Monday, June 29, 2020

Batman in the 1980s Issue 5: May 1980

The Dark Knight in the 1980s
by Jack Seabrook &
Peter Enfantino

Batman #323

"Shadow of the Cat!"
Story by Len Wein
Art by Irv Novick & Bob Smith

Batman pays a visit to Selina Kyle, planning to arrest her for robbing the Riverside Museum, but she denies any involvement and escapes. Bruce Wayne reports to the office and meets his new redheaded secretary, Caroline Crown; he is surprised when Catwoman appears to ask for his help, still pleading innocence. After she escapes again, Batman heads to Riverside Museum after dark to look for clues. He finds a piece of thread snagged on an exhibit case.

Catwoman visits a pawnbroker named Pinch to interrogate him, while Lucius Fox deals with his irate teenaged son at home. Batman studies the thread under a microscope in the Batcave and thinks he's onto something; Catwoman visits a warehouse at the waterfront after dark. During her exploration, she nearly sets off an old booby trap but is saved by the sudden appearance of Batman. After a brief set-to, she gets woozy and accidentally sets off that same booby trap, releasing poison gas. Batman uses his handy gas filter to save them both.

Batman and Catwoman are about to have a deep conversation about her health problems when they fall through a trap door and are caught in a giant, sticky web. From above, Cat-Man cackles gleefully about having trapped the two of them in his cat's cradle! To be continued!

Jack: I know that Peter prefers his Bat-Tales on the gritty side, but I thought "Shadow of the Cat!" was delightful. Once again, Len Wein is setting subplots in motion (the scene with Lucius Fox, for instance) and juggling various plot threads before weaving them together at the end. I love a good cliffhanger and I love seeing Catwoman in her vintage costume. Novick and Smith contribute classic '70s Bat-art, even though it's 1980, and the whole thing is enjoyable. I was not bothered by the romance between Selina and Bruce this time out, though I have to question why he knows she's Catwoman but she doesn't know he's Batman.

And starring...
Corporate Merchandise Man!
Peter: Cat-Man? Have I been asleep and awoke in a garden of kitsch? Len better be ready with a whole lot of 'splainin' next issue, as it seems there are a boatload of coincidences going on. At this point, we have to surmise that Cat-Man (I just love typing that) is Selina's GP, right? He's the one that told her the only cure for her malady (which is...?) is an ultra-rare super-hard-to-find herb that no one, I mean no one, can get their hands on, even if they went down to the Gotham Museum and stole it from the rare, exotic herb display. Wouldn't it have just been easier to throw in the towel (a towel we know is going to be thrown eventually anyway!) and 'fess that this Bruce & Selina Dating Game stuff is just not conducive to a playboy hero? The fact that Bruce knows Selina is Catwoman but Selina doesn't know about Bruce is quite confusing and I must confess that my wall is full of sticky notes to keep me abreast of the situation. I had to laugh when Bats sees Cat-Man towering above him and exclaims, "I should have known!" Well, why would you? The guy hasn't made an appearance since 'tec #318 way back in 1963. Getting back to my opening comment, can we all just stand back and revel in the sight of a man dressed as a cat with comicdom's laziest logo on his chest? Love the highly un-PC moment when Bruce does a double-take and asks his new secretary, Caroline Crown, where his usual frowzy old maid is and, by the way, "if there's anything I can do to make you feel at home..." wink wink! Despite (or because of) the dangerously high level of cheese in this story, I can't help but give this one two paws up.

The Brave and the Bold #162

"Operation: Time Bomb"
Story by Bill Kelley
Art by Jim Aparo

Autumn 1944, and the Iron Major plans to pull off "Operation: Time Bomb" to blow up the Allied invaders in Western France with booby-trapped tanks. In London, Bruce Wayne's friend Alan Davies suspects sabotage at a munitions depot and is killed; Batman parachutes into France on the trail of the saboteurs and meets up with Sgt. Rock and Easy Co.

Leaving the soldiers to deal with a Nazi attack, Batman locates the saboteurs' hideout but is unable to glean any useful information. The Iron Major learns that Sgt. Rock is nearby and Batman figures out that the tanks are rigged. He heads off to a fortress and finds the Iron Major plotting and planning, but one swipe of that iron hand and the Dark Knight is down for the count.

Just as the Iron Major is about to unmask Batman, Easy Co. bursts in and saves the day. Rock and the Iron Major trade blows until the sergeant and Batman make a last-second escape before the whole place blows sky high. In the rubble, Rock finds an iron hand and wonders if the Major escaped once again.

Jack: Jim Aparo's art is as smooth and slick as I've seen it, so this story is a visual feast from start to finish. Bill Kelley's script also avoids the pitfall we so often see in the team-up books, that of two characters going off on separate adventures and hooking up at the end. Here, Batman and Rock work together seamlessly and neither's mission would succeed without the other. I have no problem with Batman in 1944, since he was actually in comics at that time. The only odd thing is that his look is vintage 1980, not at all the Batman of 1944.

Peter: First off, I have to say that I could never get with these "Batman in World War II "stories, as they make no sense whatsoever, no matter how many times you try to explain to me the "displaced time" theory or give me the "comics are fantasy so just shut up and enjoy" argument. The "present time" story lines we are reading are clearly set in, for example, 1980. Certain fads are commented on, presidents are name-dropped, etc. Obviously, Batman fighting a battle with Sgt. Rock (and don't even get me started on how the heck Bats got to the area where he met up with the Sarge) makes no... sense... whatsoever. That would make him at least 65 years old when he's macking on his latest secretary. Hell, he's fighting guys who have giant nuclear-powered boomerangs, so there must be a handy time machine around when you need a plot device. The only plus to this disposable tale is the return of the Iron Major and his deadly steel right paw.

Andru & Giordano
Detective Comics #490

"Requiem for a Martyr!"
Story by Denny O'Neil
Art by Don Newton & Dan Adkins

Gotham is about to be the home of worldwide peace talks and so becomes the target of terrorism. The committee is composed of men of the cloth, all hoping their agreements will lead to detente throughout the world. One man who does not share those sentiments is the Sensei, so he's gone to quite a lot of trouble to make sure the mansion the men are meeting in is destroyed. With well-placed explosives, Sensei means to set off a chain reaction resulting in a massive earthquake.

Luckily, Batman gets wind of the plot and takes action. Being a hero is certainly no easy task and the Dark Knight is shot at, his arm is severely damaged, and his helicopter is shot down by the police. But, eventually, he makes his way to the estate where he finds an ally waiting for him... Ra's al Ghul! Together, the odd couple rescue the men of peace, but the earthquake goes on as scheduled and it appears that both Sensei and Ra's are killed in the massive explosion.

