Sunday, November 25, 2012

B.J. and the Bear – "A Coffin with a View"

Star International Pictures hires B.J. to transport two coffins recovered from Dracula’s castle in Poenari, which will be used in a promotional stunt to advertise an upcoming vampire movie. Accompanying him is the elderly caretaker of the castle, who warns of dire consequences if the coffins are opened.

After a homicide victim is found with bite marks on his neck and his body drained of blood, B.J. wonders if he should have taken the man more seriously.

I had low hopes for this episode going in, but was pleasantly surprised by just how good it was. It’s worth watching provided you skip through what must be the worst theme song in television history.

George Lazenby (seen in the above photo) is effective as the mysterious Desmond, and Foster Brooks is hilarious as the drunken actor who stars as the vampire from the film-within-the-TV-show (and his busty female companion is straight out of a Hammer horror movie).

Foster Brooks as Drunk Vampire
Writer Michael Sloan definitely did his homework, as he weaves elements of the life of Vlad the Impaler into this fictional Dracula. This was written just handful of years after the life and times of Vlad Tepes was first brought to light by authors Raymond McNally and Radu Florescu, in their book In Search of Dracula: A True History of Dracula and Vampire Legends (1972).

I won’t give away the ending, but as with most stories, the vampire element is eventually explained away—even though the caretaker isn’t convinced, and ultimately, neither is the audience.

This entertaining story is must-see Un-Dead TV!

5 out of 5

Danny Glover as reporter Mac Thomas (uncredited)
Did you know? John Carradine, who played the caretaker, starred as Dracula on several occasions: in House of Frankenstein (1944); House of Dracula (1945); the “Dracula” episode of Matinee Theatre (1956); Billy the Kid versus Dracula (1966); and in Nocturna: Granddaughter of Dracula (1979).

  • NBC, March 10, 1979 (S01E03)
  • Director: Ray Austin. Writer: Michael Sloan
  • Cast: Greg Evigan, Pamela Hensley, John Carradine, George Lazenby, Christopher Carroll, Foster Brooks


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