Carl Reiner unwisely thunders against the gods from an ancient pagan cult in the Night Gallery segment “Professor Peabody’s Last Lecture” reviewed here.
“Professor Peabody’s Last Lecture” **
Written by Jack Laird
Directed by Jerrold Freedman
Carl Reiner as Professor Peabody
Johnnie Collins III as Mr. Lovecraft
Richard Annis as Mr. Bloch
Larry Watson as Mr. Derleth
A college lecture begins with Professor Peabody (Carl Reiner) dismissing long-ago religious cults as being foolish and ridiculous. We get a slew of hard-to-pronounce names and general mockery. One student reminds the professor that even speaking these names aloud is blasphemy, but the professor ignores this warning and proceeds his diatribe as storms begin outside.
When he starts reading aloud from the Necronomicon, the perhaps fictional occult book of magical incantations, another student issues a similar warning of terrible consequences. Undeterred, Professor Peabody goes through a long litany of citations and criticisms of the book. As his voice rises to a crescendo pitch, it is accompanied outside by a similarly gathering in fury storm. This goes on much too long, although Reiner’s energy level and commitment to his ever-increasing rage against these forces is impressive.
After quite some time of hysteria, a lightning bolt quickly ends the professor’s lecture and he is turned into a bizarre, laughable-looking being, a sort of moss-covered being with tentacles and one visible red eye. With his classroom now in stunned silence, he asks, “And now, if there are no further questions…”
This is one of the would-be comic vignettes stretched to ten minutes and it probably would have been served better had it been much shorter. Reiner, though impressive in his role, grows tiresome the longer his diatribe goes on and the ending is again a silly one, due to the budget and special effects limitations in 1971.