TV Movies

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The Norliss Tapes

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 29, 2015

I saw this when it was first broadcast. It was really scary! Let’s see what I think this time around.

The poverties of vintage TV movie production (zooms, plot jumps and implausibilities, etc.) are actually pretty interesting, if we allow them to be. What if we just decided not to get upset about them? These are just people are at work, and that always deserves some respect.

The prologue, the thing that gets us to the actual titular tapes, is quite gripping. Angie Dickinson is great, actually (get a load of those slacks!). So is Claude Akins! (See is astonishing turn in Budd Boetticher’s Comanche Station, q.v.) I also notice that there’s a lot of good work by these extras. Beautiful Northern California locations too.

The monster is kind of transparent, but his insistent savagery gets to you! The face behind the curtain is especially good. I wonder if those monster-making contact lenses hurt? The underground flight, culminating in the stumbling upon those two bodies, is very well calculated. I sure remember that blood circle thing, from back when I was nine. I still wonder. How did they know about that? Could it still come in handy someday?

Very nice ambiguous ending. Let’s hear it for industrial production, attended by some craft and conscience!