Thursday, January 26, 2012

Episode 16: Demon in Lace

Episode 16: Demon in Lace
Original Airdate: 2/7/75
Guest Starring: Keenan Wynn, Andrew Pine
and Teddie Blue as The Demon
Written by Stephen Lord & Michael Kozoll and David Chase
Directed by Don Weis

A succubus is working her way through hunks and babes on a college campus. With the help of a college reporter, it's up to Kolchak to stop the Sumerian demon.

PE: Every man's nightmare! A few too many drinks and you'll end up in the sack with just about anything. Take my word for it. I live in Arizona where the local pick-up line is "Hey, nice tooth!" And the gruesome make-up almost looks like our Demon has a tongue hanging out of her mouth. I've even had those lines used on me: "I want to touch your face. I've seen it so many times. I just want to convince myself that I'm really here." Usually the only thing I see after that is the badge.

JS: While the succubus is sufficiently scary looking, her appearances are too few and far between in the episode for my tastes.

PE: Did college jocks really dress this effeminately in 1975? If so, they certainly got what they deserved. I really wanted to see "that look on their face," the look of terror the cops keep describing on the faces of the corpses. What does a person look like when they've "died of fear?" The eyes have to be open, right? How about the mouth? Lips pulled back as if to scream? We don't even get a description here. Just "Well, chief, you can tell by that look on his face how he died." Bunk.

JS: I think it would have been very effective to see at least one victim with a face frozen in fear. In fact, if we saw that as the indication that someone was the victim of the succubus, I would have been content with the few early glimpses we do get of the demon.

PE: Interesting credit: "and Carolyn Jones as Registrar." You'd think if they're going to honor Jones' obvious contract stipulation they'd at least give her a name. Her credit is actually longer than her screen time.

JS: You know you're in trouble when a superior performance of a guest star can be found in an episode of Batman.

PE: Jackie Vernon is the latest victim of "Cameo Comedian." I don't have a problem with the short shrift given Vernon though as his somnambulist schlub routine, done so much better by Rodney Dangerfield, never lit my rockets.

JS: Speaking of sleepwalking, if you had told me that Milton Parsons (as Dr. Salem Mozart) died mid-take, I would have believed it. I must admit that I found his conversation with Kolchak quite entertaining, particularly when Carl agrees to subscribe to Handgun Review to give to Miss Emily.

PE: No, that's not John Holmes in the role of Archaeology Professor Spate, it's genre vet Andrew Prine. What made you think of porn was the mustache, sausage-squeezing bell-bottoms borrowed from Robert Plant, tacky neck-wear, and gold chain Prine wears with his khakis. What, no pith helmet? Those pants, by the way, are in no way complimentary. After hundreds of TV appearances (Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Combat, Ironside, Dr. Kildare, etc.) Prine settled into a stream of low-budget horror films including Simon, King of the Witches, Crypt of the Living Dead, The Town That Dreaded Sundown, Grizzly, The Evil, before heading back to TV for a second successful run. (including an appearance on CSI in 2005). He's got one great scene here, obviously the one with McGavin, where Carl is trying to bullshit his way into the Professor's confidence. The reporter stumbles when he opines that some of the hieroglyphs on the ancient tablet might be a recipe for Lamb with Mint Sauce. Prine has a fabulous WTF? moment before falling in with Kolchak's inanities to find out where this is going. The funniest thing about this sequence is that this really smart professor could not see through Kolchak's ruse for quite a while.

JS: Another favorite bit of mine comes when Kolchak pockets a security guard's badge, only to prick himself on it.

PE: LOL-dialogue when Tony informs the newsroom that, from here on out, all stories will have an upbeat theme, just as Carl, reading from an old text, exclaims "Ah, Asmodeus, the Prince of Fiends!"
Tony: How is the Prince of Fiends going to fit into my new directive?
Carl then tells Tony about the translating of the sinister ancient tablet, to which Tony barks:
Tony: Carl, I don't care what the ancient tablet is, whether it's an ancient guest record at the Ebenezer Motel... or what...
Carl: Ebekenezer!
JS: I know that I'm going to take heat for this, but I was underwhelmed by Keenan Wynn's performance this time out. Whereas his first appearance as Siska in "Spanish Moss Murders" was a standout, I felt that he reverted to being the cliché police captain here. And now for your rebuttal.

