My friend Fred — who keeps me in the loop on all of these matters — just e-mailed me with a link to TV Shows on DVD to make me aware that the William Castle horror series Ghost Story/Circle of Fear (1972) will become available to own on May 1st. A 6 DVD set is being produced for Sony’s MOD program.
This William Castle TV series was a horror anthology that ran for one season on NBC, but under two formats. In the first format, Sebastian Cabot hosted from creepy Mansfield House as “Winston Essex.” In Circle of Fear, the narrator and location were omitted, but the stories were equally horrific. Many of the episodes involved vampires, or evil animal spirits, for some reason.
The series premiered on September 15, 1972 and stories were penned by Richard Matheson, Dorothy Fontana, Robert Bloch, Anthony Lawrence, Jimmy Sangster, Seeleg Lester and Halsted Welles. Directing episodes were Richard Donner and John Llewelyn Moxey. Guest stars included Janet Leigh, Patricia Neal, Angie Dickinson, Kim Darby, Martin Sheen, Susan Dey, Patty Duke, Tab Hunter, David Soul, Meg Foster, Gena Rowlands, James Franciscus, Carolyn Jones, and Karen Black.
Fourteen episodes of the anthology were featured under the title of Ghost Story, and many of these shows were absolutely terrific. Matheson’s series pilot “The New House,” was one of the very best, by my recollection. Nine additional episodes were produced under the title Circle of Fear, and among those was Fontana’s “Earth, Air, Fire and Water,” adapted from a story by Harlan Ellison.
I reviewed Ghost Story/Circle of Fear in its entirety for my award-winning 2001 book, Terror Television, and as I recall many episodes of the series felt overlong and over-emphatic, but there were also some scary, unsettling gems in the mix too.
I must confess, this is one of those obscure TV series I never thought would make it to DVD, so it’s a real thrill to see this bit of terror TV brought back for the 21st century.
Now, if we could just get The Evil Touch on DVD next…