Series three, episode six "Lizard's Leg and Owlet's Wing", was a Halloween episode that featured horror legends Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre and Lon Chaney Jr, all playing themselves and dressed up as various monsters they portrayed. Some episodes of this series are available on general release VHS, but unfortunately not this one as far as I know. However, you can probably find a collector's copy on e-bay or somewhere.
Directed By: Robert Gist
Written By: Stirling Silliphant
Starring: Martin Milner, George Maharis, Lon Chaney Jr, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre ...
Running Time: 60 min
Air Date: 26/10/1962
The episode opens with Lon Chaney Jr dressed up as the hunchback, creeping slowly towards a sleeping child ... the child then wakes up and says hello to his grandad, Lon Chaney. Aww. Chaney Jr, of course, never played the hunchback -- the scene is a tribute to his father who famously portrayed the character. He then has a telephone conference with his friends Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre, who are concerned that people no longer find the old monsters scary so for some vague reason they decide to meet up at an inn, where they meet the hip, swinging stars of this series.
Chaney next shows up in a coffin dressed as a mummy, because apparently that makes sense. But anyway, they decide that they need to fulfill the impossible task of scaring a woman who is in love, in order to prove that the old monsters are still the scariest. To accomplish this, Karloff dresses up as Frankenstein's monster, Lorre dresses up as a vampire, and Chaney dress up as a wolf man. It appears to work, of course, and they decide to make a movie together. Hurrah!
For this memorable episode, Karloff and Chaney donned their Universal "Frankenstein" and "Wolf Man" monster makeup for the first, and last, time in decades. It's all wonderfully sexist -- the two fellas who work at the inn spend all their time trying to score with the ladies, and there's one scene where Chaney and Lorre make a whole room full of women collapse in fear. The script and the performances are a bit lame, but they all seem to be having a lot of fun, and it great to see all these great actors together on screen.
This episode is a little piece of American television history, and if you get the chance you should definitely sit down and watch it, particularly if you're a fan of the three great actors involved.
The story here is about how the three horror actors are concerned because they've fallen on hard times (quite true-to-life, then), and the reason for this, Karloff reckons, is that people are no longer scared by the monsters and ghosts of old. I suppose it's all fairly relevant, as in the early sixties movies such as "Psycho" and "Peeping Tom" brought more realistic and everyday 'monsters' to the screen, possibly replacing the more fantastic creatures of the classic era. But I doubt they realised the significance when they were making it.
All the same, it's good to see Chaney back in his "Wolf Man" makeup. Although he did play a werewolf two years earlier in the Mexican movie "La Casa Del Terror", that makeup didn't really resemble the original Universal design as much as this. And of course, it's great to see Karloff back in his old Frankenstein makeup. And it's good to see Lorre in his ... umm ... is Peter Lorre himself a monster? Maybe he's supposed to be a vampire or something. Who knows. Anyway, the three of them make a memorable team all the same (see bottom photo).
There are of course no transformation scenes to speak of, and we don't even see the makeup being applied. Chaney's "Wolf Man" makeup looks like a much cheaper version of his classic "Universal" makeup, but works pretty well for this episode (see second photo down). The same is true of Karloff's makeup unfortunately. But hey, it's all good fun.