Archive for November, 2011

Nightfall #22: “Deadly Developments”

Gordon ThomsonAh, another one of my favorite episodes! It joins the ranks of several other episodes about "cursed objects" and was the first to be written by a woman.

John Stocker and Gordon Thomson (photo left) – starring together on NIGHTFALL for the first time since "How Did You Get My Name?" (#8) – respectively play professional photographer André Phillipe and his assistant, Steve Balfourt, who are preparing a photo shoot for the cover of an upcoming horror novel. During the session, André decides to try out his newly-acquired Von Hensdorf, an extremely rare camera made in pre-war Germany, known for the stark quality of its photos. Very quickly, the shoot turns into a terrifying experience for the three women sent by the modeling agency, who are overwhelmed by the sense of a malevolent presence in the studio. The next day, two police officers arrive at the studio and begin asking questions about three separate incidents that occurred the afternoon before. At roughly the same time, André realizes, that the Von Hensdorf photos were being developed…

The playwright on this episode is something of a mystery. Arlene Ezrin is one of the few writers I haven't been able to track down or to account for as deceased. The only Arlene Ezrin I can find any reference to on-line is the wife of Canadian music producer Bob Ezrin (known for his work with such talents as Alice Cooper, Kiss and Pink Floyd), but so little is to be found about her as to be non-existent. They did, however, live in Toronto, so it's quite possible this is the same person.

Historical Note: The original CBC Radio broadcast of this episode (as well as the version you are listening to here) has an opening scene in Paul Gemmel's pawn shop, in which André purchases the Von Hensdorf camera. However, the oft-circulated copy of this episode is from its run on NPR Playhouse  in 1981, which did not include the scene. Correspondence between the producer of NPR Playhouse and Bill Howell indicates that, due to time constraints, episodes had to be limited to 29 minutes or less in length, so it is likely that Bill Howell excised the scene from the version he sent to NPR to keep it under time. This is only a theory, though, and has not been confirmed.


Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Deadly Developments

Air Date: 11/28/8
Writer(s): Arlene Ezrin
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: John Stocker, Gordon Thomson, Budd Knapp, Sandy Webster, Linda Sorenson, Elva Mai Hoover, Nicky Guadagni, Colin Fox, Arch McDonnell
Commercial Synopsis: The discovery of a mysterious old German camera starts a bizarre series of events in this contemporary story focusing on the world of fashion photography.


If you like what you hear, please contact the CBC Shop and encourage them to release the series!

Nightfall #21: “The Blood Countess, Pt. 2: Blood Blue”

The Blood Countess - Durkin-Hayes Paperback Audio cover(This is my blog entry about the second episode of "The Blood Countess". You may read about, and listen to, Part 1 here.)

This is our continuation of the story – based on historical records and legends – of Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed (Báthory Erzsébet), the so-called Blood Countess of Hungary. The episode was written by playwright Raymond Canale (his only one for NIGHTFALL) and featured veteran stage and screen actress Kate Reid as Countess Báthory.

The additional cast for the episode reads like a Who's Who of NIGHTFALL actors: Ruth Springford as Dorattya Semtész, Elizabeth's life-long housekeeper, who unwillingly assists in her Lady's madness. Elva Mai Hoover as Darvulia, a local witch who serves the Countess with her efforts to make contact with her dead husband's spirit. Neil Munro as Paul Báthory, Elizabeth's cousin and First Minister to the King of Hungary. And many more.

In the second half of the story, the Countess and Darvulia have been trying for several years now to contact the spirit of the deceased Count Báthory using horrific rituals involving the sacrifice of young peasant girls. But after the dramatic and terrifying failure of a particularly promising ritual, the Countess finally snaps and comes to the realization that they've been making the wrong sacrifices and that only the blood of noble girls will be enough to induce her husband's spirit to break through the veil between this life and the life beyond. Dorattya is horrified at her mistress' plan to start by sacrificing her youngest Lady-in-Waiting, a daughter of a prominent Duke. Eventually, disturbing rumors spread throughout the country, to the point where the Countess' cousin Paul, a minister to the King, visits the village to discover the truth for himself and is given orders – approved by the Royal Parliament and signed by the King – to arrest Elizabeth and everyone involved in these horrible acts. The resolution to the trial – and to the story – I will leave for you to discover.

One interesting side note to these episodes: former Head of CBC Radio, Susan Rubes, told me in a phone interview in 2004 that she felt the experiment with doing a two-part story was a failure. She didn't give me any details as to why, however, though I'd love to see the inter-office memos regarding that!

A word of warning: this episode is very disturbing. Listener discretion is advised!


Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The Blood Countess, Pt. 2: Blood Blue

Air Date: 11/21/80
Writer(s): Ray Canale (based on the life and legend of Countess Elizabeth Bathory)
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Kate Reid, Neil Munro, Douglas Campbell, Ruth Springford, Elva Mai Hoover, Colin Fox, John Stocker, Nicky Guadagni
Commercial Synopsis: The most horrifying vampire of all. The most depraved ritual ever. A Transylvanian countess who bathed in the blood of virgins to keep herself young. She lived… and her name was Elizabeth Bathory.  (DHPA)


If you like what you hear, please contact the CBC Shop and encourage them to release the series!

