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Legacy of a ‘Thriller’

23 Aug, 2010 By: John Latchem

Image Entertainment will release Thriller: The Complete Series as a 14-DVD set Aug. 31 at $149.98. The 1960-62 anthology series was hosted by horror icon Boris Karloff, who is forever enshrined in film lore for his role as Frankenstein’s monster.

The boxed set includes all 67 episodes, featuring stories from the likes of Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Bloch and Cornell Woolrich, with guest stars including William Shatner, Leslie Nielsen, Rip Torn, Richard Chamberlain, Mary Tyler Moore, Cloris Leachman and more. Extras include 29 new audio commentaries, extensive photo galleries, rare episode promos and isolated music tracks.

Karloff’s daughter Sara recently discussed her father’s role on the series and his legacy.

HM: What was it like growing up the daughter of Boris Karloff?
Sara Karloff: As my father was the antithesis of the roles he played, living with him was absolutely the opposite of what one might expect. He was a soft-spoken, gentle, funny, lovely English gentleman. As a father he was always fair, and as he did himself, he expected one to do one's very best, keep one's word, listen to others, and help the underdog. It was a privilege to be his daughter and still is. He left a remarkable legacy, both personally and professionally.
HM: Fans have been waiting for “Thriller” on DVD for a while, but was there anything that surprised or delighted you from it?
Like the fans, I, too, have been waiting and waiting for “Thriller”to be released in its entirety. This is a first-rate job that Image Entertainment has done, and I know the fans are going to be delighted with the boxed set. The series is superb in and of its own and the writing, the directing and the acting have stood the test of time. Each episode is special in its own right, and the extras that have been added make the collection a real treasure for the fans.

HM: Do you have any personal stories or memories of “Thriller,” either being on the set or watching it at home with your father?
My father loved having the chance to do the “Thriller” series. It was such quality work, and it gave him an opportunity to work with such talented actors of the time, such extraordinary writers and directors as well. He tailored his introductions to each episode and invited the audience to join him in the experience of its "thrill." I never was able to visit the set, but I remember how delighted he was with how popular the series was with the fans.
HM: From Frankenstein to his narrating How the Grinch Stole Christmas to hosting “Thriller,” people loved your father. What was it about your father that audiences seemed to be drawn to?
I think my father's own modest nature as well as his lovely warm sense of humor came through in his roles and his introductions, in all of his work — not quite tongue in cheek — but the fact that he didn't take himself seriously. He respected his work, appreciated his fans and invited the audience to join him in the adventure of what they were about to see and experience. His warmth of personality and the fact he never insulted the intelligence of his audience by talking down to them or walking through a part all endeared him to his fans. He loved his profession and respected his fans. I have to thank the fans for their continued respect and interest in my father and his work and legacy.
HM: When people find out who your father is, what questions do they most often ask, or what do they want to tell you?
My father was one of the very few people in the business about whom nothing negative was ever written or said. That is absolutely remarkable. I am very fortunate to benefit from that legacy. Therefore, the fans are very respectful to me, and the stories they share with me and the questions they ask me are loving and heartfelt. I learn more wonderful things about my father every time I hear from one of his fans.
HM: Did your father enjoy a good scary story?
My father's favorite author was Joseph Conrad, and he was a voracious reader. He loved good mysteries and preferred the word "terror" rather than "horror." He compiled several anthologies and enjoyed suspense stories, but he would be disgusted with today’s slash and gash and gore. He would find it an insult to the intelligence of the audience.

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