My countdown of TV’s Top 5 scariest shows of all time continues in celebration of the spookiest day of the year—Halloween. So far, I’ve ranked #5 ‘The Outer Limits’ and #4 ‘Tales From the Darkside’. Flint area Halloween/horror genre enthusiast, David Hamilton, has graciously (or should I say ghoulishly?) added his input about each of my chosen series. Today marks my number 3 pick, en route to my choice for the number 1 Scariest TV Show of All Time.
Without further hesitation I humbly submit:
#3 ‘Night Gallery’– This horror anthology series was created and hosted by ‘Twilight Zone’s’ creator/narrator, Rod Serling. It ran on NBC from 1970-1973.
The show aired late at night and opened with Serling standing in a shadowy art gallery surrounded by weird paintings. He would unveil the painting (often gruesome) that depicted the story that was about to be told. Lots of the stories were based on short stories by varied authors, like H.P. Lovecraft and Hal Dresner. Serling also wrote several original episodes himself.
Local horror buff David Hamilton said, ‘Night Gallery set you up for something twisted with those grotesque paintings before the story. It evolved from ‘Twilight Zone’ and had the same classic, eerie tone. I remember hiding under a sleeping bag on my living room floor watching Night Gallery. For whatever reason the images in the paintings burned in my mind long after the story was done.’
The paintings were the clever hook and twist to the series that set it apart from ‘Twilight Zone’. Highly decorated Oscar winning director Steven Spielberg directed a 1971 episode called ‘Make Me Laugh’ that starred TV legend Tom Bosley.
The list of other Hollywood Legend actors/actresses who guested on ‘Night Gallery’ is extensive and includes: Phyllis Diller, Broderick Crawford, Bill Bixby, Cloris Leachman, David Carradine, Adam West, Cesar Romero and horror master Vincent Price.
The show did receive an Emmy Nomination in 1971 for Outstanding Single Program on US Television. However, the series was criticized later for its choppy format between segments.
But for cult followers and horror/fantasy enthusiasts ‘Night Gallery’ is an unforgettable classic.
The road is getting shorter to the #1 Scariest TV Show of All Time. Care to venture any guesses? Feel free to drop me a comment below.
Meanwhile, be sure to check back tomorrow for my #2 pick, or subscribe to my column to receive the article via email.
Check Best Buy in Flint for ‘Night Gallery’ DVD Box Sets. Click here for a store locator.