ONCE UPON A MIDNIGHT SCARY (1979)
aka Once Upon a Midnight Dreary
Article 5073 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Nell Cox
Featuring Vincent Price, Rene Auberjonois, Severn Darden
What it is: Biblio-propaganda
Vincent Price serves as host and narrator to a trio of horror stories based on famous books – “The Ghost Belonged to Me”, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “The House With a Clock in Its Walls”.
This was originally an episode of a TV series called “CBS Library”, the purpose of which was to foster interest among the young to read. Given this as its intended purpose, it should be no surprise that the adaptations of the three stories are rather threadbare; they were never meant to be full-blown adaptations of the stories and shouldn’t be judged as such. However, all three of the stories do feel complete within their own respective arcs, and as far as the only one I’m familiar with (“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”), what is mostly missing is background and setup, while the climactic scene is on display. Incidentally, “Hollow” is my favorite of the bunch, largely because I like the way the segment mounts the chase between Ichabod and the Headless Horseman; it’s low budget but fun. Vincent Price adds some flavor as host and narrator, and the other stories (or what there is of them) are passable. However, it is important to keep the expectations within the limits of what was intended by the show.