From the team who brought us "Trilogy of Terror" comes a follow-up TV produced three part anthology by writer Richard Matheson and director producer Dan Curtis. Not to be confused with the 1945 version with the same title (which is also an anthology), this TV feature was going to be a pilot for an up and coming TV series that didn't eventuate. The three stories that have been picked are all rather different in tone. Honestly the first two tales really do pale in comparison with the last one and if this one weren't tact on it would be quite a mediocre film. Curtis' sturdy direction is fine, without over-doing anything, but maybe could have used bit more spruce. Although saying that he comes into his own in the final story. Each story (adapted from Henry James' story) written by Matheson has its nice little touch and imaginative edge, but again it's the final one that only clicks and stands-out. There's no real wrap-around story holding these tales together, but it opens with quite an atmospheric beginning to kick off proceedings.
1 "Second Chance" - (20 minutes) A young man buys an old vintage 1926 Jordan car, which he restores, every single feature, including the original number plates. He takes it out for a drive on an old back road and then finds himself transported back to 1926.
There's nothing horrifying about this one, but there's a "Twilight Zone" spin on the material and how things play out. Rather slow-moving and sappy with Ed Begley Jr.'s musty narration adding to the ponderous pace in this stop and go affair. The robust music score was kinda off, but it was exceptionally well shot. Curtis seems to be directing from the script. It's not bad and has an endearing stroke to it, but its quite uneventful and far from intriguing. This one feels rather misplaced compared with the other two. I can't knock that this isn't a smart little fantasy, but it doesn't grip you either.
2 "No Such Thing as a Vampire" - (20 minutes) A professor living in a mansion in the eastern Europe with his wife, finds out that his wife has bite marks on her neck. He doesn't believe in vampires, but his superstitious servants and the surrounding village think otherwise. A doctor is called in to see her and he notices that the husband also has marks on his neck.
This broodingly unusual mystery is a tightly drawn up one idea concept and is shaped by its Victorian settings. It's more suggestive in its set-up and has things going on behind the scenes to throw you off course. Instead it gets rather clunky with a payoff that comes as quite a let down. Not that it wasn't good, just that I was expecting something more from this enliven mystery. Patrick Macnee is good in his sly performance, Elisha Cook Jr. equally so as superstitiously uptight servant. Horst Buchoiz and Anjanette Cormer are reasonably sound. The atmosphere is very bleak and is rallied up by the foreboding music score and flowing photography.
3 "Bobby" - (30 minutes) A lady is staying alone in a beach house, while her husband is on a business trip. So during one stormy night she decides to perform a magic ritual to hopefully bring back her dead son who accidentally drowned. Nothing happens for a while, but then she hears a knock on the door and there sits a shivering and soaking-wet Bobby.
Now this is more like it! Haunting, creepy and truly disquieting is the key to this one. This dark little item was indeed captivating by consistently tightening the screws with controlled suspense and lingering on some spine-tingling images. Curtis paces it briskly and milks it out nicely with sweeping camera movements and a selectively alienating music score. The distinct performances are very impressive by Joan Hackett and Lee H. Montgomery. Montgomery is downright eerie and Hackett is truly fitting as the unhinged mother. It made great use of clichéd devices, like the thunderstorm to generate atmosphere. The close quarters made it thrillingly taut with its encroaching shadows and quiet air. The mind-snapping premise has that ambiguous build up too it and plays around with that feeling where things aren't what they seem, like the second one. This one does leave a lasting impression with its genuinely macabre conclusion.
I guess one out of three ain't bad, but again if it wasn't for the splendour packed final segment it wouldn't be worth your time in tracking it down. Still it's worth it if do happen to come by it.
Review by lost-in-limbo from the Internet Movie Database.