PE: My rebuttal is that you're insane. I'd like to know the reasoning behind the rotating Captain policy on this show. I ask because it strikes me that Keenan Wynn is so good in this role (as was William Daniels, for that matter) that the producers should have just hired him as a regular. He couldn't have had an unreachable fee at this stage of his career. He's got all the components down perfectly and knows which one to bring out at the right time. He's got that Tony Vincenzo-esque KOLCHAK! bellow, he can converse in an even tone, and he can convey a no-nonsense attitude as well. Was there a thought process going in to this show that a different cop every week would somehow be a plus?

JS: I'm surprised you didn't call out the line where Rosalind is on the phone describing Mick Jagger as a 'nine' and Quasimodo as a 'two'. Of course the reason it stood out to me is because I would rank Jagger and the Hunchback about the same.

PE: I think Lara Parker hung around after "The Trevi Collection" to give evil laugh lessons to Maria Grimm (dead girl Maria)

JS: It made for a nice transition from the cutie-pie that she was, to the demon she would become.

PE: Coincidentally, everyone in this show who discovers a dead body knows exactly what a dead body looks like. The young guy who loses his date through a tumble down the stairs, only to find her body missing, spent three years in Nam and knows just what a dead body looks like (and also knows well the stench of death!). Maria, dead from a really bad day at the office and a percolator, is discovered by her Spanish landlady just moments before she gets up from the couch and wanders off. "No, senor, I've worked at a hospital for ten years, I know the dead when I see them," she tells Captain Siska. Our Captain must be getting tired of hearing the same old line.

JS:  I liked that final shot of he vanquished demon, where we realize that the succubus was in fact Mrs. Chopper (nice hair though-PE).

PE: Very creepy climax when the demon turns her unsavory attention towards Carl, who's smashing her tablet. The image of the demon through the open french doors reminded me of some of those Mexican horror films I ate up as a kid.

PE Rating:

JS Rating:

Next up... Kolchak meets The Mummy!


  1. For some reason, the preview clip advertising this episode always stayed with me. It featured a clip of Milton Parsons decribing what a succubus is and ended with that shot of the creature's face coming through the French windows (although it almost seems like a fake head being pushed forward, I think that actually upped the scare factor since it didn't come off as simply a lady with old-age makeup). Weeeoowww!

    My 3-(going on 4)-year old daughter also loved that appearance; in fact, I'm sure she's impressing her daycare teachers right now with her rapidly expanding vocabulary - "it was not a witch - it was a suck-uh-bus!" ;-)

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  3. First of all, I laughed out loud at Peter's "Hey, nice tooth!" gag. Funny stuff, Pete!

    This episode scared me more than any other when I was a kid. I literally had recurring nightmares of the succubus/Demon woman for years. I definitely had a phobia of shriveled up old ladies with long hair (the old crone in HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL and the dead female astronaut "Stewart" in the beginning of PLANET OF THE APES were two others that gave me nightmares).

    I always think of I LOVE LUCY when I see Milton Parsons on the screen. Remember that episode with the hair tonic and all the bald men? In any case, I love his narcoleptic priest character in "Demon In Lace". Funny stuff.

    Blink and you'll miss Caroline Jones in this, but man, she really looks beautiful with that bob hairdo.

    Andrew Prine plays it great when the stench of the Demon blows the doors open. I love the way he grabs his bandanna to cover his nose and mouth as he wretches. Nice touch, Andrew.

    Funny you guys mention the insane laughing spell the murdered girl has. That FREAKS ME OUT every time I watch it. I also love when we hear her ghostly laugh off-camera as she runs through the campus. Brrrrr!

    Yeah, "Demon In Lace" is one of my favorites. Whenever I watch it, I'm that terrified seven year-old all over again. Good stuff!

  4. I wish the cops were around to arrest Kolchak as he destroyed a Sumerian tablet thousands of years old.

    By the way, the MYSTERY FILE blog is presently discussing THE OUTSIDER, a 1967-1968 series starring Darren McGavin as a world weary, down on his luck private eye. Peter Gunn he is not! The link is

  5. Regarding the mint sauce scene (and indeed, Prine's presence screamed "low-budget horror film!" so loudly that it made him seem a perfect guest star, wardrobe notwithstanding), I've always wondered about Carl's frequent impostures. I dig that he knows there are cases where a representative of the fifth column--er, fourth estate--may not be welcomed with open arms, yet his charades are so often, so quickly, and so easily debunked that I wonder if they're really worth the effort. There also seemed to be a strange vibe regarding Prine and his, uh, "assistants." Or was that just me? Y'know, you'd think that once Prine saw with his own eyes what was really going on, however devoted to antiquity and/or his academic standing he may have been, he would have helped Carl destroy that damned tablet. But I suppose he redeemed himself a little by not pressing charges.

