ENCOUNTER WITH THE UNKNOWN (1973)
Article #786 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-10-2003
Posting Date: 10-7-2003
Directed by Harry Thomason
Featuring Rod Serling, Gene Ross, Rosie Holotik
A trilogy of three horror tales based on actual events.
Don’t let the presence of Rod Serling fool you; his only creative involvement with this was providing narration (voice-over only) to each of the three tales; since these narrations are much better-written than anything else in the movie, I’m also guessing that he may have written these himself. As for the trio of lethargically paced purportedly-true stories, don’t expect anything that would have passed muster on “The Twilight Zone” (or, for that matter, “Night Gallery”). The first and the third stories are utterly predictable; the first involves a prophecy which you know will come true (after all, no one would bother telling the story if it didn’t turn out to be true), though at least one plot element (involving a gun that goes off accidentally) is such an odd, unexpected event that it does make the story a bit more convincing. The third story is one of the most common urban legends around; I call this segment “Encounter with the All Too Well-Known”. It’s the second story that is the most interesting, as it leaves its mystery unresolved, and generates a fair amount of atmosphere. The most annoying aspect of this movie is its constant recycling of its own footage over and over again (the event happens; someone tells somebody else about the event, and we see the footage again; that person tells a third person about the event, and we see it again, etc.) as if constant reviewing of the footage will give it a documentary feel; instead it made the movie irritating (I didn’t NEED (or want) to see the scene of the woman making the prediction at the funeral five or six times). Incidentally, the movie is essentially over fifteen minutes before it’s over; the last part of the movie includes a mushy romantic interlude with a love song and lovers walking through fields and doing cutesy lovey-dovey stuff, and then a ten-minute commentary on the events in the movie (using, you guessed it, footage we’ve already seen).
P.S. – Don’t try to check up on the events in these stories; the names have been changed to protect the innocent.