VINCENT PRICE MEETS F TROOP! Last year on the Countdown to Halloween, I altered my usual habit of watching a scary movie a day to watching a spooky TV episode a day. Well, while I'm not doing that this year, I'm still going to post when I watch something new. Today it's the "Halloweeny-type" episode of the Civil War sitcom "F TROOP" entitled "V IS FOR VAMPIRE". Venerable Vincent Price guest stars as Count Sforza from Transylvania who breezes in (on a beautiful horse-drawn hearse) to take up residence in the spooky old haunted house nearby. Price is decked out in full Lugosi gear including red-lined cape, vampire medallion, white gloves, slick black hair (a wig) and white pancake makeup! On his arm is a raven whom the Count refers to as his "brother" and he always greets people with his Lugosi-inflected "Good eeeee-ven-eeeeeeng" -- even if it's afternoon. Jane (Melody Patterson) takes the Count's sales order for a lot of "odd" items including nails and black crepe which she takes off in order to deliver to the haunted house. Meanwhile, the strange Count longingly stares at Corporal Agarn's (Larry Storch) neck commenting that he has a scratch on his throat. On a visit to the local Hekawi tribe, Chief Wild Eagle (Frank DeKova) takes one look at Vinnie's pancake makeup and says "Now that's what I call a paleface!" Now, of course, we all know how the Hekawi tribe got their name: when the pilgrims "ruined the neighbourhood" and the tribe traveled west over rocks and across streams they got lost and fell over a cliff. One of the tribe said "Where the heck are we" which morphed into the tribe's new name: "We're the Hekawi". Amusingly, when F TROOP's showrunners were developing the programme, the tribe was going to be called "Fugawi" but the censors vetoed it. Too much for sixties family hour, I suppose.
Jane seemingly disappears and Sgt. O'Rourke (Forrest Tucker), Corporal Agarn (Larry Storch) and Captain Parmeter (Ken Berry) sneak into the haunted house to rescue her from "the vampire". The usual slapstick haunted house clichés ensue from revolving secret panels to the mistaken impression that Captain Parmeter has been turned into a chicken. This era of American sitcoms (1967) will no doubt lead you to know immediately what to expect from the episode and it certainly gives no surprises. Vincent Price is given surprisingly little to do in the episode; he's asleep on a bed for the majority of the "slapstick roaming-around-the-haunted-house" middle portion of the show. However, Price looks like he's enjoying himself and it's always good to see him. And really, where else are you going to see him in full Dracula gear?!?