LETTERS  PCR #323      (May 29--June 4, 2006)

  • Reader Comments on "Circle of Fear/Ghost Story" Episode

    Letters to the EditorWe welcome your feedback.


    Hello Nolan,
    A "Cathy" on your "Letters to the Editor" page issued a question about a plot concerning a boy's dog being lost in a hole in the ground and wondered if the plot was from "Rod Serling's Night Gallery" or "Circle of Fear/Ghost Story" TV series. (Cathy's letter appeared in PCR #255 and was referenced again in PCR #285 ---Nolan)

    I can see where the confusion occured; the story was actually one of three stories linked together in the early1970's supernatural/"factual" TV movie "Encounter with the Unknown" which featured voice-only hosting by Rod Serling who would provide the same service on two other similar styled films on U.F.O.s and other paranormal events (undoubtedly hired to cash in on his "Night Gallery" popularity). "Night Gallery" and "Circle of Fear/Ghost Story" were individual productions with no connection to each other or "Encounter with the Unknown."

    "Encounter with the Unknown" dealt with 3 legends allegedly based in fact:

    Story 1: a woman who "curses" three college-age men for the prank which led her son to the doorway of a frightened elderly woman--who shoots the boy to death; the mother's curse (if I recall this to the letter) "One by land, two by air; Remember the Heptagon, for it is there" comes true as each of the pranksters dies--one by being hit by a car, another when his skydiving parachute fails to open, and another who is on a passenger plane which crashes.

    Story 2: A husband and wife picks up a hitch-hiking dispondent young woman to give her a ride to her parents' home. When the driver goes to the girl's door to alert the residence, an elderly man answers, and promptly informs the driver that his daughter is dead. This leads to a flashback of the father in younger years--possibly the 1920's, when he forbade his daughter to see her lover. Eventually, the couple's troubles motivate them to run away, but their Model T skids off of a bridge, killing the lovers. Back in the present day, the driver goes to get the girl, only to discover she has disappeared in the back seat--right under the nose of the driver's wife. This oft-told, oft-altered legend is said to occur in many regions, and Serling warns against ever picking up such a hitch hiker.

    Finally, Story 3 is the subject of Cathy's question. In this tale, set in the rural American South, locals discover a deep hole in the ground (in the woods) leading to some kind of underground lair; a boy's dog falls into the hole, and after a few echoing barks, falls silent. The townspople also hear unGodly moaning and howling coming from the hole, but the boy's father (and townspeople) decide to use a rope to go down into the hole. After the father is lowered into the hole, he screams in absolute terror, climbs out of the hole bellowing, and runs wildly through the woods, gripped by horror and insanity..with the oy chasing after his father. Fear sets in the towsfolk, who decide to drop dynamite in the hole to destroy whatever lives down there and seal the entrance forever.

    "Encounter with the Unknown" is available at Amazon.com. For the other Serling-hosted TV movies, try a name search on the same site.

    Universal DVD released the first season of "Night Gallery" (including the 1969 NBC TV movie which launched the series) as a DVD box set in 2004, and promised the second season for October '05. Unfortunately, that 2nd season box set is still in DVD limbo. We can only hope it will be released later this year for Halloween '06?

    "Circle of Fear/Ghost Story" is unavailable in all home video formats.

    I had fun just remembering this stuff!

    T. M. Fangs

    "Fangs" so much for writing, T. M, haha! Lots of good information in there and I'm sure I speak for Cathy when I say we're grateful you took the trouble to enlighten us! Keep in touch.

    And just so you know, fellow fan Andy Lalino left a comment on this topic via the message board ---Nolan

    To send an email to Letters to the Editor write to: Crazedfanboy1@aol.com.  Any emails sent to this address will be assumed intended for publication unless you specifically instruct me not to. I can and do respond privately, if that is your preference. Frequently, it's both ways.---Nolan

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