Peter: There's a lot of hooey going on in "Requiem for a Martyr!" In the first place, there has to be an easier way to kill a room full of men than an earthquake. What if the fissure went south instead of north? Was there a back-up plan? Seeding the clouds until the estate was flooded? When Bats discovers he can't stop the explosion, he jumps in his Whirlybat and heads for the mansion. Gordon is told by one of his men that an "aircraft is approaching and it looks like Batman." Gordon says he can't take chances and orders the copter shot down. Really? That quickly? Gordon doesn't for a second consider that there might be something in the wind (or under the ground)? This is called "lazy writing." Denny just wanted to get to the (literally) explosive finale and whatever it took to get there was fine. Same goes for Batman's disabling injury. He can barely move that arm (he claims to have torn a tendon), but we all know he'll be just fine next issue. At least the artwork is still solid.

Jack: Despite my delight at the appearance of the Whirlybat, I too was troubled by Gordon's order to shoot down Batman. If someone could radio Gordon that Batman was approaching, why couldn't Batman have radioed ahead that he was on his way? Or told them to clear out the place? Why did he have to rush there unannounced? The story's narrative is thin and it's padded out to get to 22 pages, but I liked seeing Ra's al Ghul and Talia at the end.

"Hip ball change... take that!"
"Dance of Death!"
Story by Mike Barr
Art by John Calnan & Joe Giella

Someone is out to kill famed ballet star Charles Rey. Could it be his son or daughter, both of whom have inherited his ballet talents and both of whom hate their father beyond words? Babs Gordon a/k/a "The Dominoed Daredoll" a/k/a Batgirl puts on her deerstalker hat to investigate and eventually smokes out the would-be assassin.

Peter: "Dance of Death" is harmless nonsense. Could I take a regular diet of this stuff? Probably not, so I hope the scripts become a bit more substantive. I do like when Batgirl discovers Charles's son, Philipe is the bad guy and he attempts to assault her via his killer plie At least that's something new.

Jack: Calnan and Giella do not make a good art combo and the story was a dud. For once, the most likely suspect turns out to be guilty. I was figuring on the sister for the culprit.

Story by Bob Rozakis
Art by George Tuska & Bob Smith

A woman gets stuck in a snowbank late at night and becomes worried when a shadowy character emerges from the haze. But all is well when she discovers it's only one of Gotham's Finest here to help.

Peter: My synopsis is actually more words than "Encounter" contains. It's only three pages, but that's a good thing since it doesn't give George Tuska much time to lay waste to the panels. This "Tales of Gotham City" feature continues to be inconsequential and a waste of space.

Jack: I don't care for Tuska's work either, but the ending was unexpected. I did not suspect it was a policeman!

"The Deadly Answers!"
Story by Jack C. Harris
Art by Alex Saviuk & John Calnan

Dick Grayson's gal-pal Jennifer is in tears when she busts into his dorm room. She has to take her Physiology test a second time!!! Seems that her teacher, Professor Milton, has discovered that some enterprising individual stole the answers to the first test and sold them to some of his students. All must pay for the sins of the few. Jennifer is distraught (suicide is discussed) and Dick, thinking selfishly, reflects how bored he's been lately and how a good cheating scandal might just get his adrenaline flowing. Meanwhile, Dick notices that a strange man in black has been following him and Jennifer all over campus. Who is this strange man (to be continued)? Robin sets a trap for the evil test cheater guy and lands... Professor Milton, who didn't get that promotion and is now in hock. Poor guy needed the dough and what's the big deal? Robin smiles as Milton is led off in chains and Jennifer is happy as a just-groomed poodle.

Peter: Well, if you can't dazzle us with brilliance... fill the pages with goofy crap that will at least raise a couple of smiles on the reader's face. My favorite moment is when Robin is closing in on the nefarious test answer criminal and he's foiled by a couple of dopey students who are tracking the thief as well. They show up with guns drawn! This is one serious campus. As dumb as this script is, I have to say I found it more enjoyable than the main event this issue.

Jack: I didn't, and enough John Calnan already! He penciled the Batgirl story and inked this one. I had to chuckle when the villain read my mind and told Robin that he was "'stooping awfully low'" by getting involved in a cheating scandal.

"Lightning Strikes Out!"
Story by Martin Pasko
Art by Pat Broderick & Frank McLaughlin

Ex-athlete, now high school basketball coach, Jefferson Pierce investigates the disappearance of one of his students. Luckily, when he's not coaching, he's Black Lightning, a cool-as-a-cucumber mofo who fights crime in the ghetto and tries to elevate the spirits of the poor, so he can use his super powers (something about channeling his inner energy) to rescue the kidnapped youth from a burning building. Unfortunately, while initiating the escape, BL uses his powers to turn on the sprinkler system and accidentally electrocutes himself! He and the student are still trapped as our story ends.

Peter: I have no previous encounters with the fifth-tier hero known as Black Lightning, so I had to do a deep Wiki-dive. All I really needed to know could be summed up in two words: Tony Isabella. Yep, Tony "Make Mine a XXL with Anchovies and extra pepperoni" Isabella is the creator of Black Lightning. I obviously haven't read Isabella's Black Lightning series (which ran for 11 issues in 1977-78) but, based on the Wiki description, it's probably every bit as awful as Marty Pasko's version, which is jam-packed with what I'd call "white/black language." You know, like: "'Be cool, m'man--an jus' lemme get down wit' muh electric boogie! Else we ain't gonna be nuthin' but Kentucky fried turkeys!'" I'm not sure that African-Americans ever talked like that; they might have, but if you're a publisher wouldn't you have someone other than a honky write this stuff just to give you a bit of credibility? I will say that I'm intrigued by the supporting cast, in particular a group of Haitians that may be on BL's side but don't act like it. As for the character himself, Black Lightning is nothing more than Sam Wilson or T'Challa, a warrior of the ghetto; hardly anything startling or inventive going on here. Recently, Isabella stirred up quite a fuss when DC made some changes to the character, using some non-Code approved language to get his point across.

Jack: I remember buying Black Lightning back in the '70s and thinking it wasn't much good. While it's hard to read the Black speech cliches in this story, after a while they get piled so high that it becomes campy and entertaining. I like Pat Broderick's art style and was grateful to have Frank McLaughlin inking rather than Calnan again. The cliff hanger at the end makes it look like the hero is dead. Is that so? Tune in next time!

Next Week...
Even Dracula digs
The Crimson Chronicles!

