Thursday, August 12, 2021

Revisiting The Wild Wild West: The Night of the Undead

"The Night of the Undead" 
Written by  Marvin J. Chomsky
Directed by Calvin Clements Jr.
Synopsis: Searching for a missing scientist, West stumbles upon a voodoo ceremony--and possibly the walking dead.

Trey: I would be tempted to think this episode was inspired by Live And Let Die--if it didn't predate the film by by four years! Thinking about it more, I think White Zombie (1932) is it's likely antecedent.

Jim: Yeah, this episode busts out of the gate hard with the voodoo motif - and I like it! From the Stork hooded voodoo priestess to the seemingly zombie henchman, this episode really starts off in a way that suggests we are going to have another dip in the world of supernatural--an area not explored since the Sammy Davis Jr. episode, "The Night of the Returning Dead."

Trey: Though the answer is mad science, not magic, we are definitely back in the realm of the weird. An area this season as mostly avoided!

Jim: Well, this episode was written by a guy who gave us a first season episode with a strong premise, "The Night of the Steel Assassin." Though it felt that one didn't live up to its promise.

Trey: I feel like he delivers in this one.

Jim: Oh yeah. Artie's search for the source of the skull medallion gives Ross Martin a good bit of screentime. I suspect that on any other show, the amount of lines Martin is often given over Conrad would be a point of contention. However, I'm willing to bet that as long as he got some prime action scenes, Conrad was okay with Martin getting a lot dialogue.

Trey: Conrad was like: "Give me a shirtless scene and some fights. That's what the audience is here for!"

Jim: Ha! A quick question about West's fight scenes: Are they better than those of Captain Kirk's? I want to say yes. I feel like Conrad puts more physical intensity into his fight scenes, but that's just my unscientific opinion.

Trey: Absolutely, yeah. Conrad was into both stunt work and fighting. I don't think Shatner particularly cared about those things.

Jim: The underground vineyard is one of the better setpieces we've seen this season. It has multiple levels even!

Trey: Yeah, I thought that was really good, too, though I was suspicious it might be a redress/rearrangement of the set from "The Night of the Bubbling Death." But very Bond-like, I think, and also pulpy.

Jim: Dr. Articulus' plan to marry the daughter of his long lost love has got to be the creepiest master plan we've ever had on this show! Combined with the web covered mansion, this weird romantic angle gives the episode a very gothic feel. 

Trey: Agreed. It's like "The Night of the Man-Eating House" in that respect...Which also featured Hurd Hatfield!

Jim: You're right! So the voodoo setup we got in the beginning may have been a ruse, but it all works.

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