October’s creepy flicks continue with tonight’s entry. In 1973 British screenwriter Brian Clemens created an anthology series for the BBC. THRILLER (not to be mixed up with the American series by the same name starring Boris Karloff). Each feature length episode was a stand alone story with their own cast. The only unifying factor was that they were thrillers, designed to send chills up your spine.
LADY KILLER (released in the U.S. as DEATH POLICY) was the premiere episode. It starts out at an English vacation hotel where meek American librarian Jenny is on holiday alone. Suave Paul sets his sights on her immediately. This would be the start of your standard romance if the audience wasn’t privy to Paul’s scheming. He snuck into her room and snooped through her suitcase and passport. He used that information to seduce the meek Jenny, all the while reporting his activities to an unknown person over a pay phone. Within days Paul and Jenny are married and living in his remote estate. For a brief moment it seems Jenny has fallen into the perfect relationship with the perfect man. It didn’t take long for her to be reminded that nothing in the world is perfect. The first sign was when Paul got very anxious when she hired a cleaning lady to come in three times a week. Then there was his uncontrolled rage when she changed her hairstyle. Then Jenny hears rumors about Paul’s first wife…who died under mysterious circumstances…who looked just like her.
Brian Clemens had previously been a head writer for THE AVENGERS series. That alone should prove his chops as a storyteller (as long as we ignore his also being responsible for the HIGHLANDER 2: THE QUICKENING). LADY KILLER has similar twists and turns as THE AVENGERS which keeps the audience wondering. The actress playing Jenny looked so familiar but I could not place the face. It was Barbara Feldon, known to American audiences as “Agent 99” in the GET SMART series. She fell so deep into this very different character that she was unrecognizable to me. Robert Powell of JESUS OF NAZARETH (1977) was deliciously devious in the most subtle way as Paul. Even THE AVENGERS alumni Linda Thorson makes a surprise appearance.
Question of the night: what’s your favorite place to go on vacation?