Monday, June 22, 2020

The Warren Report Issue 36: June-July 1972

The Critical Guide to 
the Warren Illustrated Magazines
by Uncle Jack
& Cousin Peter

Vampirella #17 (June 1972)

"...Beware, Dreamers!" 
Story by T. Casey Brennan
Art by Jose Gonzalez

"Horus Tomb of the Gods" 
Story and Art by Esteban Maroto

"Death in the Shadows" ★1/2
Story by Doug Moench
Art by Luis Garcia Mozos

"A Man's World" 
Story by Mike Jennings
Art by Jose Bea

"Lover of the Bayou" 
Story by Jan Strnad
Art by L.M. Roca

"The Wedding Ring" 
Story by Steve Skeates
Art by Jerry Grandenetti

"...Beware, Dreamers!"
Vampirella, Pendragon, and Adam Van Helsing row up the Florida Everglades, searching for something... Vampirella can feel something but she doesn't know exactly what it is. Maybe it's the hooded guy staked to the ground? Yep, that's it. The trio disembark and approach but Pendragon (in one of those wise old man moments) opines that perhaps they should take the man's hood off and interrogate him before they set him free. The other two dopes agree, they take off the hood, and all three are blasted by a ray-beam which transports them into a dream-world.

Meanwhile, a schmuck named Ernie Johnson is reading the New York Times best-seller, The Crimson Chronicles (now in paperback), when he decides he wants to serve the Cult of Chaos in some form. Ernie summons up a demon, who explains that the Cult is looking to add a "Dreamslayer" and, if Ernie decides to take the job, he will travel into the mind of (guy on a stake) Norto, an alien who was imprisoned by the Cult centuries before and is now designed to be a trap for unwary passersby. Ernie says he's up to the job and so the demon fits him with a Statue of Liberty skull-cap and an "I'm a Demon Worshipper" logo-ed robe and sends him into the dream-world.

Give me your tired, your poor...
There, Vampi, Pendi, and Adam are trying to stay out of trouble; they've met up and introduced themselves to Norto, heard his sob story, and then been chased by a pterodactyl into a cave. Exhausted, the trio take a nap and awaken refreshed just in time to encounter Captain Dream-Slayer. Vampi makes quick work of him by hypnotizing the loser into turning his power beams on himself. He exits stage left but promises a return. The hypnosis trick has left Vampirella drained of power and she's fresh out of silicon blood (I just knew she only had so much space in that costume for utilities), so Adam volunteers his neck.

After some half-hearted refusals, Vampi goes all out and drains her beau, killing him and leaving her depressed. Dream-Slayer returns, impersonating Vampi's first love, Tristan of Drakulon, but the illusion doesn't last long. Norto returns to battle Dream-Slayer but is no match for the goofy, cactus-headed freak. Norto is killed, which infuriates the Cult of Chaos (who wanted him to remain a bear-trap in the woods for centuries to come), and Ernie Johnson is vaporized. The trio are transported back into our world and discover that what happens in Dream-World stays in Dream-World. Adam is just fine!

Unfortunately, his Pop, the ultra-hyper Phil Spector-look-alike, senses that Adam has died and been reborn. "My son is a vampire" hypothesizes the old kook, and he hops on a plane with a suitcase full of wooden stakes, promising his son's torment won't last long.

Who goosed the vampiress?
If you were worried that T. Casey Brennan would bring pretension to a purple prose-necessary strip like Vampirella, you can rest easy. Pretension isn't the problem here; clarity might be our new goal. "...Beware, Dreamers!" certainly has its moments of kitsch fun (Dream-Slayer's Marvel-inspired get-up is number one on my list), but I spent way too much time muttering, "Wait... what's that now?" to ideas like Norto in a remote part of the swamp being the Cult of Chaos's grand scheme to whisk innocents away to another dimension. Wouldn't he attract more business, I don't know, in a populated part of the world? Lots of gators and cottonmouths in Dream-Land, that's for sure. And shouldn't the demon have explained to Ernie/Dream-Dope that he should not, no matter what, don't even think about it, kill Norto? And raise your hand if you saw the whole, "Wow, Adam is fine because it was all a dream" resolution coming. Brennan still finds a way to use forty words instead of "Yes" or "No" and he has a very annoying habit of going over events that have taken place in the same story. Recaps of what came before this issue, fine; recaps of what happened three pages ago, not so fine. Perhaps it's because the writer is supplied with a chick who runs around in a teeny weeny, but this was the first Brennan story I managed to get through without rolling my eyes five times. It's still not great writing but I'll allow that it's a little entertaining.

"Horus Tomb of the Gods"
Two Egyptian lovers walk through another existence. Are they dead? Are they dreaming? Do you think I know? "Horus (no punctuation) Tomb of the Gods" has to be one of the most confusing Warren stories I've had the displeasure to run across in some time, despite some pretty pictures by Maroto. None of the narrative makes much sense. There's talk of a "sleeper" (and the unnamed male of the couple is revealed in the climax to be the "sleeper") but does that mean the action is taking place in a dreamland? In addition to the head-scratching "plot," we get some flowery prose from Maroto (He felt alone. Infinitely alone. It was as if he had slept through all of recorded time. That corner of the universe that first spawned him was unknown, nameless. He had nothing, only solitude and the aching memory of a girl.) and, though I praise the artist for craftsmanship, I damn him for draftsmanship. There's little to no sequencing with the panels, so my tiny brain has a difficult time following the path without bread crumbs (or arrows). This is just dreadful stuff.

"Death in the Shadows"
Melissa is discovered in a cemetery doing "murderous things" to the caretaker and mumbling nonsense about vampires and the undead. Despite protests from her parents, the girl is quickly committed to a mental hospital, where she grows progressively more violent. Eventually, the doctors use shock treatment but are convinced Melissa is cured and she is released to her Mom and Pop. But mysterious events occur as soon as she gets home; a series of vampire murders seem to happen on nights when she takes walks. Then she discovers her mother's blood-drained corpse and knows she has to get back to the graveyard to finish the business she had started. As she's heading out, though, her father jumps out of the shadows, admits that he's the vampire, and bites his little girl on the neck. The ol' switcheroo only works if it's not predictable and "Death in the Shadows" is way too predictable (Melissa asks her Mom why Dad is never around during the day just a couple pages before the shocking reveal). There's nothing in the way of plot or writing that's original, but Garcia's pencils are stark and atmospheric (especially the moody family drive home from the nuthouse); the artist has Melissa run the gamut from pallid to hauntingly beautiful.

