Original Transmission Date: 21/02/1973
History tends to be written by the winners, and as a result the landscape of 1970’s horror strains under a stifling orthodoxy. A prevailing critical consensus (partly attributable to academia as well as fan worship) that propels names like Argento, Craven, Romero, Hooper, Cronenberg and Carpenter into the forefront at the expense of others doing equally important work in the genre. One such man whose contribution to the typography of the genre in the 1970’s remains criminally underrated is Dan Curtis. The problem is that Curtis spent the majority of his career working (either as a writer, producer, or director) in the restricted confines of television. If you want a simple index of how culturally insignificant American television was considered in comparison to American cinema in the 1970’s look no further than Dan Curtis. Curtis is now most recognised for his cult television series Dark Shadows (1966-1971) and his three TV movies The Night Stalker (1972), The Night Strangler (1973) and Trilogy of Terror (1975). His only directorial credit on the big screen was the indifferent Burnt Offerings (1976) which was more of a showcase for the histrionics of Oliver Reed and Karen Black than it was for Curtis’ direction. However when one delves deeper into the filmography of Mr. Curtis one is surprised by the number of hugely entertaining and generically progressive TV movies he worked on. One such example is the very enjoyable The Norliss Tapes.
© Shaun Anderson 2011