surround-sound. The single important factor for this guy is 'Did it deliver the goods in terms that were spelled out in it's premise as a horror film?' The answer is a resounding YES! The greatest acting this side of Broadway would have no meaning if the film did not scare the crap out of me (which it most definitely DID). On this merit alone I unhesitatingly give the high marks that I did. The psychological payoff as a truly scary program delivered on its promise. I was alone in the house during and after the showing of this epi and I refused to move from the sofa (to get to my room required my passing a gigantic mirror in the bathroom to which my mother ALWAYS left the door wide open). I truly wish movie makers could capture some of the mojo that they possessed way back in the day. This was truly a THRILLER!

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    1. I thoroughly agree with everything you said

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  28. This is one of the episodes I've remembered most fondly over the years, and I was pleased with the elements that had held up. As many of you have said, the atmosphere was terrific and there are places where it's genuinely scary. I also was intrigued by the script, which kept connecting the wife's jokes about her own vanity with the vanity of the Ellie May ghost. I was also pleased to read here that this was a Pete Ruggolo score. I was really getting tired of the marimba-percussion-brass combos he seemed to use all the time, so realizing he did this lovely, moody music made me think better of him.

    The acting, however, is very strange. I agree with David Schow's comment on the almost feminine nature of Shatner's histeria. He seems to be auditioning to play Blanche DuBois, only without the accent. But with the exception of Russell Johnson, the principals all seemed to be overdoing their line readings. I know Shatner and Elizabeth Allen started out doing more stage work, and at times they seemed to be projecting to the back row of the balcony. And Joanne Heyes just seemed to shout half her lines for no reason.

    Yet, some of that (particularly the two women) works in a sense. There seems to be a level of hysteria from the start that almost primes them for the horror to come. So, I'll still remember this one fondly and still get the shivers remembering the wife's death.

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  29. #2 out of 67 for me its so great, 4 out of 4. I'll even give them a pass on the sound effects- maybe the ghosts took Shatner before he even hit the ground.

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  30. PE: has it all wrong. O.K. I remember some of the Star Trek TOS eps (which is a series I love) where Shatner is on all fours 'whinying' like a horse with a midget on his back or his performance in the Legendary 'White Comanche' (altho that's kind of a guilty pleasure also) but most of my favorite Shatner is black and white 60's performances. He's an original guy back then (and I don't care for his new schtick particularly) and is great in all of these old Thriller/Twilight Zone shows! It's nice to see him young, in shape, without a wig, and.. talking.. like.. he.. does.. Spock.. I guess it's a matter of taste but I'm a vintage Shatner fan. This was a great episode of Thriller plus Donna Douglas was beautiful and The Professor was great also.

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  31. Some judicious cutting to remove about 10 minutes of the incessant dialogue would have improved this episode significantly. Nonetheless, Heyes and his DP realize some wonderful images, the opening visual pun revealing the old woman is brilliant, and the visualization of the spirits (almost unerringly a disappointment in film/TV ghost stories) is among the best in ANY medium, IMO. The combination of negative photography and optical haze is simply inspired.

    On the down side, Image owes us a replacement disk for the appalling phasing in their mastering of the M&E track. Releasing this as is was almost as brain dead as the choice of images in the menus. (On a par with Universal's DVDs of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" in which the menu synopses virtually give away the entire story.)

    But then it should be no surprise that marketing executives--who apparently made these choices--are morons on the whole.

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  32. For me The Hungry Glass is an above average but not superior Thriller. It should be among the best of the series but a few things drag it down for me:

    1.) The casting of the too bland duo of Shatner and Johnson as the male leads, fine for a Loretta Young episode or an entry in The Millionaire series but wrong for Thriller.

    2.) The absence of at least one strong supporting player to bolster the episode,--a Homolka, a Townes, a John Williams, Leo G. Carroll, Jeanette Nolan, Sidney Blackmer--someone, anyone, to give it a touch of class. We have to settle for the briefly seen near death Clem Bevans, the hauntingly hideous Ottolo Nesmith. This is all for the good but isn't enough to save the episode.

    3.) A certain predictability in the storyline. Once I got the gist of the story I pretty much knew how it was likely to end. Not exactly, but it wasn't a shock to me. The top episodes are better than Thrillers; they're shockers. This one wasn't.