Someone spelling Bea?
Newspaper reporter Leon Campbell is assigned to investigate an all-woman's colony called Sapphoville, located somewhere in the desert. The angle is that, in a nearby town, pieces of bodies (everything but the torso, it seems) have been found and the publisher wants to know how this is affecting the gals. The sapphos are open to the reporter joining their commune, but Leon soon discovers the truth: the girls are cannibals, living off the dead bodies of the men they've been slaughtering. Vampirella had found itself crawling out of the junkyard it was born in (during the dark ages) to stand as a pretty darn good book, with several quality stories per issue, but "A Man's World" and the two stories that precede it give me pause. All three have really atrocious, near-amateurish scripts with logic holes you could drive a hearse through and inane "twist endings" that are pert near telecast halfway through the story. What's going on here? Is it just my imagination or did Jose Bea have a little help with the art chores on "A Man's World?" The usual Bea flourishes are here and there but, in spots (especially the deer-eyed sapphos), it looks like someone else's pencils or inks.

"Lover of the Bayou"
"Lover of the Bayou" isn't a classic either, but it's at least a bit atmospheric and has the always-creepy swamp as the location. Sexy but stifled, Lanora lives on the bayou and dreams of meeting "The Lover," a perhaps-mythological creature that has been, supposedly, murdering lost travelers in these parts. Restless, Lanora takes a boat out on the swamp, becomes mired, and is nearly attacked by a gator before she's rescued by a striking man in a turtleneck. The mysterious stranger offers a room in his shack to Lanora and she quickly accepts, but titillation turns to terror when the man transforms into a tentacled creature and "loves" Lanora to death! The Lovecraftian creature is never explained (Lanora's pop tells her, "Ain't nobody knows; ain't nobody wants to know") but, as is the case with these weirdo thrillers, that's a plus. We don't really need a backstory about this guy cursed by Satan to live as an octopus in the bayou for sleeping with Mrs. Beelzebub. Luis Roca's art (in his final Warren appearance), using quite a bit of shading to get the mood across, is really sharp; Roca's swamp is not a friendly place to be.

"The Wedding Ring"
Roger is summoned to the small town home of his old friends, Bernie and Claire. As he jumps off the bus and walks to their house, he remembers how he had dated Claire in college but, since she wouldn't put out, he had to dump her. Now, Roger is astonished to learn that Claire and Bernie have married. Claire meets him at the gate of her huge house but tells him he has to leave; Bernie has not returned from business (we know, from a prologue, that ol' Bernie is dead, choked to death by a mysterious neck ring which shrinks and suffocates him). Roger, thinking this would be a good time to play hide the salami, edges Claire back into her bedroom. Afterward (as all the 1950s' men's magazines used to say after two characters had done the dirty), Roger awakens to find his throat constricted by a shrinking ring. The lights come on, the room is filled with wailing women, and Claire is crying. The End. Obviously, a deep discourse on the sexually frustrated woman and the stigma society puts on her for enjoying carnal relations. Or something like that.

I could cheat and feed the whole synopsis of "The Wedding Ring" into Google-Psychobabble, but I'm not one to rely on outside influences. Besides, all I have to do is look at the writer credit and it says all I need to know about the clarity of the tale. But to say the climax is a bit abrupt is fair, I think. Jerry Grandenetti, perhaps, has found his apex; his swirling tree limbs and strangling tresses are a wonder to behold. Who are these maidens and why do they seem to get off on killing Claire's lovers? And how do they get the ring to shrink? Why are the women chanting near-Lovecraftian verses (Is Cthluntla--or Chlunthlua--a second cousin to the Great God himself?)? And, most of all, why am I so relieved this issue is over? -Peter

Jack-Peter, you did not mention two highlights of hilarity in this issue of Vampirella: the letter by Don McGregor about his story from issue #15 and the LONG discourse by Doug Moench about his tale from the same issue. Moench goes on and on but, in the end, I agree with his central point. The two discourses are reprinted at the end of this post.

There's some terrific art in this mag; unfortunately, for the most part, the stories don't match up. I gave highest marks to "Lover of the Bayou," with its gorgeous work by Roca and a tolerable story by Strnad. It's not overwritten, unlike other tales this time out, but the ending--as is so often the case with Warren--is somewhat disappointing. These writers really knew how to build things up but rarely succeeded in delivering the last-panel punch. "Death in the Shadows" has spooky art by Mozos and the whole package creates a nice sense of dread. I completely agree with you on the Vampirella story, though agreeing that it's pretty good for Brennan is a low bar indeed. I still love Gonzalez's art on this strip.

"A Man's World" is so darn goofy that I kind of liked it and, again, Bea's art is very good. "Horus" features excellent Maroto art in service of a murky and confusing story whose end was obvious on page one, while I enjoyed "The Wedding Ring," especially for Grandenetti's art, but the end was a giant "what the heck?" especially the big grasshopper that the ladies appear to be worshiping.

Eerie #40 (June 1972)

"The Brain of Frankenstein"★1/2
Story by Fred Ott
Art by Mike Ploog

"The Once Powerful Prince"★1/2
Story by Steve Skeates
Art by Jaime Brocal

"The Paradise Tree"
Story & Art by Esteban Maroto

Story & Art by Sanho Kim

"The Prodigy Son"
Story by Don Glut
Art by Jose Bea

"Pity the Grave Digger!"★1/2
Story by Buddy Saunders
Art by Rafael Auraleon

Dr. Christian Frankenstein is at a party at the home of Lady Harcourt in London. It may be 1845, but the lady has not tired of hearing stories like those told by Mary Shelley so, at her invitation, Dr. Frankenstein launches into the tale of "The Brain of Frankenstein." It seems his father's creation killed his father and fled. Christian has preserved his father's brain and implants it in a newly sewn-together body, with results that are predictable (confused rampage) and unpredictable (anemia that causes a desire for blood). Meanwhile, Christian's friend, Dr. Hans Kemmer, hates his father and vows to kill the monster he has become.

The monster kills some folks and drains their blood. Hans shoots the monster, but only hits him in the shoulder. Christian transplants Kemmer's brain into the monster's body and villagers shoot and kill the creature, not knowing it is animated by Kemmer's brain. His story successfully concluded, Dr. Christian Frankenstein welcomes new guest Dr. Kemmer, who displays stitches on his forehead from a "minor operation."

Mike Ploog really comes into his own with this story, which is an utterly charming mashup of favorite Warren themes. I guess the brain in Kemmer's body is that of the original Dr. Frankenstein? Not bad. A nice tale of revenge that is really an excuse to revive the monster and send him on a rampage, the only false note in the whole thing is the unnecessary addition of vampiric tendencies in our favorite lumbering behemoth. Other than that, "The Brain of Frankenstein" is just about perfect.

