Starring Boris Karloff, Estelle Winwood, Ed Nelson.
Written by Robert Arthur, based on his short stories "When the Dead Talk" and "Calling All Corpses."
Directed by Herschel Daugherty.
Boris treats us to two stories dealing with communicating with the dead: the first concerns a morgue attendant (Karloff) who claims he can talk to his tenants. Then a wanted murderer (Nelson) and his wife come back to the old family estate to collect their inheritance.
JS: The first tale starts down a false path that might have made an interesting hour-long episode. It's unfortunate that the setup of kindly William Schallert as Dirty Harry gets set aside on the road to this episode's twist climax. This segment also contains what are probably the two best condition corpses to come out of a car accident. And who was that man in the middle of the road? (Well, Boris knew! -PE)
PE: We get both ends of the Karloff spectrum this episode: first, the tender side, in an understated performance as Pop Jenkins, the kindly old man who speaks to and consoles the newly dead, then as the slightly-more-than-daft Colonel Jackson Beauregard Finchess. I don't know about you, but the second Karloff showed in that get-up, I couldn't stop thinking of Christopher Walken as Colonel Angus on Saturday Night Live ("All the girls love Colonel Angus!").
JS: The second segment fortunately had a little more meat on its bones to enjoy. The southern plantation and mausoleum were much more interesting to look at than the drab interior of Karloff's morgue.
PE: Karloff steals the show as usual, but Ed Nelson puts in a good five days work in two equally disparate roles. He's the cocky and unfeeling reporter who takes advantage of old Pop Jenkins and then he really gets cooking as Daniel le Jean, the murderer on the run, looking to get rich quick no matter whose tomb he has to raid.
JS: I think the real scene stealer was Estelle Winwood as Aunt Emily Jenkins (I thought it was Shelley Duvall. Thanks for clearing that up! -PE). She gives a great performance, and right away you find yourself asking, I wonder who's already dead. Of course, I also felt the segment included the low point as well, Norma Crane as Danny's wife Nell. Sure, she was playing a fish out of water, but her hip-chick shtick fell flat in my book, daddy-o (Easy on the eyes though. -PE).
PE: Was it my imagination or was I hearing jungle noises ala Tarzan (ooo-ooo aaaa-aaa) in the scene where Daniel and his wife are heading for the mausoleum? It may have been my neighbors.
JS: You're crazy. Though I did keep listening for Voodoo Rhapsody to kick in...
PE: “Dialogues with Death” is based on two short stories by Robert Arthur: “Friend of the Dead” first appeared as by Arthur’s pseudonym Andrew Fell under the original title “When the Dead Talk” in Dime Mystery, June 1949; and “Welcome Home” originally appeared under the title “Calling All Corpses” in Dime Mystery, October 1948.