Monday, January 27, 2020

"The New Exhibit"

Martin Lombard Senescu (Martin Balsam) gives a tour of Murderers' Row
“The New Exhibit”
Season Four, Episode 115
Original Air Date: April 4, 1963

Martin Lombard Senescu: Martin Balsam
Ernest Ferguson: Will Kuluva
Emma Senescu: Maggie Mahoney
Dave: William Mims
Gas Man: Phil Chambers
Van Man: Leonard Breman
Sailor: Ed Barth
Sailor: Craig Curtis
Henri Desire Landru: Milton Parsons
Jack the Ripper: David Bond
Albert W. Hicks: Bob Mitchell
William Burke: Robert L. McCord
William Hare: Billy Beck
The Guide: Marcel Hillaire

Writer: Jerry Sohl (original teleplay; as by Charles Beaumont)
Director: John Brahm
Producer: Bert Granet
Director of Photography: George T. Clemens
Production Manager: Ralph W. Nelson
Assistant to the Producer: John Conwell
Art Direction: George W. Davis & Paul Groesse
Film Editor: Everett Dodd
Set Decoration: Henry Grace & Frank R. McKelvy
Assistant Director: John Bloss
Sound: Franklin Milton & Joe Edmondson
Music: stock
Mr. Serling’s Wardrobe: Eagle Clothes
Filmed at MGM Studios

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration:
“Martin Lombard Senescu, a gentle man, the dedicated curator of ‘Murderers’ Row’ in Ferguson’s Wax Museum. He ponders the reasons why ordinary men are driven to commit mass murder. What Mr. Senescu does not know is that the groundwork has already been laid for his own special kind of madness and torment, found only in The Twilight Zone.”

Closing time at Ferguson’s Wax Museum. As the last customers of the day make their exit, Mr. Ferguson informs his only employee, Martin Lombard Senescu, that he is selling the museum property to make way for a supermarket. The museum will cease operations immediately. Martin becomes concerned with the fate of the wax figures in Murderers’ Row: Jack the Ripper, Burke and Hare, Henri Landru, and Albert Hicks. These rare figures are the only works of the great sculptor Henri Guilmont outside of Europe. Martin offers to store the figures at his home until Mr. Ferguson can find a suitable buyer. Mr. Ferguson reluctantly agrees.
            The new guests soon prove to be a burden on the Senescu household. Martin keeps the figures in the basement in a climate-controlled environment and spends hours each day dusting, examining, and tinkering with them. His wife, Emma, claims he is spending too much time with his new “friends,” not to mention running up a massive utility bill with no income to pay for it. On the advice of her brother, Dave, Emma demands that Martin get rid of them. Martin says he plans to buy the figures from Mr. Ferguson and start his own museum. He asks Emma to be patient.
            Emma decides to take more of Dave’s advice and sabotage the figures by turning off the air conditioner while Martin is asleep. She makes her way to the basement in the middle of the night and is in the process of unplugging the air conditioner when Jack the Ripper’s knife sweeps towards her throat. Martin finds her body the next morning. He buries her in the basement, fearing he will be blamed for her murder. 
            Later, Dave drops by to talk some sense into Martin concerning the wax figures. When Dave asks about Emma, Martin tells him that Emma is out of town. Dave doesn’t buy this story and demands that Martin allow him into the basement. Martin refuses and ushers Dave from the house. Dave has other plans, however. He breaks into the basement through the outside entrance. He stops to examine the floor beneath which Martin has concealed Emma’s body. Dave looks up with a silent scream as Albert Hicks’s ax strikes.
            Sometime later Mr. Ferguson stops by to inform Martin of some good news. Marchand’s Wax Museum in Brussels wishes to purchase the figures. Martin is troubled by this and tries to talk Mr. Ferguson out of it. At Mr. Ferguson’s suggestion, Martin goes upstairs to prepare some tea. Mr. Ferguson begins taking measurements of the figures when Landru’s garrote twists around his throat. Martin returns to find Ferguson’s lifeless body at Landru’s feet. Furious, he tells the figures that he plans to destroy them. They suddenly move toward Martin. He hears their voices in his head telling him that he has murdered Emma, Dave, and Mr. Ferguson. The figures descend on him.
            Much later at Marchand’s Wax Museum there is a new figure in Murderers’ Row. It is that of Martin Lombard Senescu.

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:
“The new exhibit became very popular at Marchand’s, but of all the figures none was ever regarded with more dread that that of Martin Lombard Senescu. It was something about the eyes, people said. It’s the look that one often gets after taking a quick walk through The Twilight Zone.”


I. Charles Beaumont and Jerry Sohl    
Jerry Sohl
The most significant and fascinating revelation in Marc Scott Zicree’s The Twilight Zone Companion (1982) is that novelist and scriptwriter Jerry Sohl, best-known for scripting episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Outer Limits, and Star Trek, ghostwrote three episodes of The Twilight Zone under the byline of Charles Beaumont. The first of these was season four’s “The New Exhibit,” scripted by Sohl based on Beaumont’s story idea.
Collaboration was common in Charles Beaumont’s writing career. He began writing television by co-scripting episodes of Four Star Playhouse (with Leonard Pruyn), The Damon Runyan Theatre (with Eustace Cockrell), One Step Beyond (with William F. Nolan), and several with Richard Matheson, for The D.A.’s Man, Markham, Buckskin, and Have Gun – Will Travel, among others. Beaumont co-scripted The Premature Burial (1962) with Ray Russell for director Roger Corman, as well as Burn, Witch, Burn, based on Fritz Leiber’s Conjure Wife, with Richard Matheson the same year. Beaumont’s first novel, Run from the Hunter (1957), was written with John Tomerlin under the joint pseudonym Keith Grantland. Several of the nostalgic essays Beaumont published in Playboy, later collected in Remember? Remember? (1963), were collaborative works or were ghostwritten by OCee Ritch, John Tomerlin, and Jerry Sohl, all of whom wrote scripts under Beaumont’s name for The Twilight Zone. Beaumont collaborated on such Twilight Zone scripts as “Long Distance Call” (with William Idelson), “Static” (with OCee Ritch), “The Prime Mover” (with George Clayton Johnson), and “Dead Man’s Shoes” (again with OCee Ritch). Often, Beaumont’s name was the only one credited on screen. The script for the fifth season episode “Number 12 Looks Just Like You” was credited to Beaumont though it was scripted by John Tomerlin based on Beaumont’s story “The Beautiful People.” Collaboration was such an integral part of Beaumont’s writing that William F. Nolan, in his 1986 bibliography of Beaumont’s works, lists nearly twenty known collaborators with Beaumont, including nearly every member of the so-called Southern California School of writers.*

