Night Gallery season 2 episode 6: A Question of Fear/The Devil Is Not Mocked

There are only two stories in this visit to Night Gallery and it’s the first episode where Rod Serling had nothing to do with the stories other than hosting. The first tale is decent but the second is expected.

In “A Question of Fear,” mercenary Colonel Dennis Malloy (Leslie Nielsen) laughs when Dr. Mazi (Fritz Weaver) discusses how dangerous a haunted house is. Mazi challenges him to stay overnight to make $10,000, which the eyepatched military man believes is easy money. The ending, however, with its discussion of transforming men into earthworms, elevates this from a basic scare to inspired weirdness. It’s also helped by Nielsen and Weaver’s performances.

It’s directed by Jack Laird and there, I actually said something kind about something that he did on Night Gallery. The script is by Theodore J. Flicker, the creator of Barney Miller and director of Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang. He based it on a story by Bryan Lewis.

If the exterior of the haunted house is familiar, it should be. It’s the Psycho house in Universal Studios.

“The Devil Is Not Mocked” finds SS General von Grunn (Helmut Dantine) meeting the owner of an Eastern European castle, a mysterious count (Francis Lederer) who may say that he’s the leader of a small resistance group but you know, doesn’t show up in mirrors.

Lederer played Dracula in The Return of Dracula, so it’s pretty much assumed he is who he is when you first meet him. There are no surprises, but this is fine. It’s not Rod Serling Night Gallery pitch blackness, however.

This was directed and written by Gene R. Kearney. It was based on a story by Manly Wade Wellman, whose story “Still Valley” was an episode of The Twilight Zone, “Rouse Him Not” on Monsters and the movie The Legend of Hillbilly John, which came from his book Who Fears the Devil?

Here’s hoping for Serling to make a return next week.

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