I'M SURE I'VE SAID THIS BEFORE BUT BORIS KARLOFF'S THRILLER IS ONE OF THE BEST HORROR TV SHOWS EVER MADE. Despite the fact that half of them are crime/mystery dramas. I couldn't possibly have a Halloween Countdown TV viewing without THRILLER. And the episode I've chosen today is one I don't tend to re-watch an awful lot: "THE HOLLOW WATCHER" broadcast February 12, 1962.
This episode has some problems; amongst them a certain degree of padding and a degree of patience is required from the viewer while waiting for the "monster" to appear on screen. As you can know doubt tell by the picture above, the "monster" is a scarecrow. Yes, I'm watching another "walking stalking scarecrow" episode in addition to SUPERNATURAL. So sue me. As you may also deduce from the picture above, the scarecrow's appearance is not quite as formidable as the one in the SUPERNATURAL episode. However, patience will be slightly rewarded by the last ten minutes of the programme. The rural North Carolina village of Black Hollow is haunted by "the Hollow Watcher"; a kind of ghostly vengeful spirit which apparently likes to take the form of a scarecrow and is always watching the townsfolk to punish them when they go astray. Such happens when Hugo Wheeler (Warren Oates) and his mail-order bride Meg (Audrey Dalton) are oppressed by Hugo's overbearing father Ortho (Denver Pyle). During a confrontation between father and son in which Hugo is beated senseless, Meg kills her father-in-law and stuffs his corpse inside a scarecrow in the nearby field. When Hugo awakens, she tells him Ortho ran off in shame after Hugo beat him up. Hugo, not too bright, accepts this story. Soon, Meg's brother Sean (Sean McClory) arrives for a visit. However, Sean and Meg are not siblings but lovers who have a racket going in which they marry someone and then murder them for their money. Will Hugo be killed by the conspiring lovers -- or will Meg be stalked to death by the "Hollow Watcher"?
As I've said, there's a lot of padding in this hour episode but the performances of all the actors makes it an enjoyable episode nonetheless. Audrey Dalton is a veteran of THRILLER and here gives a much MUCH better performance than her awful showing in William Castle's film MR. SARDONICUS. Likewise, Warren Oates gives his usual stellar performance. I'm not familiar with Sean McClory but his portrayal of the ultra-charming, beefy brawler from Old Ireland is quite convincing. And then there's the small cameo role provided by Denver Pyle (who you'll remember as Uncle Jessie from THE DUKES OF HAZARD, no doubt). The scarecrow himself is a little underwhelming at first with his smiling sack face not to scary in full close-up; however as the episode chugs along the scarecrow manages to become a little creepier until the final firey climax which ends up being genuinely creepy. Not the best of the THRILLERs but not the worst, either.