Before he turned into a giant creature bent on destruction (see Eerie #37), "The Once Powerful Prince" Targo had another adventure. He came ashore to visit his friend John, a scientist, asking to borrow his submarine and a frogman suit. Targo headed for the undersea kingdom of Manaii to ask his father, the king, for another magic ring that lets him breathe underwater and command fish. The king obliges and Targo sets out to get his old ring back.

"The Once Powerful Prince"
His first ring had been stolen by a beautiful blonde who gave it to a modern day pirate, a tubby, balding man who puts it on and uses its powers to rob ships. Targo sees the pirate riding on the back of a whale and engages in hand to hand combat, eventually killing the man when he is crushed between the whale and the side of a ship. Targo recovers his ring and swims off.

I guess Steve Skeates thought he had a good thing in the character of Prince Targo, who was last seen about to wreak havoc on mankind. Perhaps that's why, instead of continuing the last story, which ended on a cliffhanger, he decided to write this one, which takes place prior to the last story. It's a breezy read and Brocal's art is, as always, above average, but Prince Targo himself is still not a very well developed character.

Dax is a moron!
Tired of wandering around, Dax tries to cut wood from a tree to make a fire, but "The Paradise Tree" rebels and tosses Dax into a deep pit. He lands in the underground palace of Astartea, a stunning woman who hasn't seen a man in way too long. Despite being surrounded by gorgeous women who will give him whatever he wants, Dax announces that he plans to leave. Astartea and Dax get it on and she informs him that she's trapped there by a spell. The only way to break it is by smashing an incense burner. Despite Astartea's pleas, Dax smashes the censer and everything goes bad. The demon Ashtaroth appears and reclaims Astartea, who turns back into a snake, which she had been before the spell took over. Presumably, Dax is able to escape.

"The Paradise Tree" is more enjoyable than the first Dax adventure, and Maroto's art is beyond reproach, especially the gorgeous Astartea. There is an unintentionally funny half page that is supposed to represent Dax and Astartea making love, which is represented by cavorting unicorns, a mermaid, etc. I think Dax is a dolt for breaking that censer. Why not stay with Astartea? It's not as if his life as a wandering barbarian is so hot.

One of the more effective sequences from "Deathfall"
Mr. Papillon waits in his jail cell to be hanged for murdering his unfaithful wife. He denies any last-minute treats and is hanged, then regains consciousness in a void, wondering if it's all a dream.

Ten pages of "Deathfall," Sanho Kim's experimental gobbledegook, shows that Kim was not afraid to take chances, but his skills as an artist don't match his ideas. The page layout is interesting, and certainly shows a heavy Eisner influence, but the concluding dialogue ends with a thud and the last page and a half consists of black panels and jagged word balloons. At least it's a quick read.

Howard Canelly is "The Prodigy Son," an exhibit in a freak show. He has a small twin growing backward out of his chest and it is displayed for the amusement and disgust of crowds. A beautiful woman named Brenda falls for Howard's handsome face and marries him, thinking the twin is just a carnival trick, but when she discovers it's real on their wedding night she is repelled. She soon begins to cheat on Howard, who catches her in the act and murders her lover. Unfortunately for Howard, his gruesome twin, Theodore, chooses that moment to eat his way out of Howard's body, leaving Howard dead and Theodore crawling toward Brenda, a look of love in his eyes!

"The Prodigy Son"
Yuck! Jose Bea really has a creepy way with these stories, doesn't he? I love a good freak show tale and Brenda is a dead ringer for Vampirella, so "The Prodigy Son" ticked all of my sick little boxes. For once, the final panel contains a satisfying horrible image. Oddly, a few panels had a Grandenetti look to them, including the final one.

Busy interring a fresh corpse in the small village cemetery of Middlemist, 18th century caretaker Elias Elger is frightened by a bat. His assistant, Hough Callicott, wonders why a man who has spent his life digging graves would be shaken by such a small thing, so Elger tells a tale. "Pity the Grave Digger!" As a younger man, the caretaker had to drive a stake through the heart of a vampire. Some time later, grave robbers broke in and unearthed the corpse of another vampire; Elger had to chase them off and then re-stake the fiend. But those experiences paled next to the worst of all, which happened when the caretaker found that hideous little somethings were devouring freshly buried corpses. Elger dynamited a crypt and nearly wiped out the tiny fiends, but two escaped in the form of bats and he's been wary of the flying rodents ever since. Three years pass and, one night, Hough hears a scream and rushes to the aid of his old mentor, only to find that bats are changing into tiny ghouls and consuming the body of the poor old man!

Whew! Why do the best stories so often show up in the back of the Warren mags, after pages and pages of ads for Prince Valiant reprints and 8 mm horror flicks? "Pity the Grave Digger!" may be only six pages long, but it packs a lot of Gothic horror into a short space. In an issue with standout illos by Ploog, Maroto, and Bea, I liked the graphics by Auraleon best of all. Maybe it's the setting, in an old cemetery, and maybe it's the way he draws vampires, old caretakers, and tiny ghouls, but I thought this story was the best of a darn good issue of Eerie!-Jack

"Pity the Grave Digger!"
Peter-Is "The Brain of Frankenstein" as dumb and convoluted a tale as you're likely to see? Yes. Is it enjoyable? Undoubtedly. Taking beats from the Universal series and adding mayhem and blood a la Hammer, "Brain" is a perfect bridging of the two generations. It's a grand horror epic that's guaranteed to make you smile, But, oh boy, those logic lapses. You've just murdered a man and transplanted your dead father's brain into the body, so what do you do? You tell everyone at a party. And how did Christian keep his father's brain alive when he had already been dead for some time? Why waste the time swapping brains? Just throw Hans's grey matter in the garbage. Ploog's work here is awesome and it would only get awesomer in another year or so when Marvel handed him the keys to The Monster of Frankenstein. It's a seamless jump.

The Targo tale is confusing until you read the box at the bottom of the splash that says something along the lines of "We have no idea how we're going to bring back Targo as anything but a giant monster so in the meantime, here's another adventure featuring Young Targo of the Pacific!" Call me a nut, but I enjoyed this chapter even more than the last. Sure, it's a semi-sorta Kid Namor strip, but there's a good reason for that. According to a piece published in Back Issue #118, Steve Skeates had taken plots he'd written for Aquaman and rebooted them for the first two Targo stories. That climax would make Mike Fleisher proud!