    Wonder if Argento saw this before he made SUSPIRIA?

    I'm with John on Wynn's performance, or perhaps I should say characterization, since he could only go with the material in the script. It was satisfyingly nuanced in "Spanish Moss," but here it's just one-note. I don't know which is weirder, that they only had one repeat cop in the whole series, or that they had Bieri play two DIFFERENT cops. And I, too, made the Parker/Grimm connection.

  6. Re Wynn, it would have been interesting if this episode had screen BEFORE "The Spanish Moss Murders"; that way, we actually get to see the normal "Mad Dog" Siska in action first and THEN we later meet him post-therapy (the effects of which Carl then ruins, transforming Siska back into his more natural, "rabid" state. ;-)

  7. Andrew Prine's biggest success as an actor has to be his fairly major role in THE MIRACLE WORKER (1962), playing Helen Keller's snarky half-brother. And you're right, he became a guest-star fixture on TV during the '60s and beyond. If I'm not mistaken, he played one of the pseudo-Nazi alien invaders in Kenneth Johnson's original V mini-series (I can see his smug mug now!).

  8. That's right, Gary. Michael Ironside ended up dumping a bag full of the alien lizard-killing powder right in Andrew's face as he writhed on the floor decorated with the Visitors' swastika-like symbol.

    Gee, subtle... ;-)

  9. Overall, a pretty good episode, complete with a nice fright-face monster. That Carl and the succubus got down to a battle in the end was perhaps a tad rushed and perhaps could have used a little more vinegar in it, but well done. But like most episodes, there are moments...
    Betty Walker's tumble down the stairs looked like a soft performance of tuck-and-roll, followed by her date suddenly wretching - Bad tuna? Oh right... The student reporter Rosalind could have been utilized so much better IMHO, and like our esteemed hosts I think we needed to see at least one more of those death faces... As to Prine, all he was missing was the aviator glasses to go along with the cravat and bi-plane like layers of lapels. Kolchak played him like Tony's drums, squeezing out that extra info.
    The formula had already been well established and ploughed, but this monster had some interesting elements. Preferrably, I'd have rather seen Carl back on the scooter being chased by the succubus, but you can't have everything.

  10. This one is another one of my favorites (frankly, there's only three episodes that I would put in the "dislike" column. "They Have Been..." "Firefall" and "Mr. R.I.N.G."). Anyway, I don't know if anyone else made the connection, but we've already seen a Stephen Lord-scripted episode, but of a different show. It was the "Specimen: Unknown" episode of "The Outer Limits." Thank God this one was better. But yeah, this has to have (and I still think this) the scariest monster of the series. That thing still scares me.

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  12. A few other things:

    - It's a nice nod to "The Spanish Moss Murders" when Carl asks Siska "how's your therapy going?".

    - Rosalyn, the student reporter, looks and sounds a lot like "Velma" from SCOOBY DOO.

    - The entire time Jackie Vernon is on screen all I can think about is FROSTY THE SNOWMAN (!).

  13. More ~

    In re-watching the episode, a memory came back to me. When I was a little kid and saw this on the original air date, I thought the priest/doctor had DIED at the end of that scene (rather than fallen asleep). My child mind, not understanding the condition of narcolepsia, interpreted that scene as if the Succubus had killed him for offering up too much information to Kolchak. I was a dumb little kid...

  14. One More (sorry! I just re-watched it live-time as I've been commenting):

    We hear one note on the sitar at the top of the conclusion scene. A leftover or re-used cue from "Horror In The Heights", perhaps?

  15. ***edited from an earlier post for spelling errors:

    I would say the look on the first victim's face (Don, his name was) as he is screaming gives us a fair enough idea of what the death faces of the victims look like.

  16. #12 out of 20, 3 typewriters, I liked this one a lot, sexy women all over the place, good makeup, I didn't care so much for the archaelogists, I wished they had gone more into the history of that, very funny scenes with the college reporter and the magazine selling ethnologist.

  17. Doug K is on the right track. Rosalind Winters is played by the very talented Kristina Holland, who played a heavy-set Velma variant in another Hanna Barbera cartoon show: WAIT TIL YOUR FATHER GETS HOME, their attempt to do a more mature show. The first season is on DVD.