One of the greatest horror T.V. shows was never aired!
It sometimes boggles the mind to think of all the great finds Something Weird Video has unearthed in the past years. To date they've educated me in H.G. Lewis, Fredric Hobbs, William Grefe, Jack Weis, Doris Wishman, and Leonard Kirtman! But in the year of 1998-99 I was blown away when they discovered two un-aired television shows hosted by horror's classic (and best) genre stars; THE VEIL, hosted by Boris Karloff, and 13 DEMON STREET, hosted by Lon Chaney. Boris Karloff hosts a series of ten episodes of a horror series entitled `THE VEIL' from in front of a crackling fireplace in an illustrious castle room, filled with books and curiously macabre statues. Karloff plays his narrator as a somewhat curious man, who insists that all the tales he tells (stories he's `researched') are all true.
`Vision of Crime' is an interesting supernatural tale, though not very energetic. `Girl on the Road' begins like a Hitchcock crime-thriller, but ends on an almost William Castle-esque note. `Food on the Table' shows off Karloff's never-dulling acting skills, and achieves some pretty effective chills in its end. `The Doctors' is more of a moralistic story, and not so much horror. `The Crystal Ball' is entertaining, and has some cool imagery. `Genesis' has intriguing characters, a good plot, and some chilling imagery. `Destination Nightmare' is a bit too sentimental, and has very little horror imagery.
Also, `Destination' features Karloff narrating from a different room than his signature castle; a very 60's decorated library-looking room, complete with a map of the world for Karloff to stand in front of.
`Summer Heat' is simply a psychic crime-mystery with no horror in it at all. `The Return fo Madame Vernoy' is arguably the series' worst entry, being talkative and slow moving with next to no horror to place it in the series. And, finally, `Jack the Ripper' is a worthy entry, though the discriminating viewer might hunger for more of Jack the Ripper in the piece, instead of the irritating psychic who chases him. The `Ripper' segment also has an odd format change where Karloff hosts with a scattered opening segment, an interlude in the middle of the episode, and then a conclusion.
SWV's DVD presentation of THE VEIL is perfect! However, between the two horror series they've unearthed I would have to say that to my horror movie aesthetic 13 DEMON STREET is a bit better. Although THE VEIL is good, some of the episodes drag, and some are quite anti-climactical and disappointing, whereas I've never seen a 13 DEMON STREET I didn't enjoy.
Probably the reason for THE VEIL's fancy treatment, over 13 DEMON STREET's modest video release, is due to the psychological nature of the horror in THE VEIL over the more supernatural horror of DEMON STREET, which is more centered on ghouls, ghosts and demons.
Although I prefer 13 DEMON STREET (of which two episodes appear on the VEIL DVD) to THE VEIL, it is still a masterfully done series, with the wonderful Karloff as the master of ceremonies and occasional star. The ominously over-decorated room from which Karloff narrates, in front of his Dante-esque fire, never fails to creep
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