Posts Tagged ‘elva mai hoover’

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!


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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!


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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 #12: “Wind Chill”

Elva Mai Hoover

While "Wind Chill" this is not the first episode to feature actress Elva Mai Hoover (photo left), it is certainly one of the best she appeared in. Here she portrays a young woman lost in the snow, who's befriended by a mysterious young man that invites her to wait out the night at his parents' cabin not far away.

The characters Hoover plays in her 16 NIGHTFALL appearances range from the innocent young woman ("Wind Chill", "The Undertaker") to the devious witch ("The Blood Countess") and she does them all well. I've not heard a whole lot of her work outside of NIGHTFALL (a few episodes of Johnny Chase, Vanishing Point and one of Midnight Cab), but if you want to hear a real tour de force, check out her performance in the CBC Playhouse production of "The Sisters" by Silver Donald Cameron, with music by Stan Rogers. You can find it on the CD Poetic Justice, which it shares with the NIGHTFALL episode "Harris and the Mare", in which she also appeared. The CD is no longer in print, but it's very easy to find on eBay and, IIRC, on iTunes as well.

As to the title, there is some question as to whether it's "Windchill" or "Wind Chill", as both have been used at various times. If I remember correctly from my conversation with writer David McCaughna, he believed his original title had been "Wind Chill Factor", which was apparently changed before the episode was broadcast. I settled on "Wind Chill" as that is the title listed in the CBC Radio Broadcast Log for NIGHTFALL.

This is one of 30 or so episodes that made their way into the Durkin-Hayes Paperback Audio cassette series back in the 90s.


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Wind Chill

Air Date: 9/19/1980
Writer(s): David McCaughna
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Elva Mai Hoover, Robert Haley, Hadley Kay, Aileen Seaton
Commercial Synopsis: A city girl's car breaks down in the country in the dead of winter, and chilling events start to occur in the cabin of the mysterious young man who offers her a place to stay for the night.   (NPR)


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

Nightfall #7: “Future Fear”

"Future Fear" cassette design from Durkin-Hayes Paperback Audio

This third outing by John Graham is the first of a couple NIGHTFALL episodes with a theme of devices that seem to receive signals from the future and the consequences experienced by those who decide to misuse them.

This is also the earliest episode in the series, chronologically, to be featured as a cover title in the Durkin-Hayes Paperback Audio release of NIGHTFALL in the 1990s (image left). These tapes are no longer made, but you can often find them for sale cheaply on eBay.

The episode was also one of four featured on the only CD set to be officially released by the CBC, Nightfall, Volume 1. CBC no longer sells this set, but it can be found occasionally for sale on-line.

"Future Fear" is an episodes you see on a lot of people's list of favorites because it's one of those tales that defines NIGHTFALL's style.


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Future Fear

Air Date: 8/15/1980
Writer(s): John Graham
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Frank Perry, Aileen Seaton, Neil Munro, Jeannie Elias, John Stocker, Elva Mai Hoover
Commercial Synopsis: A couple sees limitless opportunities for wealth and happiness when their television begins to show them the future. Their anticipation shortly turns to sickening horror and a terrible resolve when the visions of the future turn hideous and bloody.  (DHPA)


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

Nightfall #3: “Welcome to Homerville”

Neil DainardArguably the best episode of the entire series, "Welcome to Homerville" was nominated for a 1980 ACTRA Award for best writing. On more than one occasion during my research, I ran into someone who remembered hearing this episode when it originally aired, or during one its runs on NPR Playhouse, and being scared to death by it. The secret is: don't listen to it while driving at night!

"Welcome to Homerville" was the first episode of the series to be recorded (in the studio March 20th & 21st, 1980) and was probably used as a demo for Susan Rubes and the other higher-ups at CBC Radio, though I don't know this for certain.

For the cast, producer Bill Howell turned to some of the actors he worked with frequently, including Neil Dainard (photo left), Elva Mai Hoover and John Stocker, all of whom appeared in Howell's highly-successful sci-fi series, Johnny Chase: Secret Agent of Space, among his other projects. (There's another show that the world is sadly missing out on while the recordings languish in the CBC Archive).

The thing that first set me on edge when I first heard this episode was the flute. Just before the voice's first appearance on the radio, there comes a low flute motif. It's job is to telegraph to the listener that something ominous is about to happen, and oh yeah, it does that very well. But even then, you're just not expecting what comes next. As someone who is not fond of driving at night as it is, this episode just amplified my fear ten times. I'm serious when I say don't listen to it while driving at night. Especially on a lonely stretch of road or highway!

("Welcome to Homerville" was the inspiration for my radio drama troupe's (The Post-Meridian Radio Players) 2010 Halloween play "The Sirens of War", in which the crew of a barge transporting Naval munitions along the Missouri River during WWII is haunted by a voice on their radio.).


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Welcome to Homerville

Air Date: 7/18/1980
Writer(s): Don Dickinson & Allan Guttman
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Neil Dainard, James D. (Jimmy) Morris, John Stocker, Frank Perry, Robert Christie, Corinne Langston, Marian Waldman, Elva Mai Hoover, Ron Hartman, Arch McDonnell, Budd Knapp, Gordon Thomson, Lynne Deragon
Commercial Synopsis: A trucker, traveling a lonely highway, hears a mysterious female on his radio who says she is waiting for him in Homerville. Unnerved, he tells his CB buddies who warn him not to go there because danger lies ahead. But the seductive voice keeps luring him on.  (NPR)


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

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