Charles Beaumont
Collaboration served three purposes for Beaumont. The first was to learn the craft. Beaumont felt more comfortable collaborating on his first novel and his first scripts for television to become familiar with the form. Richard Matheson later told interviewer Matthew R. Bradley, "it was such a strange new world out there that we decided to work together. We collaborated on a lot of different shows." The second reason was to help other writers break into the medium. Though his collaborators would not always receive credit, Beaumont’s connections meant that a story idea by OCee Ritch or William Idelson could become a script for a series like The Twilight Zone. The sort of collaborative arrangement which produced many of Beaumont’s works, including “The New Exhibit,” was strictly against Writers Guild rules, however. George Clayton Johnson, whose work Beaumont helped bring to The Twilight Zone, told interviewer Roger Anker: “He couldn’t share the credit with you because they wouldn’t keep hiring him if they knew he was forming a [writing] factory and farming out to his friends.” 
The third, and principal, purpose of collaboration was that Beaumont was committed to too many assignments to complete the work. Beaumont excelled at getting lucrative writing contracts, whether for film and television scripts, essays for men's magazines, or book anthologies, but never seemed able to turn away an assignment. Beaumont’s solution was to “farm out” some of the assignments to his friends. Beaumont would often have several different projects going simultaneously, with a different collaborator working on each. The finished work was published under Beaumont’s byline and the money evenly split.
By the time Jerry Sohl came to ghostwrite scripts for The Twilight Zone, the reasons for collaboration were different. By the spring of 1963 Beaumont’s family and friends noticed significant changes in the writer. He seemed harried and overworked, oftentimes confused, angry, and unable to recall short term memory. He seemed to be physically aging before their eyes, appearing as a man in his fifties rather than his thirties. By the end of the year Beaumont was no longer able to write. Friends initially contributed the changes in Beaumont’s behavior to overwork and increased drinking but it soon became apparent that the drinking was simply a way for Beaumont to cope with an increasingly terrible situation.
In late 1963 Beaumont rented an apartment in Manhattan to complete his long-gestating novel Where No Man Walks. The sojourn was disastrous. Beaumont was unable to concentrate and unable to follow the course of the narrative he was attempting to create on the page. Scared, confused, and dejected, he returned to California shortly after.
Beaumont was tested by UCLA doctors in the summer of 1964. The result was a diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s. Beaumont’s writing career was essentially over at the height of his creative powers. By March of 1965 Beaumont was checked in to the Motion Picture Country Home and Hospital in Woodland Hills. He died there on February 21, 1967, aged only 38 years. He was said to look ninety years old. 

As Beaumont’s condition worsened and he was no longer able to write and generate income for his family, which included four young children, Beaumont’s circle of friends stepped in to help. Ocee Ritch, John Tomerlin, and Jerry Sohl completed assignments for Playboy, Ray Bradbury and Richard Matheson provided a foreword and afterword, respectively, for The Magic Man, a 1965 collection of Beaumont’s fiction published by Fawcett Crest, and Tomerlin and Sohl scripted episodes of The Twilight Zone.
Beaumont, while still able to attend meetings, was contracted to create a Twilight Zone episode centered on a wax museum. When it came time to write the script, however, Beaumont was simply unable to do so and looked to Jerry Sohl for assistance. Sohl had earlier worked with Beaumont on scripts for Naked City, “Down the Long Night” (1960), credited only to Beaumont, and Route 66, “The Quick and the Dead” (1961). Sohl told interviewer Edward Gross: “He was able to get these assignments, but unable to write the actual scripts. I was a very good friend of his, so he would come out to the house, we would go out to a restaurant and talk over the stories. I would go and write the script and we would split the money. The reason I did it for him is that he was a good friend who was dying. His family had no way to support themselves.”
Jerry Sohl wrote two additional episodes of The Twilight Zone under Beaumont’s name, both for the fifth season. “Living Doll,” in which Telly Savalas portrays an abusive stepfather who endures the wrath of Talky Tina, has become one of the most recognizable and beloved episodes of the series. Sohl’s final script was “Queen of the Nile,” a reworking of Beaumont’s first season episode, “Long Live Walter Jameson.” Sohl was slated to contribute two additional scripts to the series under his own name, including “Pattern for Doomsday,” about eight people selected by a computer to escape an Earthbound asteroid, and “Who Am I?,” about a businessman who wakes up to find he has a different face, but only he knows it’s different.+ These scripts were passed on by the show’s final producer William Froug in a baffling purge of scripts from the show’s core writers, including works from Richard Matheson (“The Doll”), Charles Beaumont (“Gentlemen, Be Seated”), and George Clayton Johnson (“Dreamflight,” with William F. Nolan). “Pattern for Doomsday” and “Who Am I?” were later adapted as Twilight Zone Radio Dramas.
In the later years of his life, Jerry Sohl increasingly received recognition for his contributions to The Twilight Zone, culminating in two posthumously published volumes edited by Christopher Conlon: Filet of Sohl (2003), which contains Sohl’s unproduced Twilight Zone scripts, and The Twilight Zone Scripts of Jerry Sohl (2004). To read more about the life and career of Jerry Sohl, see Brian’s profile.

II. Creating “The New Exhibit”
It has been suggested that “The New Exhibit” is an episode better suited to Alfred Hitchcock Presents/The Alfred Hitchcock Hour or Boris Karloff’s Thriller than to The Twilight Zone. The episode was written by Jerry Sohl, who served as a staff writer on Hitchcock’s series. It resembles Hitchcock’s Psycho in several ways, from an “innocent” character being charged with disposing of bodies, to the casting of Martin Balsam, to, depending on the viewer’s interpretation of the murders, concerning a murderer unknown to himself. It is also an hour-long episode, which resembles the format of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and Thriller. The ambiguous nature of the episode’s supernatural element and focus on the psychology of the murderer also strike the viewer as different from the traditional aspects of a Twilight Zone episode. 

Shaike Ophir and Barry Nelson in the Murderers' Den
"The Waxwork," Alfred Hitchcock Presents
The other series also produced their own versions of the waxworks story before The Twilight Zone featured the theme. “The Waxwork” was produced for the fourth season of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, directed by Robert Stevens (director of The Twilight Zone pilot, "Where Is Everybody?"), adapted by Casey Robinson from the story by A.M. Burrage, broadcast April 12, 1959. Barry Nelson (who appeared on Twilight Zone in "Stopover in a Quiet Town") plays Raymond Houston, a newspaper reporter in a pinch for a gambling debt who convinces Mr. Marriner (Everett Sloane, of Twilight Zone's "The Fever") to allow him, Houston, to spend a night in the Murderers' Den of Marriner's Waxworks in order to write a feature story. Houston soon regrets his decision when he is locked in for the night. Worse still, the murderer Bourdette (Shaike Ophir), who has reportedly been executed recently, has escaped the scaffold and hidden within the Murderers' Den. Bourdette assumed the role of his own wax figure to escape the attentions of a curious policeman. Needless to say, the episode does not end well for the newspaperman. The episode presents the figures of many real-life murderers, including Jack Sheppard, Marcel Petiot, Steinie Morrison, Herbert Rowse Armstrong, Frederick Henry Seddon, Thomas Neill Cream, and Henri Landru. 

Shanner (Michael Pate) in the gallery of Kriss Milo (John Abbott)
“The Mask of Medusa,” based on a story by Nelson Bond, was the final of three segments in "Trio for Terror," a first season portmanteau episode of Boris Karloff's Thriller directed by Ida Lupino (star of Twilight Zone's "The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine" and director of "The Masks"), with story adaptations by Barre Lyndon (Alfred Edgar), broadcast March 14, 1961. Michael Pate plays Shanner, a murderer on the run from police who makes his way into the gallery of Kriss Milo (John Abbott), who has on display twelve figures of murderers who were never caught and convicted. Shanner begins to believe that Milo has killed the murderers and covered their bodies in plaster. He is only half right. Milo is in possession of a very special artifact, the head of the Gorgon Medusa, who turns those who look upon her face into stone. When Milo discovers that Shanner is the fugitive murderer he turns the mask of Medusa upon him and adds Shanner to his collection.  

