Monday, November 10, 2014

Cult-TV Theme Watch: Jars

A jar, a common household item, is a broad-mouthed cylindrical container. It sounds fairly innocuous in description, but a jar very often holds terror, at least as far as cult-television programming is concerned.

In The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1962 – 1964), an episode called “The Jar” aired on February 14, 1964, but was no Valentine’s Day treat.  Instead, the story from Ray Bradbury involved a circus tent, and much speculation about the hideous…thing on display inside one particular jar.

The episode was later re-made (or re-imagined, rather), with Tim Burton directing, for the 1985 Alfred Hitchcock Presents version for NBC.  In that case, the jar was on display in an art gallery, if memory serves.

The 1972 horror anthology Ghost Story/Circle of Fear (1972 – 1973) from William Castle also featured a terrifying story about jars.  In “Earth, Air, Fire and Water” an artist moves into an old shop and works there in an artist’s collective. One day, a crate is found, filled with large, colored jars. Inside them are the pernicious spirits or souls of diabolical, deceased people. These spirits proceed to infect the artists and their art, in ever more menacing fashion.

Another story from the same series, “Legion of Demons,” sees a woman briefly trapped inside a jar, a striking and terrifying image.  This was also an image explored, occasionally in Irwin Allen’s Land of the Giants (1968 – 1970).

In the 1980s version of The Twilight Zone (1985 – 1988), one episode “The Hellgrammite Method” involved a cure for alcoholism involving a horrible worm, seen ensconced inside a large jar.

"Jar," an episode of the horror anthology Monsters (1988 - 1991), finds femme-fatale Ann (Gina Gershon) plotting to do away with her mobster husband using a horrible monster in a jar, one that can dissolve the human body and leave no trace in mere seconds.

Outside of horror, jars have appeared in several science fiction programs as well.  In Star Trek: The Next Generation’s (1987 – 1994) first season episode, “Datalore” the pieces of an android “identical” to Data, Lore (Brent Spiner) are wheeled into sick bay in jars, suspended in some kind of fluid.

And in the David Tennant era of Doctor Who (2005 – present), the Time Lord was seen to travel with his own severed hand (lost during a confrontation with the Sycorax during his regeneration…) in a jar.  The hand proved the key to his survival in “The Stolen Earth” cliffhanger.

Brains in jars, meanwhile have appeared in Doctor Who (“The Brain of Morbius), Wonder Woman (“Gault’s Brain”) and V: The Series (“Secret Underground.”)

No comments:

Post a Comment