Maroto continues to illustrate Dax magnificently but provides a weak plot and a rushed climax that leaves a lot unanswered. What I find interesting is that Maroto makes his lead character flawed and impulsive; Astartea sure didn't ask the barbarian to bust her incense burner, did she? "Deathfall" reminds me of the 1950s coffee houses where beatniks would just mutter stream of consciousness babble. The art is ugly but I'll admit that Kim does have a flair for panel experimentation. "The Prodigy Son" is certainly Don Glut's most mature script for Warren (there are no boobies); there's a problematic finish (how did Theodore get so big so quickly and how much of his brother did he eat?), but "The Prodigy Son" could be compared favorably to the work of David Cronenberg. And no, I'm not drinking right now. "Pity the Grave Digger!" brings to close a strong issue of Eerie. Not sure what these little vampires are supposed to be ("d'oh, little vampires, you dolt," I can hear you say), but the story reeks of atmosphere and Auraleon is fast becoming one of Warren's prime artists.

Creepy #46 (July 1972)

"Cross of Blood" 
Story by Doug Moench
Art by Esteban Maroto

"Behold the Cybernite!" 
Story by Richard Margopoulos
Art by Tom Sutton

"On the Ninth Day of Satan" 
Story by Kevin Pagan
Art by Felix Mas

"I, Invisible" ★1/2
Story & Art by Jose Bea

"Spellbound" ★1/2
Story by Lynn Marron
Art by Luis Garcia

"Night Watch" ★1/2
Story by E.A. Fedory
Art by Jorge Galvez

"Friedhelm the Magnificent" ★1/2
Story by Greg Potter
Art by Richard Corben

"Cross of Blood"
Tovarr the vampire has lived and died five times and he loves to talk about it. But love has come to the blood-sucker in the form of a gorgeous wench named Lalena, who vows to bring him fresh blood and love him forever. Unfortunately, the maiden has a secret agenda and betrays Tovarr by smearing blood in the form of a cross on his door.

"Cross of Blood" comes weighed down by a typical Doug Moench script in that, at several points, it's hard to make heads or tails of what's going on. Who is Lalena and why does she betray him? And why does Tovarr insist that the blood cross on the wall is the sustenance that will keep him alive? I had to re-read the last page to make sure Lalena hadn't put his bottle of blood in the room behind the door but no... it still makes no sense. Then you throw in Moench's obvious love for flowery prose (Ironic that I should realize the true power of religion only after my death... God and Satan still waged awesome battle through pawn-like vessels of living and dead flesh...) and. half way through the story, I've given up the will to live. Maroto's artwork and his skilled manipulation of the panels at least makes "Cross of Blood" a visual delight.

"Behold the Cybernite!"
A space ship piloted by a Cybernite, a brain-like organism, heads for Earth on a reconnaissance mission but, just as the ship gets near our atmosphere, the pilot is ordered to conquer Earth instead. Seems that back on the Cybernite planet, a "power reactor has ruptured" and the only thing that can help is the vast mine of metals beneath the Earth's surface. The UFO is ordered to drop the dreaded Omega bomb (funny how every species in the galaxy has an Omega bomb) on a well-populated city and wait for Earth's surrender. Though the Cybernite is loath to destroy what seems to be a kindly civilization, it readies its missile when, out of the blue, the spaceship is thrown off course by a passing American space capsule. The Cybernite crashes in a junk yard and is compact into a little ball.

"The Ninth Day of Satan"
"Behold the Cybernite!" is goofy fun, certainly better than 90% of the science fiction that fell into Warren's offices, and Tom Sutton's art is appropriate for the dripping-brain alien. What I find amusing is that the downbeat ending actually overshadows what's to come next when the next wave of Cybernites attack Earth. This is Rich Margopoulos's first script for Warren; Rich would go on to script dozens more tales for the three titles, including two full issues of Edgar Allan Poe adaptations (in Creepy #69 and 70) and a strong presence in the Eerie series sweepstakes.

John Corben travels to the village of Weltham, looking for his love, Lesley, but what he finds is a town obsessed with Satan. He is greeted upon exiting his coach by a man named Cerberus (wink wink), who explains that Weltham is in the grip of terror, for tomorrow is "The Ninth Day of Satan," and legend has it the town will be reduced to ashes. Can John Corben get to the bottom of this devilish mess and save his beloved Lesley? It's a deadly dull Gothic that never seems to end and contains all sorts of cliches and flowery dialogue. I'm not enamored with the Felix Mas art in this story, either, so the whole thing is a waste of paper.

"I, Invisible"
Professor P. Miller of the University of Zurich works painfully long hours attempting to craft an invisibility formula. He's right on the brink of a breakthrough but needs a human guinea pig. Worrying the drug might actually be fatal, Miller injects himself with the serum and heads home to bed. The next morning, he awakens to discover he's almost see-through, but "the process didn't take effect over all (his body) at the same time!" In a panic, he heads back to the lab to take the antidote but all the excitement has exhausted him and he falls asleep on a dissecting table (never a good thing, even if you don't look like a sack of meat). Predictably, an intern comes in, complains about the mess, and tosses Miller in the incinerator.  "I, Invisible" is a fairly short tale of horror that adds nothing to the long, long history of "invisibility horror," but Bea's art is creepy and Miller's fate is a sad one, since he was just a decent guy who dabbled in things men should never dabble in. The only thing that really bothered me about Bea's art is that Miller continually changes appearance while he's semi-transparent; I'm not sure if that's intentional or not. Perhaps Bea was going for a snazzier look.

Delmar the Wanderer must infiltrate the castle of two old sorcerers in order to steal a magic box and take it back to his queen, who is under a spell that's left her an ugly old crone. Another issue, another stab at fantasy. More stilted dialogue, more adjective-stuffed sentences, and another confusing, meandering script. Luis Garcia does wonders with his pencils but, at times in "Spellbound," I can't figure out what the heck is going on.

A group of guys down at the old mill, working the "Night Watch," hunt and kill bats to stave off boredom. When one of the men enters a closed off room in the mill tower, he unwittingly walks into the den of a... vampire! "Night Watch" is a real dud, with an unfocused plot and dreadful writing ("From the look of his eyes, I'd say he died a frightening death!"); the art by Galvez is passable but his vampires are anything but frightening. They actually look more like old comedians.