Ultimately, this comparison of "The New Exhibit" to other series episodes speaks to the variety offered on The Twilight Zone. Whereas Hitchcock’s series focused on stories of mystery and suspense, with the occasional injection of horror, and Karloff’s series, which began as a Hitchcock imitation, on a combination of Gothic horror and mystery, The Twilight Zone never seemed to stand still. The series presented an array of story types, broadly encompassed by science fiction, fantasy, horror, social commentary, existentialism, espionage, mystery, and suspense. It stands to reason that occasionally an episode of The Twilight Zone would resemble another series that’s chosen the episode’s subject as its primary concern. There is a sequence of dialogue in the opening segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) which approaches the idea that Twilight Zone episodes resemble other series when a passenger, played by Dan Aykroyd, recounts the plot of The Twilight Zone episode “A Kind of Stopwatch” and it is mistaken by the driver, played by Albert Brooks, for an episode of The Outer Limits. The non-supernatural episodes of The Twilight Zone, such as “The Silence,” “One More Pallbearer,” and “The Jeopardy Room,” are most-often viewed as outliers better suited to another series.

“The New Exhibit” originated from Charles Beaumont’s idea about a wax figure of the murderer Albert Hicks which comes alive to kill and then returns to the pedestal, baffling police. With Jerry Sohl’s arrival on the project it was decided that it should be more than one wax murderer, perhaps a room full of murderers which come to life. Beyond the idea that the museum figures were murderers the details of the plot were left entirely to Sohl.
Sohl aimed to produce a story about a sad little man whose unwavering dedication to the Murderers’ Row exhibits marks him as the perfect fall guy for the wax figures’ murderous streak. In some ways the episode succeeds in this. Martin Balsam is excellent as Martin Senescu, the obsessive man who loses connection to reality and spirals downward under the influence of the wax figures. The wax figures themselves are suitably unnerving, aided by the decision to use live actors which heightens the uncanny valley effect. John Brahm’s typically atmospheric direction can be seen in places, particularly in the opening sequence when Senescu gives a tour of Murderers’ Row, and in the climactic sequence when the figures come alive to attack Senescu.  
Unfortunately, the script contains aspects which suffered when filmed and have caused viewers to question the eventual outcome of the narrative. Are the wax figures really alive, or was Martin Senescu the murderer the whole time? Beaumont’s original idea and Sohl’s script indicate that the wax figures are alive and presumably frame Senescu for the murders of his wife, brother-in-law, and employer. As filmed, however, the episode can also be viewed the other way, positioning Senescu as the murderer by staging the murders in ambiguous terms, by giving Senescu motive (with the threat of destruction or removal of his prized figures), and by several times alluding to Senescu’s deteriorating psyche. There is also the obvious fact that Senescu is ultimately held accountable for the murders. 
If we are to believe that the wax figures are alive then why stage the murders in ambiguous terms? Why show that Jack the Ripper’s arm has a mechanical switch which swings it into operation? Can we not imagine that Emma activated the foot switch as she was creeping past the figure? Why not clearly show Albert Hicks bring the ax down on Senescu’s brother-in-law? Can we not imagine that Martin crept back down to the basement the moment Dave left and hid in the shadows when he heard Dave breaking in? This sort of aversion to objectivity is commonly used in tales of mystery to protect a rational explanation to be revealed at story’s end. By the time we are shown, in objective terms, the murder of Mr. Ferguson by the wax figure of Landru, it feels as though the episode has changed its direction in terms of the nature of the murders. The first two murders were seemingly set up to be explained away while the final murder clearly shows the wax figure come to life to commit the crime. Though most viewers accept that the figures are alive, no less prominent a chronicler of The Twilight Zone than Marc Scott Zicree, in The Twilight Zone Companion, views the murderer as Senescu and charges the episode with not playing fair with the viewer.
This interpretation of Senescu as the murderer results from the final sequence in which the wax figures appear alive to Senescu, charge him with the murders, and attack him. This, of course, can be explained away as the hallucinations of a madman. The scene ends with the figures descending on Senescu and the viewer is left to guess the method of his demise and the way in which police were able to determine the course of the crimes. Did the wax figures kill Senescu in a way which appeared as though he died by his own hand? If not, how did police determine that Senescu was the murderer and not another victim? Perhaps the old cliche is to be assumed and Senescu died of fright. 
If Senescu was the real murderer, did he kill himself? How did Senescu transition from determined to destroy the figures to taking his own life? Whichever way one chooses to view the murders neither is satisfactory as presented. It is muddled and confusing and the episode’s effectiveness suffers because of it. Suffice it to say that Beaumont and Sohl originally intended for the wax figures to be alive and the episode plays best if the viewer accepts this premise, despite the episode’s attempts to convince the viewer otherwise.
Like many fourth season offerings, the episode is also far too slow developing, taking nearly half an hour to produce a macabre effect. The first half plays out like a strange but staid domestic drama while the second half descends into Grand Guignol horror and the confusing course of events described above. Scenes are noticeably padded with unnecessary dialogue (the scene with the gas meter reader is completely unnecessary) and the episode comes dangerously close to falling into the humorous pattern of murder – hide the body (some have pointed out the episode’s similarities to The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)), which strains narrative logic and erodes character motivation.
There are other, smaller, instances which leave the viewer confused. What is the mechanism behind the wax figures coming to life? In most successful stories of this type there is a haunting, a dream, a possession, a real murderer, or some other reason a wax figure becomes imbued with life. Mr. Ferguson alludes to having been in business for thirty years and that Martin never missed a tour of Murderers’ Row in that time. If we accept that these wax figures have been in Ferguson’s Museum for thirty years and never caused an incident, why then do they suddenly come alive and embark on a killing spree when Martin brings them home? One could suppose that they come alive to kill because they are threatened with destruction by Emma and Dave. Why, then, does Landru kill Mr. Ferguson after it is made known that the figures will be preserved in Marchand’s Museum? Only Martin stands to suffer from Mr. Ferguson’s intrusion. His is the only motive which logically fits all three murders.
Why, also, are Burke and Hare in the episode? The narrative pattern seems to suggest that each wax murderer will kill someone in Senescu’s life, but the episode appears to run out of time to see the pattern through as Burke and Hare are not given the opportunity to do anything. Were they simply included to fill the room? Otherwise, could they not have been eliminated from the play?

Perhaps it is unfair to subject “The New Exhibit” to such close critical examination, but if for nothing else it is useful to illustrate the inconsistencies in the narrative which hamper the episode’s effectiveness. This is not to indicate that the episode is not enjoyable but only an attempt to discover why the episode never seems to generate the propulsive quality of some of the better frightening episodes. Jerry Sohl, who was placed in the difficult situation of crafting a one-hour episode under another writer’s name on a series he'd not written for before, had at least one masterful episode in him when he produced “Living Doll” for the fifth season.  
Ultimately, “The New Exhibit” is an episode whose promise is greater than its delivery. Notwithstanding a handful of unnerving moments, the episode suffers in comparison to similar offerings from the series. Much of the blame for the episode’s shortcomings can perhaps be placed on the hour-long format, and maybe the best way of viewing “The New Exhibit” is to try not to puzzle out its mysteries but simply to enjoy Martin Balsam’s performance, the episode’s macabre atmosphere, and the unnerving presence of the wax figures.

