The Veil featuring Boris Karloff - DVD review

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by SteveGon, May 29, 2002.

  1. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    In 1958, Hal Roach Studios produced a television horror anthology entitled The Veil. After nine episodes were in the can, the series was cancelled and none of the episodes were aired (save for the early seventies when they were edited into three compilation movies). The Veil would probably be forgotten were it not for the fact that Boris Karloff served as host and star of the series.
    So what is the premise behind The Veil? Well, it presented stories of ordinary people whose lives were touched by the supernatural. The ten uncut episodes featured on this two-disc set from Something Weird Video vary in quality. The series as a whole is a cut below other genre efforts like The Twilight Zone, but is still quite enjoyable.
    The episodes:
    Vision of Crime - A man (Robert Hardy) aboard a ship has a frightening vision of his brother being murdered. Returning home, he informs the police that the primary suspect is not guilty but is reluctant to tell them just how he knows this. The identity of the real killer isn't that hard to guess leaving the denouement rather lacking. Boris Karloff's turn as a police sergeant borders on the comic and detracts from the proceedings. A young Patrick MacNee, playing Karloff's assistant, takes things seriously and comes off far better.
    Girl on the Road - A motorist (Tod Andrews) stops to help a pretty young woman (Eve Brent) whose car has run out of gas. Immediately smitten with each other, they make plans for a rendezvous. Three's a crowd as the girl's invalid uncle (Boris Karloff) shows up and warns the young man to stay away from his niece. But why? What's going on? This episode is a solid effort though you can probably guess the ending, especially after the girl mysteriously disappears. Directed by George "The Wolf Man" Waggner.
    Food on the Table - Boris Karloff is very good here as a cold-hearted sea captain who mistreats and eventually poisons his loyal wife. But the dead will have their revenge! This is one of the best entries in the series. Given top billing on each episode of The Veil, Karloff actually deserves it here.
    The Doctors - Boris Karloff plays Carlo Marcabienti, the prominent physician in a small Italian village. Tony Travis plays his son Angelo, also a doctor, who is visiting from the big city. Soon after Angelo arrives, Carlo excuses himself as he has a prior commitment. In his father's absence, Angelo must attend to a dying young girl whose family refuses to let the unfamiliar young doctor attempt a life-saving operation. The elder Marcabienti then shows up, strangely silent, and the girl's family allows Angelo to perform the procedure. But Carlo later claims that he was never there! A decent episode. Note that Karloff performs without even attempting an Italian accent! This was also directed by George Waggner.
    The Crystal Ball - Edmund Vallier (Booth Colman) is a young writer who uses a crystal ball to spy on his ex-girlfriend and her new lover. Should he tell his publisher, who happens to be her husband, of the affair? Boris Karloff, in an amusing performance, is Edmund's playboy uncle. An okay episode.
    Genesis - An old farmer (Charles Meredith) dies and leaves two different wills. Which son will get the farm? Slimy weasel Jamie or hard-working John? It will take a visit from the deceased to put things right. Boris Karloff plays a helpful lawyer here. A pretty good episode, this was yet another series entry helmed by George Waggner.
    Destination Nightmare - Ron Hagerthy plays Peter Wade Jr., the pilot of a cargo plane who is entranced mid-flight by a ghostly face floating in the clouds. Following the ghost leads Peter to an eerie discovery and a connection to his still-living father, played by Boris Karloff. Another good episode.
    Summer Heat - While preparing dinner one hot summer night, milquetoast Mr. Paige (Harry Bartell) witnesses a murder in a nearby apartment (think Rear Window). After summoning the police, he discovers that the apartment in question is empty and that no one has lived there for months. And yet Mr. Paige insists that he has the right place! Days later, a woman who bears a striking resemblance to the murder victim moves into the apartment and is subsequently killed by an intruder. Can you say precognition? However, Mr. Paige is the primary suspect and must try to convince the police that he can identify the real killer. Boris Karloff plays a psychiatrist who helps the police question Mr. Paige. A pretty good episode, very reminiscent of The Twilight Zone.
    The Return of Madame Vernoy - Santha (Lee Torrance) is a young Indian woman who shocks her family and suitor by claiming that she is still in love with her husband from a former life. She insists on being called by her previous name of Madame Vernoy and with mother and boyfriend in tow, returns to her now much-older spouse in order to resume their marriage. But Mr. Vernoy doesn't believe in reincarnation and tries to rationalize her claims. In addition, he has on his mind financial woes that will affect his son Krishna (played by George Hamilton!), who likewise refuses to believe that his mother has returned. Is Santha telling the truth? If so, how can she convince her former husband and son? Another good episode. Here, Karloff plays Vernoy family friend Professor Charles Goncourt.
    Jack the Ripper - London, 1888. Walter Durst (Nial MacGinnis) is experiencing distinct visions of murder. Murders in the district of Whitechapel. When he goes to the police, he becomes a suspect himself. Can he convince the authorities of his abilities as a clairvoyant? Can he lead them to the real killer? A good episode with a neat surprise ending. This entry in the series is actually an episode of an unidentified British television anthology, similar in nature to The Veil. Apparently, it's inclusion as part of The Veil series was an attempt to save production dollars. Boris Karloff doesn't appear in the episode though he does perform his usual duties as host.
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    Digitally remastered from 35-mm fine-grain prints, the nine original episodes that comprise The Veil look darn good. The transfer is crisp and clear with virtually no grain. Some scenes are a trifle dark, but this never becomes a real distraction. The mono soundtrack is very clean and easy to listen to. Now we get to the tenth and final episode, Jack the Ripper, which originated as part of a British television anthology. The transfer here is not on par with the rest of the series, but it looks okay and is certainly watchable.
    Though labeled a "special edition", there is only one extra on this release (aside from the informative liner notes). And a doozy of an extra it is! You get two episodes of the Swedish television show 13 Demon Street. Created by The Wolf Man scribe Curt Siodmak, this thirteen-episode series, like The Veil, was never aired. Hosted by a disheveled Lon Chaney Jr., the show explored the same supernatural territory as its American counterpart. The two 13 Demon Street episodes featured here are The Vine of Death (the title says it all) and The Black Hand, a story that you'll be familiar with if you've seen The Hands of Orlac. These are both entertaining tales. The transfers here are rather spotty as the series was obviously low-budget (Siodmak directs them almost documentary-style) and the elements probably weren't in the best of shape. However, they are still watchable and I'm glad they were included. And dig those Swedish subtitles!
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    The Veil is a must-have for Boris Karloff aficionados and fans of Twilight Zone-type fare. You know who you are, run out and get a copy today!
    Transfer: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Content: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  2. Greg_S_H

    Greg_S_H Executive Producer

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    I didn't know about this release until your post, so thanks for the heads-up. I may have to check this out! Sure wish Thriller would make it to DVD. Box sets.
     
  3. Rex Bachmann

    Rex Bachmann Screenwriter

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    Last fall, I think, I purchased the Jack the Ripper disk that contains a subset of these episodes on it. The film quality of the one episode I managed to stay awake through was bad (along with the story), and the rest I could not bear.
    Maybe one day I will try again, but it hardly seems worth it.
     
  4. John Sparks

    John Sparks Screenwriter

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    Something Weird Video has some great titles. Go to their site @ somethingweird.com and be treated to quite a few way out films. I have "The Veil" and a few others.
    You won't be dissatified! [​IMG]
     
  5. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    John, thanks for the link. I'll check it out!
     

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