Night Gallery Episode 10: A Fear of Spiders/Junior/Marmalade Wine/The Academy

General Information

Directors: John Astin, Theodore J. Flicker, Jerrold Freedman, and Jeff Corey

Writers: Rod Serling, Gene Kearney, and Jerrold Freedman

Cast: Patrick O’Neal, Kim Stanley, Wally Cox, Robert Morse, Rudy Vallee, Leif Erickson, Pat Boone, Tom Pedi, Barbara Flicker, Bill Svanoe, Larry Linville, Ed Call, Stanley Waxman, Robert Gibbons, E.A. Sirianni, and John Gruber

Composer: None (Stock Music)

Gallery Painter: Tom Wright

Air Date: 10/6/1971

 

A Fear of Spiders

Overview

Night Gallery A Fear of SpidersUpon rejecting his neighbor Elizabeth Croft (Kim Stanley), gourmet critic Justus Walters (Patrick O’Neal) finds himself in a spider-infested home. Unable to confront the nightmare in his own bedroom, Justus calls on Elizabeth for assistance—with a horrifying twist.

Despite operating from a ridiculous narrative, “A Fear of Spiders” benefits from a creepy execution. Also commendable is the performance of Kim Stanley, who complements the spider menace with a subtle human threat.

 

Pros

By spurning the advances of an affectionate neighbor, berating a simple janitor for his lack of culture, and repaying kindness with cruelty on every occasion, Justus quicklyNight Gallery A Fear of Spiders establishes himself as a prissy, arrogant snob with no positive qualities whatsoever. Viewers with a sense of “justice” will therefore appreciate the ultimate fate that befalls the main character, who, though initially confident in his superiority over others, must put himself at the mercy of those he wronged when seeking to escape his greatest fear: a hairy arachnid with a giant body, a set of eight legs, and a palate for human flesh.

 

Cons

Forgoing the realistic and skin-crawling effects of Tarantula, this segment features a moving prop spider in lieu of actual insect footage.

 

Analysis

Night Gallery A Fear of SpidersExploiting a primal phobia shared by the majority of people, “A Fear of Spiders” may evoke praise for its psychological approach to insect-themed horror—similar to Them!, the original version of The Fly, and other “big bug” classics of the 1950s.

 

Concluding Comments

“A Fear of Spiders” is a chilling, well-acted, and occasionally humorous Night Gallery segment. Horror fans will thus enjoy this piece, which suffers only from a Z-grade special effect in the middle act.

 

Overall Quality: 9/10

 

Junior

Overview

Disturbed by the cries of his son Junior (Bill Svanoe), a man (Wally Cox) awakens in the middle of the night, takes a languid stroll to the bathroom sink, and preparesNight Gallery Junior a glass of water for his “baby”—revealed to be a docile, newborn version of the Frankenstein monster created by Universal Studios.

“Junior” offers a modern twist on a famous novel by Mary Shelley. Horror/comedy buffs may therefore wish to view this segment, which, following in the tradition of The Munsters, contains an absurd parody of Frankenstein’s creature.

 

Pros

Night Gallery JuniorBy playing his character with a straight face, Wally Cox may deceive the audience into believing that a serious, perhaps even frightening, situation awaits both him and his child upon entering the nursery room—an aspect that conceals the incongruous nature of Junior and his striking resemblance to a classic Universal Monster.

 

Cons

The character of Junior is marred by a cringe-inducing baby voice, which borders on the absurd—even for a comedic interpretation of the Frankenstein monster. (Herman Munster,Night Gallery Junior on the other hand, speaks in a rich baritone that serves to contrast with his goofy, childlike demeanor.)

With a running time of only two minutes, “Junior” also suffers from an anticlimactic punchline. (However, when compared to “Witches’ Feast,” “Miss Lovecraft Sent Me,” and other blackout sketches featured in the early episodes of season two, “Junior” stands out for its clever ending.)

