Thriller ‘A Killer With Two Faces’ (1975) | Stills : Gallery
Thriller is a British television series, originally broadcast in the UK from 1973 to 1976. It is an anthology series: each episode has a self-contained story and its own cast. As the title suggests, each story is a thriller of some variety, from tales of the supernatural to down-to-earth whodunits.
The series was created by Brian Clemens, who also scripted the majority of the episodes and storylined every instalment, and produced by John Sichel (the first 3 series), John Cooper (series 4) and Ian Fordyce (the final two series) for Associated Television (ATV) at their Elstree studios north of London. It evolved from Clemens’ previous work, in particular two films of a similar style, And Soon the Darkness (EMI-ABP 1970) and Blind Terror (aka See No Evil (Columbia 1971). The latter shared plot similarities with the Thrillerepisodes “The Eyes Have It” and “The Next Voice Your See”. Original music, including the theme tune, was by Clemens’ regular collaborator Laurie Johnson. Some of the storylines were based on episodes of The Avengers and later reused in The New Avengersthat Clemens either wrote or produced. “The Eyes Have It” was based on The Avengers storyline for “Take Over” and “Murder In Mind” became The New Avengers story “Medium Rare”. “The Colour of Blood” featured some elements from The Avengers storylines “Don’t Look Behind You” and “The Joker”.
The stories are often set in the English home counties “stockbroker belt“, but most episodes, especially from the second season onwards, feature at least one American character, usually portrayed by an American guest star, in order to appeal to the American market. After originally being screened late night in the US under the ABC Wide World of Entertainment billing from 1973, in 1978 some episodes were retitled for US syndication and all had additional opening sequences shot, with new titles and credits. Since these were made without the original cast they often feature menacing figures seen only from the neck down. These replaced the original UK and US title sequence that featured a sequence of shots through a fisheye lens, bordered in bright red.
A particular trademark of the series’ storytelling was to hook the viewer with a simple yet totally baffling situation, of the kind seen in films such as Les Diaboliques (1954). “Come Out Come Out, Wherever You Are” takes place at a creaky country house hotel where a female guest begins asking where her travelling companion has disappeared to. The owner claims there was no such guest with her upon her arrival last night. None of the other guests initially recall seeing her, and yet the hotel owner has a secret in his past that could well be causing him to lie. One episode, “Screamer” concerns a rape victim who murders her attacker only for the man to then to be seen everywhere stalking her. Perhaps the most ingenious episode is the Dial M for Murder style “The Double Kill“, in which a man hires a hitman to kill his wife, but makes a fatal error in his otherwise meticulous planning.
Other memorable episodes include “Someone at the Top of the Stairs“, one of a handful of forays into the supernatural, in which two female students move into a boarding house and begin to notice that none of the other residents ever go out or receive any mail, and the well-remembered “I’m The Girl He Wants to Kill“, in which a witness to a murder finds herself trapped in a deserted office block overnight with the killer and is forced to play a deadly game of cat and mouse with him to survive, there is barely any dialogue throughout its second half. Brian Clemens‘s own favourite episode, “A Coffin for the Bride” (US: “Kiss Kiss, Kill Kill”) features a performance from a young Helen Mirren.
Following a worldwide audit during 2003-4, by the then copyright holders Carlton, almost all the original UK PAL fisheye titled 2″ videotapes of Thriller were located and remastered onto modern digital tape by the British Film Institute. (One exception was the story “Nurse Will Make It Better”. However this too exists in PAL/original format on the later 1″ videotape format as a dub from the original master tape. This version was repeat broadcast on the satellite channel Bravo in 1996).