Ghost Story episode 13: “Time of Terror” (1972)

The last episode under the Ghost Story title, as well as the last appearance of Sebastian Cabot hosting as Winston Essex, “Time of Terror” is one of the darkest episodes in the series, based on Elizabeth Walter’s short story “Traveling Companion” and written by Jimmy Sangster.

Patricia Neal, who was in another Ghost Story, is Ellen Alexander. She has finally convinced her husband to take time away from his work and take her on vacation, but nearly as soon as they check in to a casino hotel, his bags are packed and he’s moved to another room. She can no longer find him and is horrified to discover a lottery in the main room where couples are tearfully split up forever when their numbers are called.

Beyond Neal, who is perfect in this, Craig Stevens is hotel manager, full of calm in the face of telling people the inevitable. He’s usually remembered for playing Peter Gunn, but he’s quite good here in a different role. Alice Ghostley plays a domineering woman who is struck down by the game, wondering why they planned and dreamed so much when her husband’s number is called. It was also great to see Lynn Hamilton, who was so good as Fred Sanford’s love interest Donna.

Director Robert Day started his career in England before coming to America, where he mainly worked in television. That said, his directed work is more memorable than many of his contemporaries thanks to his solid guidance of movies like Ritual of EvilThe Initiation of Sarah and Scruples.

This episode has stayed with me longer than any of the others in the series. If you’re going to pick just one of these to watch — or want to know which episode to start with — this would be it.

You can watch this on YouTube.

Note: Thanks to Bruce Kimmel for his notes on this, which were adjusted in the copy above.

5 thoughts on “Ghost Story episode 13: “Time of Terror” (1972)

  1. No, this was not the final episode under Circle of Fear, it was the final episode under the Ghost Story title, which then changed to Circle of Fear. Richard Matheson was a script consultant on the show and had nothing to do with the writing of this episode, which is all Jimmy Sangster, whose name is on the script. The title on the script is Traveling Companion. This was Miss Neal’s first post-stroke performance and she was very nervous but did a wonderful job.

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      • There’s so little information about this show so it’s difficult to know what’s what. I just corrected several things on the imdb page, too. They had it being shot in Burbank for the interiors, but those were shot at the Columbia Gower studios in Hollywood. And the scenes where Patricia Neal is walking around by the pool were shot at the Sportsman’s Lodge in Studio City.

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