"Friedhelm the Magnificent"
Thousands pay to see "Friedhelm the Magnificent" make his death-defying dives into solid ground and walk away unharmed. How does he do it? With the help of two fellow carnival workers who have nudged Friedhelm into signing a pact with Beelzebub. If the public only knew how selfish and cut-throat Friedhelm really was, his fame would dwindle. Now, on the eve of his end of the bargain coming due, Friedhelm tells the men they still owe him their promise of "the longest jump ever." Friedhelm climbs to the basket of a balloon hundreds of feet in the air and leaps. Amazingly, the ground opens before him as he falls and lands in the hands of Satan!

Corben is back at last! Anything the artist contributes graphics to becomes immediately more readable, even a half-baked devil's pact script like Greg Potter's "Friedhelm the Magnificent" (which borrows a bit from EC's "Dig That Cat... He's Real Gone!"). Friedhelm is the cliched sumbitch who loves no one but himself and uses and discards anyone he needs to advance his celebrity. But, oddly enough, like the lead character in the aforementioned "Dig That Cat...," he doesn't seem to be much of a businessman, despite the fact that it's mentioned that Friedhelm is "a super-star of international acclaim." Literally defying death with every leap, you'd think the guy would have his own TV specials (a la Evel Knievel) rather than living out of a carnival tent. Corben's at his best when he deals with ugly people and Friedhelm is one ugly dude. High forehead, a chin that would make Jay Leno proud, and steely eyes. Corben's climactic panel of Satan is a winner as well.-Peter

Jack-This is a below average issue of Creepy. I gave highest marks to "Cross of Blood" due to Maroto's art, but Moench's story is a compendium of vampire cliches that fizzles at the end. "Behold the Cybernite" is ironic and entertaining, but Sutton is looking more and more like an outlier as the Warren mags are taken over by artists from abroad. "On the Ninth Day of Satan" is awfully plodding for a story with such an intriguing premise, while "I, Invisible" seems like a showcase for Jose Bea's ability to depict human anatomy and includes unintentional humor. I like the density of the Mozos art in "Spellbound" but can't get interested in the story, while "Night Watch" makes me cry "enough vampires already!" I never thought I'd be missing werewolves. Corben's weirdness on "Friedhelm" is refreshing but his panels go back and forth between delightful and amateurish and the story's conclusion is dumb.

"Friedhelm the Magnificent"

Vampirella 17

Vampirella 17

Vampirella 17

Eerie 40

Eerie 40

Creepy 46

Creepy 46

Next Week...
The Kitsch Hits the Fan!

Thursday, June 18, 2020

The Hitchcock Project-Harold Swanton Part One: Premonition [1.2]

by Jack Seabrook

Harold Swanton was born in 1915 and began his career as a playwright; he won what was likely a small cash award from ASCAP and went on to write many radio plays. He also wrote film scripts from the late 1940s to the late 1960s and many teleplays from the early 1950s until 1980. He won an Edgar Award in 1958 for Best Episode in a TV Series for his script for "Mechanical Manhunt" on The Alcoa Hour, and he wrote eleven teleplays for the Hitchcock series, including "Anniversary Gift." He died in 1997 in Los Angeles.

*  *  *  *  *

John Forsythe as Kim Stanger
Swanton's first teleplay for Alfred Hitchcock Presents was "Premonition," the second episode of the series to be broadcast. It was directed by Robert Stevens, who would go on to direct a total of 49 episodes over the next ten years. This episode stars John Forsythe, who was also starring in Hitchcock's new film, The Trouble with Harry. That film opened on September 30, 1955, nine days before "Premonition" aired on CBS on Sunday, October 9, 1955. Hitchcock had chosen "Revenge" as the series premiere in order to promote Vera Miles; one may assume that "Premonition" followed in order to promote John Forsythe.

Warren Stevens as Perry Stanger
Harold Swanton's background in radio is evident from the first scene, which features an airplane flying and landing accompanied by voice over narration. The speaker is Kim Stanger, who explains that a sudden hunch led him to return home. A taxi driver drops him off and appears to know him, calling him by name; Stanger looks contentedly around his hometown of Stangerford (presumably named after his family), having just returned home after a four-year absence. He thinks that nothing has changed but he will soon learn that this is not the case.

An older man named Doug Irwin approaches Kim, who says that he has been studying music at the Sorbonne in Paris for two years after spending the two years before that in Rome. Carrying only a toothbrush, he has returned home due to homesickness and a desire to see his father, asking Irwin if the man still hates him. Doug recommends going to his office and phoning his family first, but Kim insists on going straight home.

Cloris Leachman as Susan Stanger
The narration resumes as Kim explains that he felt a premonition in Paris, a sense of dread that led him home. He enters the large family mansion and observes an enormous portrait of his father hanging above the fireplace, then takes a rifle down from a rack on the wall and examines it. Later, he sits down to play piano. His sister-in-law Susan (Doug Irwin's daughter) enters and seems nervous and surprised to see him. Kim complains that his father wants him to choose between family and music and he comments that the rifle is rusty, a detail his father would never have overlooked. He begins to refer to his father as Greg at this point, suggesting an unusual level of familiarity.

George MacReady as Doug Irwin
Kim's brother Perry enters; he is also Susan's husband and he breaks the news to Kim that his father died of a heart attack on the tennis court four years ago on October 10th. Kim complains that no one told him and he is unhappy to learn that his father changed his will and left everything to Perry; Kim is angry that Perry has not only inherited the family fortune but also married Susan, who had been Kim's girlfriend. Refusing Susan's offer of dinner, Kim prefers to be left alone. The voice over narration resumes as he finds a hunting license dated October 11th, four years before, in his father's handwriting and realizes that Greg could not have died on October 10th, as Perry claimed.

Percy Helton as Gerald Eaton
Kim visits Doug, who is a lawyer, at his office and confronts him with the discrepancy in dates. Doug explains that Perry was confused and that Greg actually died on October 12th. Kim presses for details of the hunting trip and demands to know who killed his father. He visits the offices of Ravenswood Memorial Park and interrogates Gerald Eaton, the undertaker, demanding that he open the family crypt to let Kim examine the body. Kim attacks Eaton, who admits that they held services over an empty coffin and that there's no body in his father's grave!

Perry walks in just as Eaton reveals that he was asked to send flowers to an address in Sheridan Falls, Maine. Kim knows the place and Perry asks him to come home instead of going to Maine. We next see Kim interviewing the Sheridan Falls coroner, Isaiah Dobbs, who Kim also threatens. Dobbs claims that Greg got sick during the hunting trip and was flown home on his private plane; he tells Kim that Greg, Doug, and Greg's son went into the woods but only Doug and the son came out.