Nightfall #20: “The Blood Countess, Pt. 1: Blood Red”

Kate ReidWell, what can I say about this episode? It's the only two-parter in the entire run of the series and boy does it take advantage of the extra length!

This is the story – based on historical records and legends – of Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed (Báthory Erzsébet), the so-called Blood Countess of Hungary. The episode was written by playwright Ray Canale (his only one for NIGHTFALL) and featured veteran stage and screen actress Kate Reid (photo left) as Countess Báthory.

Canale said to me, in a 2004 telephone interview, that he had written the story with Kate Reid in mind, but was told that it would be impossible to get her. Undaunted, he drove to her Toronto home one night and left the script on her doorstep. After reading it, she contacted Bill Howell and asked to play the part. Apparently she loved the script and the opportunity to play such an infamous character.

The cast for the episode reads like a Who's Who of NIGHTFALL actors: Alan Scarfe as the husband, Count Ferencz Báthory, whose death is the impetus for his wife's heinous crimes. Ruth Springford as Dorattya Semtész, Elizabeth's life-long housekeeper, who unwillingly assists in her Lady's madness. Elva Mai Hoover as Darvulia, a local witch who serves the Countess with her efforts to make contact with her dead husband's spirit. And many more.

In this, the first part of the story, we see the Countess' madness begin to take shape after her husband is killed in battle. She has young girls brought to the castle as servants, only to have them slaughtered and their blood used in rituals designed to break the barrier between this world and the next and allow the Countess to speak with her husband. After which, she bathes in their blood to soften her skin and retain her youth. Suspicion in the village below the castle grows as more and more young women disappear from the countryside. But the local Magistrate turns a deaf ear to the peasantry, aware of his position and his duty to the Countess.

Probably the most disturbing sequence in the story – and whether this is based on fact or legend I don't know – is a mechanical girl created by a clockmaker friend of Dorattya's. On the surface, the device seems merely like an amusement for her Highness: a life-like young woman that can stand and move her arms, as if to embrace a person. But when a servant girl thought dead is returned to the castle by the Magistrate's order, she has Dorattya demonstrate the device's true purpose…

A word of warning: this episode, while not as gruesome as "The Repossession", is still very disturbing. Listener discretion is advised!


Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The Blood Countess, Pt. 1: Blood Red

Air Date: 11/14/80
Writer(s): Ray Canale (based on the life and legend of Countess Elizabeth Bathory)
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Kate Reid, Ruth Springford, Elva Mai Hoover, Alan Scarfe, Robert Christie, John Stocker, Frank Perry, Hugh Webster, Mary Pirie, Nicky Guadagni
Commercial Synopsis: The most horrifying vampire of all. The most depraved ritual ever. A Transylvanian countess who bathed in the blood of virgins to keep herself young. She lived… and her name was Elizabeth Bathory.  (DHPA)


If you like what you hear, please contact the CBC Shop and encourage them to release the series!

Nightfall #19: “The Devil’s Backbone”

Silver Donald CameronIt makes sense that pretty much every NIGHTFALL episode that takes place in or around Halifax, Nova Scotia has to do with the sea, and for those who find the sea a bit frightening, this story won't help at all.

"The Devil's Backbone" – one of the earliest episodes I can remember listening to – was penned by prolific and highly-respected Canadian author Silver Donald Cameron (photo left). Mr. Cameron was one of my earliest contacts. A very pleasant person, he was quite happy to indulge my questions and I was quite happy to listen to his answers. I have an e-mail interview with him from 2003 that I hope to write up for the full-length entry on this episode. Cameron has written much about the Maritimes, the sea and environmental issues. One of his most prestigious plays was The Sisters, written for CBC Playhouse, with music by the late Stan Rogers.

Paul Mills – this was the third of the three plays he produced for the series – had an interesting story about the post-production on this episode. It seems that he and sound effects artist Bill Robinson created all the underwater effects using a barrel of water, a couple of vuvuzelas and some condoms. As I recall (I have a recorded phone interview with Paul that I need to transcribe), sports horns (not exactly vuvuzelas, I gather, but the principle is the same) were recorded underwater to produce the cries of the monster, as well as to provide bubble effects for the scuba divers. The condoms, as I understand it, were used to protect the microphones while submerged, as well as providing a resonating surface for the horns. I am so looking forward to having an excuse to reproducer this effect myself some day.

The cast features four now-recurring NIGHTFALL actors: Neil Dainard, Neil Munro, Linda Sorenson and Hugh Webster.


Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The Devil's Backbone

Air Date: 11/7/80
Writer(s): Silver Donald Cameron
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Paul Mills
Featuring: Neil Munro, Linda Sorenson, Neil Dainard, Hugh Webster
Commercial Synopsis: Beneath the fog and the gray-blue waves lies a field of gold ingots-guarded by something huge, dark and deadly. A few people are willing to risk it.  (DHPA)


If you like what you hear, please contact the CBC Shop and encourage them to release the series!

Calendar
November 2011
S M T W T F S
« Oct   Dec »
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930  
Pages
  • Welcome…to the Edge!
  • Blog
Categories