Essentially a Night Gallery comic blackout sketch expanded to 15 minutes, and not much the better for it, “The Funeral” is reviewed here.

“The Funeral” *1/2

Written by Richard Matheson
Directed by John Meredyth Lucas
Joe Flynn as Morton Silkline
Werner Klemperer as Ludwig Asper
Harvey Jason as Morrow
Charles Macauley as the Count
Jack Laird as Ygor
Laara Lacey as Jenny of Boston
Leonidas D. Ossetynski as the Second Male Vampire
Diana Hale as the Female Vampire
Jerry Summers as Bruce

Morton Silkline (Joe Flynn, funny in an understated, mild-manner way, sort of a poor man’s Bob Newhart), runs a funeral home and is paid a visit by the distinguished Ludwig Asper (Werner Klemperer, Col. Klink from Hogan’s Heroes, with a beard), who wishes to arrange the most lavish, spare-no-expense funeral including a casket lined with gold rather than silk, that Silkline can provide.

Happy to arrange what should be a very profitable funeral, Silkline begins to take down some notes, with the first question being the name of the deceased. “Asper,” Asper replies, and we can already tell where this is going. Silkline asks if it’s a relative and Asper replies with a smile, “Me. I never had a proper going off. I always regretted that.”

Silkline is angry at what he assumes to be a joke, but Asper assures him that he is serious. He wants the event to occur in a matter of days and expects that all will be perfect. He requests that a mirror be removed from the foyer. OK, so now we now a vampire will attend, and I find myself wishing I’d been counting how many times vampires have made their way into Night Gallery stories.

Asper takes his leave and as he does so changes into a bat and flies out an open window. Because he, of course, is a vampire. Yawn.

Asper returns on the night of his funeral and surveys the room where the event will be held approvingly. Then the guests arrive and the would-be humor begins, sending the segment spiraling down the drain. A weird, “funny” vampire and witch, Ygor (series producer Jack Laird in another one of his cameos), a werewolf, a Peter Lorre-esque guy. Long, failed comedy segment short, the guests go berserk, destroy the room and Silkline faints.

Next we see Silkline some days later, recovered. He receives a package from Asper with a thank-you card apologizing for his guests’ misbehavior and a suitcase stuffed with cash, bringing a smile to Silkline’s face.

Then, a weird, futuristic creature appears at the funeral home, requesting the same full service, saying he’s been recommended by a friend. Silkline is amenable to another such funeral. After all, cash is king.

Again, the humor in this piece, as it normally does in the shorter sketches, falls flat. Incredibly, this mess was written not by Laird, but by the great science fiction author Richard Matheson. We all have our bad days, I guess.

Advertisements