Harry Tyler as Isaiah Dobbs
Kim next walks 13 miles along a trail to Tamarack Lake, where Greg was killed. Voice over narration continues, as Kim explains his thoughts and actions, finally reaching his father's cabin by the lake. As he explores the interior, Susan rushes in to say that she has been waiting for Kim since noon; Doug's plane is by the lake and she wants her brother-in-law to come home. Kim insists on knowing the truth and she finally reveals that he was not in Paris but rather in a hospital in Arizona. He was never in Europe and in fact ran away from the hospital to return home. After Greg died, Perry, Susan, and Doug fixed things to make it look like a natural death. They bribed the undertaker and Doug, the lawyer, helped with the death certificate.

No one else knows the truth, but it's worse than he thinks: Kim is the one who killed his father, due to an accident with his loaded rifle following an argument. Kim fell apart after that and he takes the news stoically, remarking that he had a premonition.

"Premonition" is a short film noir with Kim Stanger in the role of a detective investigating the mystery of his own father's death. He does not know it at first, though, since he is drawn back to his hometown by a hunch and believes his father is still alive. At first, he seeks his father. His family members react oddly, as if hiding the truth, and when he learns that his father is dead, he quickly realizes that their stories don't add up. He then changes his quest, from seeking to reconcile with his father to seeking the truth about the man's death.

A deep focus shot
Like a tough detective in a noir film, Stanger bullies people and threatens them to get the answers he seeks. After learning fragments of the truth from the undertaker, he must travel to find a misplaced clue in the woods of Maine, where he learns more from the coroner. The truth is finally revealed near the scene of the crime by a woman involved in the cover-up: Kim's former girlfriend, now his sister-in-law. He discovers that the killer he seeks is himself.

"Premonition" is a story of privilege and what money and power can buy. The Stangers are a rich family with a private plane, a mansion, and a hunting lodge--the town they live in is named Stangerford, so their family may have lived there long enough to have founded it. They have the money and power to hide and alter the truth of the death of an influential man and none of them seems troubled by this fact. Instead, their main concern seems to be to keep it quiet and to protect the killer, since he's one of the family.

Looking out from inside the fireplace
And what of non-family members? The working professionals in Stangerford and Sheridan Falls are there to be bribed and physically attacked. Susan admits that they bribed the undertaker and Kim physically assaults him and the coroner until they tell him what they know. Seen today, "Premonition" is an indictment of the behavior of the rich. Was Greg's death an accident? Kim remarks that he and his father clashed over Kim's desire to follow a non-traditional career path in music. His premonition led him to seek a truth that probably would have been better if it had remained hidden, at least from the perspective of the Stangers and the Irwins. In the end, the tale of Kim Stanger is one of social justice ignored and the law trampled on by a wealthy, privileged family determined to retain its influence at any cost.

This episode features fine acting by a great cast and solid direction by Robert Stevens, including two particularly interesting shots: the first, a deep focus shot in Doug's office where Doug is in the foreground and Kim is in the distance; the second, a shot near the end where the camera is positioned inside a fireplace in the cabin, looking out at a brooding Kim. Swanton's teleplay moves rapidly from start to finish, though it emphasizes the aural over the visual with its extensive use of voice over narration.

Paul Brinegar as the
taxi driver
Robert Stevens (1920-1989) directed 49 episodes of the Hitchcock series, winning an Emmy for "The Glass Eye."

John Forsythe (1918-2010) stars as Kim Stanger. He served in the Army Air Corps in World War Two and attended the Actors Studio; his career onscreen stretched from 1943 to 2003. He starred in Hitchcock's The Trouble with Harry (1955) and had a supporting role in Topaz (1969), but his most famous parts were on television, as the voice of Charlie in Charlie's Angels (1976-1981) and as the patriarch on Dynasty (1981-1989). He was in one other episode of the Hitchcock series: "I Saw the Whole Thing."

His sister-in-law Susan Irwin is played by Cloris Leachman (1926- ), who was Miss Chicago in the 1946 Miss America Pageant and who, like Forsythe, attended the Actors Studio. Her screen career began in 1947 and continues today; she has won eight prime time Emmy Awards and she won an Academy Award for The Last Picture Show (1971). She was seen on Alfred Hitchcock Presents three times, including "Where Beauty Lies," and she has appeared in numerous TV shows and films, including Thriller, The Twilight Zone, and Night Gallery. She was in Young Frankenstein (1974) and High Anxiety (1977), Mel Brooks's Hitchcock spoof, but she may be best-known for her role as Phyllis on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977) and its spinoff, Phyllis (1975-1977).

Warren Stevens (1919-2012) plays Perry Stanger; he was in the Air Force in World War Two and is the third cast member to have attended the Actors Studio. His career onscreen lasted from 1948 to 2007 and he appeared on the Hitchcock show one other time, in "Never Again." He was also on The Twilight Zone, Thriller, and The Outer Limits, as well as in the classic science fiction film, Forbidden Planet (1956).

In smaller roles:
  • George MacReady as Doug Irwin; he was on screen from 1942 to 1971, including a part in Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory (1957). He was in three episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, including "Vicious Circle," and he was seen on The Twilight Zone, Thriller, The Outer Limits, and Night Gallery.
  • Percy Helton (1984-1971) as Gerald Eaton, the funeral director; he was in vaudeville from age two and served in the Army in World War One. He damaged his voice permanently while yelling in a stage play and thus had a distinctively squeaky way of talking for much of his career. He was on screen from 1915 to 1978 and appeared in seven episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, including "The Creeper"; he was also in the classic episode of Bus Stop, "I Kiss Your Shadow," as well as on The Twilight Zone and Batman.
  • Harry Tyler (1888-1961) as Isaiah Dobbs; Tyler had many small roles on screen from 1929 to 1961 and appeared in 11 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, including "The Dangerous People."
  • Paul Brinegar (1917-1995) as the taxi driver who drops Kim Stanger off at the beginning of the episode; after serving  in the Navy in World War II, he had a long career playing small parts on screen from 1946 to 1994. He is best known as Wishbone, the cook on the TV series Rawhide (1959-1965), and can be seen in three episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, including "The Night the World Ended."
Watch "Premonition" for free here or buy the DVD here.

Grams, Martin, and Patrik Wikstrom. The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion. OTR Pub., 2001.
"Premonition." Alfred Hitchcock Presents, season 1, episode 2, CBS, 9 Oct. 1955.
Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation,

Listen to Al Sjoerdsma discuss "Premonition" on his podcast here.

Read The Pie Lady's hilarious take on "Premonition" here.

In two weeks: "Portrait of Jocelyn," starring Philip Abbott and Nancy Gates!