III. Murderer’s Row

The wax murderers are among the creepiest creations for the series and the clear highlight of the episode. The credit for their effectiveness belongs to the performers who brought them to life, so to speak. To achieve the subtle effects of the figures, makeup and still photography were utilized for frames in which the figures are completely frozen while the actors do their best to remain still during scenes in which the other performers interact with the figures. The figures can be seen to slightly move when the camera lingers.  
The first figure we are introduced to is Albert W. Hicks, portrayed by Bob Mitchell. Hicks was initially slated to be the only wax figure in the story when Charles Beaumont pitched the idea for the episode. In the original story Hicks comes to life inside the museum and commits murder, only to return to the pedestal and remain undetected by police. It is interesting to imagine what the episode might have played like had the story been set within Ferguson’s Wax Museum rather than in Martin Senescu’s basement. The museum set is a wonderful piece of production design and sadly used only for the opening sequence of the episode. One can imagine how John Brahm, director of such atmospheric episodes as “Mirror Image,” “Judgment Night,” and “Shadow Play,” might have staged an after-dark sequence in Murderers’ Row.

Albert W. Hicks is among the most infamous killers in American history but the infamy of his crimes has waned in the public consciousness in recent decades. Harold Schechter, writing about Hicks and “The New Exhibit” in his book Psycho USA (2012), observed that “as recently as the 1960s, Hicks was still regarded as one of history’s most infamous killers, a homicidal maniac on the order of Jack the Ripper. Yet in the decades since, the Ripper’s fame has only increased; he has entered the realm of undying myth. By contrast, Hicks, for whatever mysterious reasons, has (like Martin Senescu’s outdated wax museum) become a dusty relic of the bygone age.”
Albert W. Hicks was born around 1820 to a hard labor life as a farmer’s son in Gloucester, Rhode Island. Hicks ran away from home at a young age and quickly fell into a life of crime ranging from petty theft to murder for hire. Hicks was in and out of reformatories and prisons for most of his young life, the result of which was that Hicks became a violent misanthrope who later self-applied the label “the worst man who ever lived.”
Swearing vengeance upon the whole human race, Hicks embarked on a life of piracy, a streak of robberies and murders at sea which culminated in the massacre that ultimately spelled his doom. Hicks got wind of an oyster boat, the E.A. Johnson, reportedly carrying a large sum of money and looking for sailors. He gained passage as first mate under the name William Johnson. The crew was comprised of three other men, Captain George H. Burr and two young sailors and brothers, Smith and Oliver Watts. Once the vessel was upon the sea Hicks butchered the three men with an axe and dumped the bodies overboard. He collected the money and sailed back to shore in separate vessel.
The E.A. Johnson was discovered by another vessel on March 21, 1860 covered in blood and gore. Witnesses quickly identified William Johnson as Hicks and detectives tracked the murderer to Providence, Rhode Island and arrested him. Hicks was charged with piracy rather than murder because there were no bodies to submit as evidence and because it was thought to be the easier charge to bring in a guilty verdict. It also carried a sentence of death. Hicks proclaimed his innocence and sat unmoved throughout the trial but was quickly found guilty and sentenced to hang.
Shortly before his execution Hicks relented and wrote a detailed confession of his crimes, claiming to have murdered nearly one hundred people. His execution was described as having a carnival-like atmosphere to rival Fourth of July celebrations. Hicks was hanged on July 13, 1860 on Bedloe’s Island, later Liberty Island and home of the Statue of Liberty. His death was witnesses by thousands who gathered to watch him swing.
Hicks’s name soon became synonymous with piracy and murder. He was the subject of murder ballads and reported sightings after death. “The New Exhibit” was not the first time Hicks was presented in wax. P.T. Barnum unveiled a life-size wax figure of Hicks in Barnum’s American Museum shortly after Hicks’s execution. It remained among the museum’s most popular attractions for many years afterwards.

L-R William Hare (Billy Beck) and William Burke (Robert McCord)
The infamous murderers and grave robbers William Burke and William Hare are portrayed in the episode by Robert McCord and Billy Beck, respectively. Burke and Hare were Irish immigrants living in Edinburgh who met in 1827 when Burke moved into the boarding house run by Hare. When one of the lodgers died while still owing money to the house, Burke and Hare dug up the man’s body from the local cemetery and sold the corpse to Dr. Robert Knox at the medical school of Edinburgh University. Knox required human cadavers for dissection and instruction and was willing to pay well for bodies. Edinburgh was a leading center of anatomical research but also saw a restriction on the availability of human cadavers, creating a rise in grave robbing.
Burke and Hare took to regularly robbing newly turned graves and selling the bodies to Knox. Grave robbing was a tiring business, however, and soon the duo decided that murder was easier than digging. Their first victim was an ill boarder who Burke sent to a speedy demise by forcibly covering his mouth and nose. This method of suffocation became known as “Burking.”
The duo went on a killing spree which ultimately totaled sixteen murders. They would ply their victims with alcohol before Burke performed his method of suffocation. Then the body went off to Dr. Knox. The duo was found out when guests at Hare’s boarding house discovered the body of their victim Margaret Docherty and notified police. Burke and Hare were arrested and police were able to get Hare to turn evidence on Burke with the promise of immunity. Burke was found guilty of three of the murders and executed on January 28, 1829 in front of a raucous crowd. The public autopsy of his body, by Dr. Knox’s rival Dr. Munro, nearly caused a riot among the numerous spectators. Dr. Knox was not charged as he technically did not break the law. His reputation was ruined, however, and he was forced to flee to London. Hare, too, fled to England and attempted to hide his past.
Illustration by Edward Gorey for
Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Body-Snatcher"
The Haunted Looking Glass (1959)
The West Port Murders, as Burke and Hare’s crimes came to be known, brought about the Anatomy Act of 1832 which increased the supply of cadavers for dissection by making it legal to appropriate the bodies of those who died in the workhouses and remained unclaimed after forty-eight hours.
Burke and Hare inspired a number of artistic treatments, most notable among which is Robert Louis Stevenson’s ghost story, “The Body-Snatcher” (1895). A favorite of anthologists, Stevenson’s tale was filmed in 1945 by director Robert Wise starring Boris Karloff, Henry Daniel, and Bela Lugosi.
The episode commits a small error when portraying the murderers in the episode. The wax tableau shows Hare suffocating the victim rather than Burke performing the act which became synonymous with his name. 

Henri Désiré Landru is portrayed in the episode by Milton Parsons. Landru was known in the press as the Bluebeard of Gambais, named after the villain of French folklore who killed his wives and stored their bodies in a chamber of his castle. Gambais was where most of Landru’s murders occurred. Landru, born in 1869, was a serial murderer and conman who met women through lonely hearts ads, murdered them, and absconded with their valuables. He is known to have killed eleven people between December, 1914 and January, 1919. He killed ten women and a teenaged boy but the true number of his victims is believed to be higher.
Landru’s crimes were largely shielded by circumstance, primarily by the ongoing war and the lack of an effective police presence in the villages where Landru operated. Landru disposed of the bodies of his victims by burning them in ovens, the result of which was that his victims were investigated as missing rather than murdered. Landru also used a variety of aliases to evade capture. The murderer was eventually undone by the sister of one of his victims, who doggedly tracked Landru based on his appearance and persuaded police to arrest him. Although there were no bodies as evidence police eventually discovered paperwork tying Landru to many of the missing women. After an investigation lasting over a year Landru was charged with eleven counts of murder. Landru was found guilty on all counts and sentenced to die on November 30, 1921. Three months later on February 25, 1922, Landru was guillotined at Versailles.

The most unnerving wax figure in the episode is that of Jack the Ripper as portrayed by David Bond. The name Jack the Ripper, taken from a letter written to police at the time of the murders, has become synonymous with "serial killer," due to the savagery of his crimes, taunting letters sent to the police (though likely not by the Ripper), and the unsolved mystery of the Ripper’s identity.
Jack the Ripper savagely murdered five prostitutes in the Whitechapel district of London between August and November, 1888. The first four victims, Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, and Catherine Eddowes, were each discovered in the early morning hours in the streets of Whitechapel. The women’s throats were cut and, except in Stride’s case, where the killer may have been interrupted, their abdomens were mutilated, including the removal of internal organs. The final victim, Mary Kelly, was discovered murdered and mutilated in the single room in which she lived. These five victims are referred to as the “canonical five” since several additional unsolved murders in London and abroad were considered at one time or another to have possibly been the work of the Ripper.
Many have attempted to solve the riddle of the Ripper’s identity and suspects have ranged from actor Richard Mansfield, whose frightening performance in a stage version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at the time of the murders convinced theatergoers that he was the Ripper, to the English artist Walter Sickert, to royal surgeon Sir William Gull, and many, many more in-between.
Jack the Ripper’s crimes have inspired numerous songs, plays, novels, stories, comics, and films. Another example of a horror story in which the Ripper was used in the context of a wax museum is ". . . Said Jack the Ripper" (1957) by Robert Arthur, first published in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. The events of the story mirror those of "The New Exhibit" in that it concerns the proprietor of a murderer's row wax exhibit who is influenced, perhaps even possessed, by the wax murderers to repeat their crimes. The story was included in Alfred Hitchcock Presents: 16 Skeletons from My Closet (Dell, 1963), a volume likely ghost-edited by Robert Arthur, who worked on a number of book anthologies under Hitchcock's name. Arthur also worked on Hitchcock's television series and included a fictionalized version of the Master of Suspense in the juvenile mystery series The Three Investigators. 
Perhaps the most notable Ripper-inspired work is Marie Belloc Lowndes’s novel The Lodger (1913), expanded from her short story published two years earlier. The story concerns a lodger at a London boarding house whom the landlords suspect of being the Ripper. The novel was filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1927 and again by John Brahm, director of “The New Exhibit,” in 1944.

Illustration by Boris Dolgov for
Robert Bloch's "Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper"
Weird Tales, July, 1943
One writer who mined a great amount of material from the Ripper case is Robert Bloch, author of the Twilight Zone: The Movie novelization, who published three stories, a teleplay, and a novel concerning the Ripper. The first story Bloch wrote about the Ripper remains among his most notable works. “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper,” about the Ripper extending his lifespan through black magic, first appeared in the July, 1943 issue of Weird Tales. The story was adapted for radio on The Kate Smith Hour and for Bloch’s now-lost radio series Stay Tuned for Terror. It was later adapted for the first season of Boris Karloff’s Thriller by writer Barre Lyndon and director Ray Milland, broadcast April 11, 1961.
Bloch wrote a sequel to the story, “A Toy for Juliette,” for Harlan Ellison’s Dangerous Visions anthology in 1967. Ellison wrote a sequel to Bloch’s sequel, “The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World,” for the anthology. Bloch’s final story on the theme was “A Most Unusual Murder,” from the March, 1976 issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine.
Bloch’s Star Trek script, “Wolf in the Fold,” broadcast for the second season on December 22, 1967, pitted the crew of the Enterprise against the undying influence of an entity once known as Red Jack (the Ripper). Bloch’s final work on the theme was the 1984 novel The Night of the Ripper. Bloch's Ripper-related fictions were collected in the 2011 volume Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper from Subterranean Press. 

Cover art by J.K. Potter
Jack the Ripper themed anthologies include Jack the Knife, edited by Michel Parry (Mayflower, 1975), Ripper! ed. Gardner Dozois and Susan Casper (Tor, 1988), and Red Jack, edited by Martin H. Greenberg, Charles G. Waugh, and Frank D. McSherry, Jr. Greenberg and Waugh also co-edited The Twilight Zone: The Original Stories (1985, with Richard Matheson) and Rod Serling's Night Gallery Reader (1987, with Carol Serling). Greenberg also edited New Stories from the Twilight Zone (1991), focusing on the source stories for the first revival Twilight Zone series. Readers interested in learning more about the Ripper and the literary works his crimes have inspired can do no better than two volumes from editor Maxim Jakubowski, The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper (Robinson, 1999, with Nathan Braund), an exhaustive case history, and The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories (Running Press, 2015), featuring all-new tales, as well as Otto Penzler's The Big Book of Jack the Ripper (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, 2016). 

IV. The Cast
            Martin Balsam (1919-1996) previously appeared in the first season Twilight Zone episode “The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine” alongside Ida Lupino. Balsam also appeared in the Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse production of Rod Serling’s “The Time Element,” which aired on November 24, 1958 and is considered by many to be the true pilot episode of The Twilight Zone. Balsam appeared in two segments of the first revival Twilight Zone series, the first season episode “Personal Demons” and the second season episode “Voices in the Earth.” Additionally, Balsam worked with Rod Serling on “Bomber’s Moon” for Playhouse 90 in 1958 and for the films Seven Days in May (1964), adapted by Serling from the 1962 novel, and The Man (1972), adapted by Serling from the novel by Irving Wallace.
            Balsam’s versatility as an actor landed him roles in many notable films, including 12 Angry Men (1957), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Cape Fear (1962) (Balsam had a cameo in Martin Scorsese’s 1991 remake), A Thousand Clowns (1965), for which he won an Academy Award for Supporting Actor, Catch-22 (1970), Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), Little Big Man (1970), The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974), Murder on the Orient Express (1974), and All the President’s Men (1976).
            Balsam’s most memorable film role was as private detective Milton Arbogast in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), adapted from the novel by Robert Bloch. Balsam’s death in the film is among the most famous murders in film history. Balsam was cast in the role after appearing on Alfred Hitchcock Presents in the third season episode “The Equalizer.” Balsam appeared again on the series in the sixth season episode “Final Arrangements.”
            Among Balsam’s many television appearances is “The Overnight Case,” an episode of the excellent but short-lived anthology series ‘Way Out, where Balsam appeared alongside Twilight Zone performers Kevin McCarthy and Barbara Baxley. Balsam’s second wife was actress Joyce Van Patten, who appeared in the fourth season Twilight Zone episode “Passage on the Lady Anne.” They were married from 1957-1962.
            Martin Balsam spent his final years living and working in Italy where he appeared in a variety of Italian films. He died in Rome on February 13, 1996, at age 76.

            Maggie Mahoney (1922-2011) was born Margaret Moran and also worked under her name from her first marriage, Margaret Field. She is the mother of actress Sally Field. At the time of filming “The New Exhibit” she was married to actor and stuntman Jock Mahoney. Margaret was born in Houston and moved with her family to Pasadena in the late 1930s. As a young woman she was discovered by a talent scout and signed to a contract at Paramount Studios. She remains best-known for the science fiction films The Man from Planet X (1951) and Captive Women (1952). Mahoney moved into television in the early 1950s and worked on a number of programs, mainly anthologies and westerns. She appeared in an episode of Climax! in an adaptation of William Faulkner’s “An Error in Chemistry.” She retired from acting in the early 1970s to focus on her family. She died at the age of 89 in Malibu on November 6, 2011.

            Will Kuluva (1917-1990) previously appeared in the third season Twilight Zone episode “The Mirror.” He also appeared in two episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, “I Can Take Care of Myself” from the fifth season and “The Money” from the sixth season. Kuluva was a prolific television actor active from the late 1940s until the late 1980s. Among his many television appearances are turns on Tales of Tomorrow, Suspense, and Moment of Fear. His last appearance was in 1988 for an episode of Beauty and the Beast. He died on November 6, 1990 at age 76.

            William Mims (1927-1991) later appeared in the second season Night Gallery episode “The Hand of Borgus Weems,” scripted by Alvin Sapinsley from the story “The Other Hand” by George Langelaan. Mims can be seen in an uncredited role in the fifth season Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode “Cell 227.” He also appeared in episodes of Boris Karloff’s Thriller, “An Attractive Family” from the second season, in which he had the pleasure of being drowned by fellow Twilight Zone actor Richard Long, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and Earl Hamner’s Falcon Crest. Mims would work again with director John Brahm on Hot Rods to Hell (1967). Mims died in Studio City on April 9, 1991 at age 64.

            The remainder of the cast includes some familiar faces. Robert L. McCord (1915-1980), here playing William Burke, appeared in a record 67 episodes of The Twilight Zone, almost always as a stand-in or uncredited extra. The members of The Twilight Zone Café message boards identified every appearance by McCord on the series. You can view that at the Twilight ZoneMuseum.
            Milton Parsons (1904-1980), here portraying Henri Landru, appeared in uncredited roles in two previous episodes of The Twilight Zone, “Once Upon a Time” and “I Dream of Genie.” Parsons also appeared in a small role in one of the best segments of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery, “Camera Obscura,” adapted by Serling from the story by Basil Copper.
            Marcell Hillaire (1908-1988) portrayed the Guide at Marchand’s who introduces us to the wax figure of Martin Lombard Senescu. Hillaire previously appeared on the series as Pierre, the opportunistic but ultimately doomed hotel waiter in the second season episode, “A Most Unusual Camera.”                          

V. Horrors in Wax
Illustration by Paul Geiger for
A.M. Burrage's "The Waxwork"
Great Ghost Stories (1985)
Effigies in wax have captured the imaginations of writers of horror and fantasy since at least the early part of the twentieth century. Early examples include “The Waxen Image – The Hostess’s Story,” a tale of witchcraft from the second volume of Tales of the Wonder Club by Alexander Huth (aka M.Y. Halidom) (as by “Dryasdust”), published by Harrison & Sons (1900). A 1908 collection from Austrian writer Gustav Meyrink titled Waxworks includes the tale “The Waxworks.” Doubles, doppelgängers, and artificial figures feature heavily in Meyrink’s fiction, notably in the novel The Golem, which was translated into English in 1928. “The Waxworks” was translated by Maurice Raraty for a 1994 collection of Meyrink’s short fiction, The Opal (and Other Stories), published by Dedalus.

            The first notable tale of waxworks terror on film was the 1914 silent French short film Figures de Cire. Directed by Maurice Tourneur, father of Jacques Tourneur (director of the fifth season Twilight Zone episode “Night Call”), Figures de Cire concerns a man who, on a dare from a friend, spends a night in the Chamber of Horrors of a traveling waxworks exhibition. The man’s fearlessness wilts under the oppressive influence of the Chamber of Horrors until he goes mad. When his friend returns near morning to surprise him, the now-insane man removes a knife from the hand of a wax figure and stabs his friend to death. The short film ends with the man raving mad and clutching the knife over the corpse of his friend as police arrive. The simple setup of a character spending the night in the Chamber of Horrors became an essential component of many subsequent takes on the theme.

Figures de Cire (1914)
Figures de Cire was adapted from a play by André de Lorde and Georges Montignac which was first presented at Paris’s Grand Guignol Theatre in 1910. The play was adapted to prose by André de Lorde and published in English as “Waxworks” in the 1933 anthology Terrors: A Collection of Uneasy Tales, anonymously edited by Charles Birkin and published by Philip Allan. Interestingly, de Lorde’s “Waxworks” was reprinted as “The Waxwork Museum” and erroneously attributed to another French author, Gaston Leroux, author of The Phantom of the Opera (1910), in the 1980 collection The Gaston Leroux Bedside Companion, edited by Peter Haining, ostensibly based on a 1969 English translation but in reality a reprint from the story’s earlier appearance in Terrors.

Detail of cover illustration
by Victor Sevilla for a
1993 collection of 
André de Lorde's tales of
The Grand Guignol

            The lifelike qualities of wax dolls for children also inspired imaginative fictions. Among the earliest stories from the pen of prolific pulp writer Greye La Spina was “The Wax Doll,” from the August 1, 1919 issue of The Thrill Book. A young girl is denied by her parents the townspeople’s gift of a beautiful wax doll, inadvertently leading to the girl’s death in a snowstorm when she attempts to reach a woodshed where the doll is locked away. The girl’s ghost continues to visit the home of her grieving parents in an attempt to get the wax doll. The ghost is eventually put to rest when the doll is placed at the girl’s grave. La Spina’s gentle ghost story was reprinted in Avon Fantasy Reader no. 16 (1951), edited by Donald A. Wollheim, and in Unforgettable Ghost Stories by Women Writers, edited by Mike Ashley (Dover, 2008). Another gentle fantasy on the theme is “The Wax Doll and the Stepmother” by Olive Schreiner. Written in Schreiner’s youth, the story was collected posthumously in Stories, Dreams, and Allegories (T. Fisher Unwin, 1923).

Illustration by E.G. Oakdale for
W.L. George's "Waxworks: A Mystery"
The Strand Magazine, July, 1922

            English author W.L. George produced “Waxworks: A Mystery” for the July, 1922 issue of The Strand Magazine. A young couple, Henry and Ivy, take refuge from a rainstorm in a waxworks museum in a rundown area of London. The museum appears to be deserted though dust-covered wax figures remain on display in an upstairs room. There, Ivy sees a murder tableau which seems too real to be only wax, especially when she notices sweat break out on the murderer’s face. Henry and Ivy flee before rousing the attention of two nearby police officers and returning to the museum. In the upper room they discover that the figure of the murderer is indeed wax, though the body of the murdered old woman (the proprietor of the museum) and the blood which surrounds her body are very real. Who was the killer and where has he gone? “Waxworks: A Mystery” was reprinted, as “Waxworks,” in Return from the Grave, edited by Hugh Lamb (W.H. Allen, 1976), as well as in Strange Tales from the Strand, edited by Jack Adrian (Oxford, 1991), the latter of which featured the story on the book’s cover art. W.L. George is remembered by readers of supernatural fiction for one other story, “Perez” (1922), which has been reprinted in such notable anthologies as A Century of Ghost Stories (Hutchinson, 1936) and The Haunted Omnibus, edited by Alexander Laing (Farrar & Rinehart, 1937).

Waxworks (1924)
            The 1924 silent German film Waxworks utilized the anthology format to tell three tales of fantasy, adventure, and horror. A young poet is hired by the proprietor of a wax museum to write a narrative for three wax figures: Harun al-Rashid, Ivan the Terrible, and Jack the Ripper. The segment with Jack the Ripper is the final and briefest segment and finds the poet confronted with the wax figure come to life (revealed to be the figure from English folklore Spring-heeled Jack) to stalk him through the corridors of the museum. In a fashion somewhat typical of the time, the poet awakens to realize it has only been a dream. Waxworks was written by horror specialist Henrick Galeen, who scripted such notable German Expressionist films as The Golem (1915), Nosferatu (1922), and The Student of Prague (1926), and directed by Paul Leni, director behind such films as The Cat and the Canary (1927) and The Man Who Laughs (1928).

Illustration by G.O. Olinick
Weird Tales, Feb, 1927
            American pulp magazines, which flourished between the turn of the twentieth century and the late 1950s, were a showcase for every type of strange and fantastic tale, including tales of wax figures. Burton Harcourt’s “The Wax Image: A Weird Chinese Story” (Weird Tales, November, 1923) was a tale of revenge set in a New Orleans Chinatown. Victor Rousseau’s “The Fetish of the Waxworks” (Weird Tales, February, 1927) was the sixth chronicle of occult detective Dr. Ivan Brodsky, the “Surgeon of Souls.” A young French immigrant wax artist is menaced by the wax figure of British naval hero Horatio Nelson, whose undying hatred of the French manifests itself in the bodily possession of the gruff museum proprietor in an attempt to kill the young Frenchman. The Surgeon of Souls, the collected tales of Dr. Ivan Brodsky, appeared in 2006 from Spectre Library.

Illustration by Fred Banbery
for A.M. Burrage's "The Waxwork"
Alfred Hitchcock's Ghostly Gallery (1962)
            Perhaps the most famous tale of the terror of the waxworks appeared in the 1931 collection Someone in the Room by “Ex-Private X.” “The Waxwork” was written by the prolific English magazine writer A.M. Burrage and remains one of Burrage’s most oft-reprinted tales. “The Waxwork” concerns a newspaper reporter who spends a night in the Chamber of Horrors in order to write a feature story. The reporter cannot foresee, however, that the fugitive murderer Dr. Bourdette (a prototype of the Hannibal Lector sort) would be locked in with him when Bourdette assumed his wax figure’s place in order to evade police. The story has been reprinted dozens of times by such notable editors as Dorothy Sayers, Boris Karloff, and Robert Arthur. It has thrice been adapted for television, first on Lights Out (1950), starring John Beal and Nelson Olmstead, as well as for the fourth season (1959) of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, starring Barry Nelson and Everett Sloan, and as a three-part Spanish language miniseries, La figura de cera, in 1960. “The Waxwork” has also been adapted for radio on Suspense and multiple BBC programs. 

            Another tale, “Mrs. Raeburn’s Waxwork” by Lady Eleanor Smith, appeared in the March, 1931 issue of the London Mercury. Patrick Lamb, the new custodian of Mugivan’s Wax Exhibition, is transfixed by the beautiful figure of the famous poisoner, Mrs. Raeburn, in the Hall of Curiosities and Horrors. The figure seems to come alive with subtle smiles and mesmeric eyes. The figure soon begins to exert a spell over Lamb. During a transfixed moment, Lamb is interrupted by a veiled old woman who has wandered into the exhibit. Lamb gives the woman a tour of the gallery, eventually coming to the figure of Mrs. Raeburn. The old woman states that they haven’t gotten the likeness correct. Lamb asks if the old woman knew Mrs. Raeburn upon which the woman removes her veil to reveal a hideous, gargoyle-like visage. “I am Mrs. Raeburn,” she laughingly tells Lamb before vanishing.
Later in the night a fire is seen raging at the wax museum. Within, the figure of Mrs. Raeburn is nearly untouched, though the wax upon her face has slightly melted to create a hideous snarl. At the foot of the figure’s display is the charred remains of Patrick Lamb. The story was collected in Smith’s 1932 collection Satan’s Circus and Other Stories (Gollancz). It was reprinted in The Evening Standard Book of Strange Stories (Hutchinson, 1934).

            One of the more unnerving films of pre-code Hollywood was 1933’s Mystery of the Wax Museum, starring Lionel Atwill and Fay Wray, directed by Michael Curtiz. The film concerns wax sculptor Ivan Igor (Atwill) who survives a fire set by an unscrupulous business partner to reemerge as a master wax sculptor whose mind and body has been irreparably damaged. When the fiancé (Wray) of a worker at Igor’s wax museum uncovers his secret (Igor now prefers to cover real bodies with wax) Igor sets his aims on covering her with wax as his latest and greatest creation. It is also revealed (in a shock unmasking scene to rival Lon Chaney in The Phantom of the Opera) that Igor has fashioned a wax mask to cover his hideously burned face. The film was based on an unpublished story, “The Wax Works,” by screenwriter Charles S. Belden. Mystery of the Wax Museum was remade in 1953 as the 3-D film House of Wax, starring Vincent Price and Charles Bronson (as Charles Buchinsky), directed by Andre De Toth. The film was loosely remade a second time, again as House of Wax, in 2005.

            A notable novel on the theme is Ethel Lina White’s Wax (Collins, 1935), which concerns a reporter who spends a night in the Hall of Horrors to try and uncover who’s behind a series of deaths centered around the mysterious Riverpool Waxwork Gallery. White remains best-known for her novels Some Must Watch (1933), filmed in 1946 as The Spiral Staircase, and The Wheel Spins (1936), adapted for film by Alfred Hitchcock as The Lady Vanishes (1938).  
The crossroads between mystery and horror fiction also produced notable examples of the waxworks theme. Hugh B. Cave’s “Horror in Wax” (Thrilling Mysteries, April, 1935) is a Poe-esque tale of grisly revenge in which a husband imprisons his wife’s lover in a wine cellar while providing him with a companion, a wax figure in the form of the unfaithful wife. As the days go by, the lover clings to the wax figure for sanity until it is revealed in a hideous flourish that the wax conceals the decomposing body of the unfaithful wife.

         John Keir Cross's "Miss Thing and the Surrealist," from The Other Passenger (1944), tells of an artist named Kolensky who decorates his artist's loft with the body parts of a beautiful, yet headless, wax woman whom his friends call Miss Thing. Kolensky's new bride discovers the horrible truth about Miss Thing. She is not wax at all but the embalmed remains of Kolensky's first wife. 