 

Analysis

?

 

Concluding Comments

Coupling infantile antics with Gothic horror tropes, “Junior” is a silly but amusing filler piece. Nevertheless, those with a mature taste in humor will likely choose to avoid this segment.

 

Overall Quality: 6/10

 

Marmalade Wine

Overview

Lost in the woods during a violent rainstorm, photojournalist Roger Blacker (Robert Morse) encounters Dr. Francis Deeking (Rudy Vallee)—an eccentric surgeon withNight Gallery Marmalade Wine a dark secret. Providing Dr. Deeking with information about the future, Roger ends up in a terrible predicament.

Combining a surreal atmosphere with a mad scientist theme, “Marmalade Wine” should appeal to fans of experimental horror. That being said, this segment may invite criticism for its nonsensical plot, copious exposition, and disturbing subject matter.

 

Pros

Night Gallery Marmalade WineShowcasing milky white trees, pitch-black landscapes, and stairs leading to an otherworldly realm, “Marmalade Wine” deserves recognition for its dreamlike scenery. (On a side note, Lost in Space enthusiasts will observe many parallels between the shadow dimension of “The Anti-Matter Man” and the bizarre setting featured in this segment.)

 

Cons

While chatting with Dr. Deeking, Roger begins making accurate predictions about the future for no apparent reason—a random and poorly explained element Night Gallery Marmalade Wineof Jerrold Freedman’s narrative.

(Spoilers beyond this point)

To prevent his guest from leaving, Dr. Deeking amputates both of Roger’s feet—a twist that, though reminiscent of Tusk (a body horror film directed by Kevin Smith) and Stephen King’s Misery, seems out of place in a comedic Night Gallery segment.

 

Analysis

Night Gallery Marmalade WineDespite its incoherent execution, “Marmalade Wine” contains a laudable message about the dangers of lying for the sake of impressing others.

 

Concluding Comments

“Marmalade Wine” captures the essence of a typical nightmare. Unfortunately, this segment fails to develop its horrifying premise in a logical or compelling manner.

 

Overall Quality: 5/10

 

The Academy

Overview

Hoping to reform his wayward son, a concerned father named Holston (Pat Boone) goes on a guided tour of a military school. While accompanied by a no-nonsenseNight Gallery The Academy director (Leif Erickson), Holston discovers something very unusual about the cadets at the academy.

Preying on fear of paternal abandonment, “The Academy” will resonate with viewers on a primal level. It should be noted, however, that Rod Serling’s narrative is hampered by a premature plot twist, a strange ending, and an overall absence of dramatic tension.

 

Pros

Taking place on a bright sunny day, progressing at a soft languid pace, and focusing extensively on Holston’s casual tour of a traditional military school, this segment Night Gallery The Academyopens with a deceptively pleasant and ordinary atmosphere that, when coupled with the unassuming presence of Pat Boone, serves to mask the true, awful nature of the eponymous academy—a subtle and slow-burn method of unfolding a nightmarish scenario. (Two of the three preceding segments in this episode, in contrast, combine dark musical cues with overt horror imagery in order to unnerve and terrify the audience.)

 

Cons

Night Gallery The Academy“The Academy” struggles to take its main plot twist (i.e. a military school filled with middle-aged and elderly cadets) in an interesting direction.

 

Analysis

Though potentially justified in his decision, Holston appears to represent parents who neglect raising their children due to laziness, callousness, or disregard for familial responsibility.

 

Concluding Comments

Lacking scary monsters and gory situations, “The Academy” provides a unique and effective twist on the horror genre. Night Gallery fans are therefore advised to view this segment, ambiguous character motives notwithstanding.

 

Overall Quality: 7/10

 

If you enjoyed this post, please enter your email address in the subscription box to stay tuned for more updates.

Please note: Comments that are malicious, offensive, or excessively profane will be removed. Off-topic messages belong in the About section.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *