Tales of the Haunted: 'Evil Stalks This House' was one of those stumbled-upon movies I caught when I was "younger man geek," and I remember that it was on CBS late night (where I was also first introduced to Kolchak, The Night Stalker). Late-night local network affiliates and local television stations were usually a treasure trove of low-budget and old British horror (granted, they were edited — but not always as much as you'd think they'd be) that I could never get enough of as a kid.
Okay — before I get any more distracted, a little background. Tales of the Haunted was the name of a proposed late night horror anthology for CBS where a new story would be told over the course of five half-hour episodes; and then the network could edit them together into a two-hour telefilm.
Written by Louis M. Heyward and directed by Gordon Hessler, Tales of the Haunted: 'Evil Stalks This House' starred Jack Palance (City Slickers) as a man travelling with his two children who is forced to take refuge in an old home shared by two elderly women (Helen Hughes and Frances Hyland) after their car breaks down during a storm. When he decides to steal the women's valuables, he finds himself confronted with forces outside of this world. And they're not happy.
While I'll admit that I wasn't able to catch it when it was first broadcast over five episodes (and with each episode hosted by horror legend Christopher Lee), I was able to catch the edited version that aired on The CBS Late Movie. To this day, I still remember it as a batcrap-crazy mix of cults, kids, and con men.
This movie taught me two very important things: quarters made in the first-half of the 20th century contained a lot of silver (it's important); and Palance would've made a killing as an actor in today's horror film market. An upside that could've been a downside? It has all the cinematic trappings of a handheld camcorder in the early 1980s; but for the sake of this story, it really seems to work.
A BC October: Tales From Terror-Vision! is Bleeding Cool's month-long look back at some lost or forgotten scary moments from the history of television.