    As to the good: as others have noted, the production values, as good as any I've seen in the series; the opening sequence of Donna Douglas dancing, turning into Ottola Nesmith when she answers the door, which got from me a bigger startle reaction than anything that followed. Awesome, with perfect photography, razor sharp editing. The mirrors were nice to look at and well presented and for the most part creatively used throughout the episode. I do like The Hungry Glass but once the story kicked into high gear it triggered a kind of been there, done that depressiveness in me soon after, and it never really lifted.

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  33. Shatner's Grim ReaperJanuary 23, 2013 at 9:26 AM

    I'm scratching my head on this one....thought it was a very well composed and atmospheric ghost story...certainly worthy of it's placement as one of the top ten fan favorites on DVD.

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  34. I watched The Hungry Glass again tonight and enjoyed it, found it maybe over-written in some ways, not well enough written in others. For some reason the characters aren't drawn sympathetically. Is this the fault of the actors, the director, the writer, the dialogue coach? I can't say, but having seen The Cheaters last week the difference between these two early horror Thrillers is striking inasmuch as for some reason (and maybe this is just me) I felt something for the principle characters in each "installment" of The Cheaters,, from Paul Newlan's clueless junkman to Millie Dunnock's sly, valetudinarian, Jack Weston's chubby social climbing nephew, Harry Townes as the failed writer who somehow seems to possess a first rate mind in spite of his non-starting "career", and even his wife came of well. In stark contrast, I really didn't care a rat's behind who lived or who died in The Hungry Glass. It was a good story but so plot-driven as to siphon off that essential ingredient for any good tale to work, horror or otherwise: human interest, empathy, one's ability to identify with the characters. I just couldn't. Still, it was a handsome show none the less.

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  35. This episode is actually an adaptation of a short story called The Hungry House, also written by Bloch. I read the story long before I knew of the show, and IMHO it's a relatively obscure gem of the haunted house genre. The story never actually describes the ghost in detail, and the ending is different than the show (with lots of implied gore.) I was curious how these gruesome details would be depicted on television and was disappointed the ending was changed to make it less gory. On the upside, the rest of the story is relatively intact except for the realtor and his wife having a slightly expanded role on film.

    One of the key things the show changed that I think muted the feeling of dread was in the story the couple who bought the house did not know it was haunted. The realtor friend knew it had a bad history, but didn't tell them ahead of time. So we get to join the couple as things get weirder and weirder before the story reveals the house really is out to get them.

    If you enjoyed the episode but take issue with the casting or pacing, I'd recommend looking for the story. It leaves more to the reader's imagination, and what the reader imagines is always much worse than what they see. You can find it in various horror and Bloch anthologies.

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  36. Good grief--it was the early version of our Capt Kirk. Great atmosphere, fine musical score, fairly good plot development. But, no real scary thriller chiller. The scene where Shatner falls to the ocean-how about the final scene in Eastwood flix, play Misty For Me!

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  37. Well, I added my two cents to this episode with my latest post of the Thriller series at WitD. I made pointed references to what Peter, John and Larry have opined on this thread.

    http://wondersinthedark.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/anthology-heaven-thrillers-the-hungry-glass/

    As always this site is invaluable for all kinds of reasons.

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  38. Another Russell Johnson line of note: "Beware of geeks bearing bubbles!"

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    Replies
    1. ME TV repeats this one tonight. To keep this dialogue thread alive, well, and boisterous.

      Anybody remember the original movie, the Ghost and Ms Muir? Not the TV series with Blythe Danner.

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    2. Yeah, those references are tame compared to this episode--but this episode has good atmosphere and Shat--could you ask for anything more?

      Recall that in "Play Misty for Me," the mucho, macho, man--Clint Eastwood cold cocked a very unpleasant female stalker out of his residence in the Big Sur Cliffs--splatt. A nasty film, but vintage Eastwood to include references to radio FM KRLM, Carmel. Pete Ruggalo, the former music man for Thriller--he was a jazz journeyman who just cranked out scores for god knows how many series and commercials.

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  39. What I find most fascinating about this excellent episode is the chance to watch both Shatner ande Johnson give dramatic performances in their pre-famous days of Trek and Island. As a huge fan of the horror genre in all its forms I'd give this episode 3 1/2 Karloffs.

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  40. I saw this first run when I was a kid. I was about six and it gave me nightmares for weeks. The image of the ghost trying to pull someone through a mirror terrified me. Up to that point I didn't imagine ghosts could KILL and of course I fully believed in them.

    Over the years I never forgot this episode and had no idea what show it was from. I found out a few years ago and found the short story and read it. It no longer gives me nightmares, but the real Donna Douglas looked a little scarier as an old lady as depicted here.

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