The Norliss Tapes

  • 1973
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Horror

A pilot that never went to series, this supernatural thriller produced and directed by Dark Shadows creator Dan Curtis and based on a story by Fred Mustard Stewart left a lasting impression on a generation of horror-loving TV viewers. Unable to reach San Francisco-based writer David Norliss (Roy Thinnes), who's due to deliver a long-awaited book debunking...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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A pilot that never went to series, this supernatural thriller produced and directed by Dark Shadows creator Dan Curtis and based on a story by Fred Mustard Stewart left a lasting impression on a generation of horror-loving TV viewers.

Unable to reach San Francisco-based writer David Norliss (Roy Thinnes), who's due to deliver a long-awaited book debunking supernatural phenomena, publisher Sanford T. Evans (Don Porter) takes the liberty of letting himself into Norliss' home. He finds a stack of cassette tapes clearly connected with the book project, each containing Norliss' notes on a particular case. Evans listens to the first, which recounts the story of Ellen Cort (Angie Dickinson), the widow of prominent artist James Raymond Cort (Nick Dimitri). Awakened by her watchdog, Ellen follows the animal's barking to Cort's studio and is attacked by a grey-skinned, yellow-eyed horror that looks exactly like her dead husband. Ellen continues to live on the Carmel estate she and her husband shared, but she's badly frightened. Soon after, a series of murders baffles the Carmel police: In each case, the victim has been drained of blood. Ellen mentions that shortly before her husband's death, he bought a mysterious Egyptian ring from curio dealer Madam Jeckiel (Vonetta McGee), and when she and Norliss revisit Cort's studio, they find a statue of a demon called Sargoth sculpted in fresh clay. After they're both attacked by the Cort-creature, Norliss realizes that this case isn't one he can dismiss as mumbo-jumbo.

Fresh from the success of TV movies The Night Stalker (1972) and The Night Strangler (1973) – which inspired the influential TV series Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974-'75) -- Curtis dug back into the horror vein he continued to mine so successfully and came up with The Norliss Tapes. Though the pilot was never picked up, it's a creepy, handsomely shot bogey tale that holds up surprisingly well.

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  • Released: 1973
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: A pilot that never went to series, this supernatural thriller produced and directed by Dark Shadows creator Dan Curtis and based on a story by Fred Mustard Stewart left a lasting impression on a generation of horror-loving TV viewers. Unable to reach Sa… (more)

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