Director: John Brahm
Writer: Charles Beaumont
Cast: Martin Balsam, Will Kuluva, Maggie Mahoney, William Mims, Phil Chambers, Lennie Bremen, Ed Barth, Craig Curtis, Milton Parsons, David Bond, Bob Mitchell, Robert L. McCord, Billy Beck, and Marcel Hillaire
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 4/4/1963
Production Code: 4860
After the closing of Ferguson’s Wax Museum, curator Martin Lombard Senescu (Martin Balsam) brings home all of the figures displayed on Murderers Row: Jack the Ripper, Albert W. Hicks, Henry Désiré Landru, William Burke, and William Hare—much to the chagrin of Martin’s wife Emma (Maggie Mahoney). Though initially content with his arrangement, Martin has a change of heart when dead bodies begin appearing in his basement.
Combining serial killer tropes with tongue-in-cheek undertones, “The New Exhibit” will appeal to fans of the black comedy genre. Specifically, this episode should be commended for its creepy and original twist on the movie Psycho—also featuring Martin Balsam.
Director John Brahm deserves praise for emphasizing subtle changes in the expressions of each wax figure, which reinforce the delusion experienced by the main character. Upon claiming his first “victim,” for example, Jack the Ripper appears to hover over the deceased with an evil smirk etched on his face, implying that he and his fellow dummies possess unique and malevolent personalities of their own.
(Spoilers beyond this point)
In the climactic scene, the wax dummies apparently spring to life and attack Martin with knives, hatchets, and other melee weapons that one would expect a serial killer to employ—a chilling and nightmarish finale that may remind horror fans of Maniac (1980), which offers a similar fate for its homicidal protagonist.
“The New Exhibit” contains a worthwhile lesson on the destructive power of obsession, especially when dangerous, unproductive, or financially demanding hobbies become the sole focus of an individual’s life.
A horror-themed episode of The Twilight Zone, “The New Exhibit” earns its reputation as a season-four highlight. Especially captivating is the performance of Balsam, who adds an air of conflict to the character of Martin.
Overall Quality: 10/10
If you enjoyed this post, please enter your email address in the subscription box to stay tuned for more updates.