Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: "The Dummy's Revenge" (October 11, 1975)

In “The Dummy’s Revenge,” a ventriloquist called “The Phantom of Vaudeville” (Tim Herbert) and his dummy, Elmo (Brian Berlin), materialize in the graveyard on the outskirts of town, near the castle where they once lived.  They have returned to the land of the living to inflect revenge on the act that replaced them on stage, in audience affection.

Spenser (Larry Storch), Kong (Forrest Tucker) and Tracy (Bob Burns) are assigned by Zero the task of stopping these ghosts.  When they announce themselves as ghost busters, however, the Phantom and his dummy turn their wrath on them…so they pretend to be vaudeville stars.

During the ensuing confrontation, the de-materializer doesn’t work and that the phantom can only be destroyed by unmasking him…

God help me, I’m starting to enjoy the goofy and sophomoric charms of The Ghost Busters (1975), a cheap-jack Filmation live action series. This episode isn’t any better than any of the others, and yet somehow, I am learning to tolerate the goofy shtick better.

Here, we get the usual jokes: the self-destruct joke (of the mission tape), the file cabinet joke, and the mistaken identity joke too.  In this case, the Ghost Busters are mistaken first for Vaudevillians, and then they wish to prove they are actually vaudevillians, when the Phantom targets them as ghost hunters.  The vaudeville act performed by Spenser, Kong, and Tracy -- under duress -- in the ubiquitous haunted castle, isn’t half bad.

The villains are also actually a bit creepy this time, although victims of the same quirk.  It’s not just a ventriloquist and his dummy to fight here, but the ghost of a ventriloquist and the ghost of a ventriloquist’s dummy.  That’s just so incredibly awkward, but a necessity, I suppose if the de-materializer is in the picture. This week, however, the de-materializer doesn’t even work.  I guess the powers that be felt these ghost busters had to be constantly fighting ghosts, not other monsters of the week, hence the fact that every monster -- whether mummy, vampire, Frankenstein monster or ventriloquist’s dummy --  had to be a ghost.

Next week: “A Worthless Gauze”


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