The world is loud, and it’s only getting louder. Escaping the noise from outside can seem impossible, especially if you live in an urban environment. But as anyone who visits them knows, libraries are a refuge from all the hustle and bustle.
While they’ve evolved to be more like community centers, libraries still encourage guests to keep their voices low. Almost silence is preferred, but sometimes too quiet and too alone is nerve-wracking. Maybe even scary. At the wrong time of night, a library takes on a completely different identity.
These five episodes of TV anthologies show strangers hiding among the bookcases, customers in danger and librarians struggling to survive.
Journey into the unknown (1968)
Matakitas is coming
In the late 1960s, Hammer Film Productions and 20th Century Fox Television collaborated on an anthology called Travel to the Unknown† And like that of 1973 thriller series, both American and British actors were cast in the roles. In America, eight of the seventeen episodes were chosen for four television movies; one of these includes the fan favorite,”Matakitas is coming†
Neither Hammer nor 20th have bothered to re-release the series today. So the show’s lost time seems appropriate for this episode, which is about a woman who was trapped in the past. Vera Miles from The birds fame plays a determined criminologist named June Wiley. One fateful night, Wiley investigates the 1927 murder of a librarian at the scene where she died. Sometime in the evening, Miles’ character is transported back to the night of the crime.
June is not alone in her misadventure; she is accompanied by a librarian named Sylvia (Gay Hamilton† The business in an otherwise empty and eerie library is welcome because the victim in the June investigation died on this day. Which means only the murderer, Andros Matakitas (Leon Lissek) lurks around.
The limited location is not an obstacle; director Michael Lindsay-Hogg makes a lot of use of the setting. Every footstep is menacing, as are the shadows on the wall. He capitalizes on the innate creepiness of libraries after closing time. “Matakitas” builds up a lot of tension before finally giving a big jolt at the end.
File under fear
The library in this episode of the British anthology, thriller, attracts many people from different walks of life. While most check out books, one customer checks out potential victims. someone in “File under fear‘ is a murderer, and the only clue to their identities so far is their library card.
At the beginning of the episode, a pedestrian is strangled while walking alone at night. This signals a new stream of female victims, all discharged in the same way. The only thing that binds them is their youth; they are all in their twenties. The local buyers are stunned, but the public gets a few suspects when the main character, the chief librarian at Penbury Public, is introduced. Miss Liz Morris (Maureen Lipman) is surrounded by suspicious men. The Assistant Librarian, George (Richard O’Callaghan), hates Morris for not giving him a key to the library, and Liz’ mother’s boarder, Steve (John Nightingale), appeared not too long after the original murders began. However, the most obvious choice has to be the shady police officer visiting the library. It goes without saying that a murderous cop can easily evade his colleagues.
The killer’s preference for women in her twenties excludes Liz, as she has aged from the target audience. Everyone reminds Liz of that fact. Something often held against her is now somehow an advantage. Being “immune” for the perpetrator is cold consolation, but for Liz she ends up feeling even more undesirable. She recuperates some of her power by putting George in his place after previously preying on her vulnerability.
Prolific TV Screenwriter Brian Clemens casts so much doubt on several side characters that the sleuths at home naturally want to ignore them. The story certainly tries to hide the true killer with this red herring. Maybe maybe not. To find the killer, you have to read between the lines.
Stories from the Crypt (1989-1996)
Maniac in general
Stories from the Crypt fans have their favorite episodes, many of which are from the earlier seasons. However, season four is “Maniac in generaldirected by the late John Frankenheimer, has gone unnoticed over the years, despite the tension from start to finish and the great set-up. On top of that, Blythe Danner and musician rigid headline this suspenseful and isolated thriller set in a city library.
The episode takes its plot from ECs Crime Suspen Stories, and little of the source material has changed. “Maniac at Large” illustrates how problems from the outside eventually come in. Misbehaving youth, social problems and other local undesirables find their way into this public domain of knowledge.
Danner’s character, Margaret, thinks the library is a hiding place from the big bad world, but that all changes once news of another murder, the seventh so far in a series, takes place in a nearby park. Margaret’s panic soon sets in at her new job, and she doesn’t rest until closing time. Or so she thought. The bossy Mrs. Pritchard (Salome Jens) lets her new employee stay up late, and Margaret’s anxiety only increases.
It’s an advantage that the episode is limited to one location, as this literature den is also an ideal center for paranoia. Once Frankenheimer has aroused fear, it never goes away. It’s also clear how much fun the cast is having with their roles in “Maniac at Large”.
Are you afraid of the dark? (1990-2000)
The Story of the Silent Librarian
The kids are not good at “The Story of the Silent Librarian† kiki (Jodie Resther) gives her fellow Midnight Society members and young people everywhere a reason to scream as she tells a story about what happens to rowdy kids in libraries.
In this episode of the penultimate season of the original Are you afraid of the dark, a library is haunted by a voice-stealing ghost. Her next victims, Laurie (Shannon Duff) and Jace (Aaron A. McConnaughey), collide when they work together for an assignment. She has no time for fun, while he likes to hang out. So when Jace forgets a book they need in the library basement, both kids sneak in after hours. Big mistake because the library’s “silence is golden” rule is still in effect.
Libraries are often seen as safe places, especially for young people. This episode taps into that belief by imagining what happens when kids get stuck in an everyday destination and meeting place. Loneliness and silence make libraries a fertile environment for terror. And for the most part, this story conveys that idea despite its obvious limitations.
The audio design plays a major role in the success of this story, and the idea of stealing a box and storing sounds is a smart one. It was also wise not to explain Mercy MacGregor’s origins. The ending is rather bittersweet when viewers remember that Laurie and Jace were lucky. Obviously, countless other kids didn’t fare so well against the Quiet Librarian.
The girl who cried monster
This one Goosebumps story, originally published in 1993 before the television adaptation, is yet another twist on “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”. As in Aesop’s fable, a youth has a habit of bending the truth for his or her own amusement. Lucy Dark (Deborah Scorsone) makes it her life’s work to prank her gullible brother, much to her parents’ dismay. It’s not until she starts telling the truth that no one believes her.
Lucy annoys everyone, and she tends to get away with her mischief. That changes once the local librarian, Mr. Mortman (Eugene Lipinskiz), reveals his true form when he thinks no one is watching. Lucy gets a glimpse of the real Mortman; the librarian is actually an insectivorous monster. No one believes in the girl’s claims, and that’s just because she’s lost their trust. So Lucy decides she needs evidence to back up her claim.
There’s something to be said for “The Girl Who Cried Monster” and its less obvious themes. Leaving aside the moral derivation of why lying is bad, this story explores grotesque assimilation. If Mr. Mortman doesn’t fit in, he’ll be punished. Meanwhile, those who have learned to adapt better to their current environment are apparently better off doing so. Then there is the aspect of flawed victims, whose past behavior has been used against them.
Fortunately for Lucy, her parents eventually believe her. The book and episode vary in how this happens, but the result is the same. What’s even more fun is all the chewing on the scene in the TV interpretation.
Series of fears is a recurring column that focuses primarily on horror on television. Specifically, it takes a closer look at five episodes or stories — each with an overall theme — from various anthology series or the occasional movie made for TV. With anthologies becoming popular again, especially on television, now is the perfect time to see what this timeless way of storytelling has to offer.