Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hidden Horrors: The Veil

By Brian M. Sammons

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Hidden Horror due to a few reasons. One being that I’m busier now than ever before, and the other that I just ran out of really cool things to write about. But if you’re new to THE BLACK GLOVE you may be asking just what is a Hidden Horror? Well that’s when I run across something that a good chunk of horror fans may not know about, so I want to throw a spotlight on it so more people know about it, and this time I have a textbook example of one. How about a TV show staring horror icon Boris Karloff that never really existed? Yep, that’s THE VEIL and that’s my subject today.

THE VEIL was a horror/mystery anthology show shot in 1958 in the vein of the much better known, and just simply all around better, THE TWILIGHT ZONE. With Boris Karloff not only doing the Rod Serling job and introducing every one of the initial ten episodes, but staring in nine of them as various supporting characters. Yet with all that going for it, it was never picked up by any studio and never aired. How does that happen? I mean just having Karloff attached to it should have at least assured a temporary run to see if it took off, right? Wrong. A number of problems with the production studio that eventually caused it to close, combined with some question about the rights to one of the episodes, the one not staring Boris Karloff called “Jack the Ripper”, meant that THE VEIL never got picked up and just sat in a vault somewhere for years.

Three cheers then for Echo Bridge Entertainment who gathered the 10 episodes (although some rumors say there was/is actually twelve episodes) in a two DVD set called, simply enough, THE VEIL. But was the show actually any good, or is there a good reason it has remained “lost” for so long? Well let’s find out.

The show was called THE VEIL because it was supposed to show you what lies behind the veil of reality. Each episode was allegedly based upon real-life reports of the supernatural and the unexplained. Well that “this really happened” angle might be the reason that each episode is sadly pretty boring or some riff on a spooky story you’ve heard hundred times before. There’s the one about the guy who gets a psychic vision of who really killed his brother, although he wishes he hadn’t, there’s the one where a guy who sees a murder that hadn’t actually happened yet (yeah, psychic visions get a lot of play here), there’s even the god only knows how old legend of the ghost by the side of the road, and so many more stories that, while serviceable, fail to thrill or horrify in any way. Now my initial thought was, “maybe people were just easier to scare or entertain back in the 50s”, but when you stop to consider THE TWILIGHT ZONE, which was made around that same time and is one of the best television shows ever, that hypothesis doesn’t hold water. I think the sad truth is that the stories used for THE VEIL just aren’t all that good or original. Karloff, as always, is wonderful in them, so there is that, I guess. All the other actors do a good job, for the most part, but there wasn’t a single story out of the ten that really grabbed me in any way.

(From episode: Vision of Crime)

THE VEIL is sadly not the all but forgotten hidden gem I had hoped it would be. If you’re a Karloff collector or a horrorhead historian you might want to get this little piece of long lost TV history for those reasons alone. If you don’t fall into those two camps, then you may want to pass on this as it offers nothing how. However, for those that want to check out THE VEIL for themselves, you can order the DVDs, and thankfully for cheap, here: Echo Bridge Entertainment

And below is one of a few episodes of THE VEIL that can be found on YouTube--Destination Nightmare:

--Brian M. Sammons