Illustration by Virgil Finlay
for Robert Bloch's "Waxworks"
Weird Tales, Jan, 1939
            Robert Bloch’s “Waxworks” (Weird Tales, January, 1939) is set in France and concerns the wax figure of Salome holding the head of John the Baptist. The figure exerts a supernatural power over men who are compelled to “leave” their heads behind. It is revealed that the skeletal remains of a witch lay concealed beneath the wax. “Waxworks” was collected in Bloch’s first book, The Opener of the Way (Arkham House, 1945) and has also been collected as “Lady in Wax” in the UK collection Sea Kissed (1945). Bloch twice adapted the story for the screen, first for Boris Karloff’s Thriller in the second season episode directed by Herschel Daugherty (January 8, 1962) and again for the 1971 Amicus anthology film The House that Dripped Blood, directed by Peter Duffell.

Cover illustration by Josh Kirby
for The Night Side (Four Square Books, 1966)
illustrating Nelson Bond's "The Mask of Medusa"
             Nelson S. Bond’s “The Mask of Medusa,” which appeared in the December, 1945 issue of The Blue Book Magazine, concerns a murderer named Shaner who takes refuge in a wax museum and finds his way into the crime gallery. The odd appearance of the figures is explained by the proprietor of the museum, who reveals that his crusade against murderers and criminals requires the use of a very special figure, the head of Medusa, to turn evil men into stone. The unbelieving murderer is frozen by Medusa’s stare and added to the collection. Bond’s tale was reprinted by August Derleth in The Night Side (Rinehart, 1947), the 1966 Four Square paperback edition of which featured the story on the book’s cover art. The story was collected in Bond’s 1949 collection The Thirty-First of February, from Gnome Press. The story was twice adapted for television, first on Tales of Tomorrow in a second season episode starring Raymond Burr, and again for Boris Karloff’s Thriller, in the first season portmanteau episode “Trio for Terror,” directed by Ida Lupino with a story adaptation by Barré Lyndon (Alfred Edgar).

Detail of Al Feldstein's cover for a reprint of
Tales from the Crypt #25 (Sept, 1951)
            Pre-code American horror comics, which borrowed heavily from the pulp magazines and pre-code horror films, recycled through virtually every horror story type to fill the two-to-four story requirements of each monthly issue. The finest of the pre-code horror comics were those issued by EC Comics: The Crypt of Terror (later: Tales from the Crypt), The Vault of Horror, and The Haunt of Fear, titles which spawned numerous imitators and eventually became the focus of a senate subcommittee on the effects of horror and crime comics on juvenile delinquency (resulting in the creation of the dreaded Comics Code Authority). From the very start of their horror comics line EC saw the appeal of a waxworks story. The first story in the premier issue of The Vault of Horror (May, 1950) was “Portrait in Wax,” with a cover and story by writer/artist Johnny Craig. The story’s grisly climax borrows liberally from the aforementioned film, Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933). Tales from the Crypt #25 (Sept, 1951) featured another waxworks cover, this time by writer/editor Al Feldstein, for “The Works . . . In Wax,” illustrated by “Ghastly” Graham Ingels. Considering the huge number of horror comics on the stands at the height of the genre’s popularity in the early 1950s, there were undoubtedly many more examples of waxworks stories to found in those four-color pages.
            By the time “The New Exhibit” aired in the spring of 1963, the tale of terror in the waxworks was a long established subgenre of horror, fantasy, and mystery fiction, and works of film and literature continued to mine the story type well into the present day.             

            Despite a strong central performance from Martin Balsam, an occasionally excellent atmosphere, and a handful of unnerving moments, “The New Exhibit” never quite lives up to the promise of its premise. It is slow developing and predictable only to be crowned by a confused ending which leaves the viewer with more questions than answers. It remains an important episode as it marks Jerry Sohl’s arrival on the series and offers viewers a type of macabre mystery rarely seen on the show.   

Grade: C

*Named the Southern California School by Robert Kirsch (1922-1980), literary critic for the Los Angeles Times, the Group came to include an array of close friends and authors who coalesced around Charles Beaumont in the Los Angeles area in the late 1950s and into the 1960s. Members included Richard Matheson, William F. Nolan, George Clayton Johnson, John Tomerlin, Jerry Sohl, Charles E. Fritch, Chad Oliver, Ray Russell, and Harlan Ellison. The Group took their inspirations from writers of a generation before, primarily Ray Bradbury but also Robert Bloch and Theodore Sturgeon.

+This is essentially an inversion of Beaumont’s “Person or Persons Unknown.”

Grateful acknowledgement to:

-The Work of Charles Beaumont: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide (Bibliographies of Modern Authors, No. 6) by William F. Nolan (revised edition, Borgo Press, 1990)

-“Remembering Charles Beaumont” by Roger Anker (Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine, June, 1989)

-“Jerry Sohl: Multiple Memories, No Regrets” by Edward Gross (Starlog 135, Oct, 1988)

-"The Incredible Scripting Man: Richard Matheson Reflects on His Screen Career" by Matthew R. Bradley (The Twilight and Other Zones: The Dark Worlds of Richard Matheson, ed. Stanley Wiater, Matthew R. Bradley, and Paul Stuve (Citadel Twilight, 2009))

-The Twilight Zone Companion by Marc Scott Zicree (3rd edition, Silman-James, 2018)

-Filet of Sohl by Jerry Sohl, edited by Christopher Conlon (BearManor Media, 2003).

-The Twilight Zone Scripts of Jerry Sohl, edited by Christopher Conlon (BearManor Media, 2004)

-Psycho USA: Famous American Killers You Never Heard Of by Harold Schechter (Ballantine, 2012)

--Martin Balsam also appeared in the first season episode “The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine” and in the Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse production of Rod Serling’s “The Time Element.” Balsam later appeared in two episodes of the first Twilight Zone revival series (1985-1989) in the segments “Personal Demons” (season one) and “Voices in the Earth” (season two). He also appeared in the Playhouse 90 production of “Bomber’s Moon” and the films Seven Days in May (1964) and The Man (1972), all three of which were written by Rod Serling.
--Will Kuluva also appeared in the third season episode “The Mirror.”
--William Mims appeared in the second season segment of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery, “The Hand of Borgus Weems.”
--Marcel Hillaire also appeared in the second season episode “A Most Unusual Camera.”
--Robert L. McCord appeared in 66 additional episodes of the series, often as a stand-in or uncredited extra.
--Milton Parsons also appeared in uncredited roles in “Once Upon a Time” and “I Dream of Genie.” Parsons appeared in the second season segment of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery, “Camera Obscura.” 
--John Brahm directed twelve episodes of The Twilight Zone making him the program’s most prolific director. He is also the only director to work on all five seasons of the show.
--Jerry Sohl ghostwrote two additional episodes of the show under Charles Beaumont’s byline for the fifth season: “Living Doll” and “Queen of the Nile.”
--“The New Exhibit” was adapted into a Twilight Zone Radio Drama starring Jobe Cerny.
--Rod Serling nearly returned to the waxworks theme after the end of the series. When CBS cancelled The Twilight Zone after the fifth season, ABC was interested in bringing Rod Serling over for an anthology series on their network. Since CBS held the rights to The Twilight Zone name, a new series theme would have to be created. One of the ideas which nearly gained traction was Rod Serling's Wax Museum, which would have seen Serling tour a wax museum each week, stopping to present the story of one of the figures. Although this ABC series never came to fruition, the format was essentially replicated with Rod Serling's Night Gallery on NBC, replacing the wax museum setting for an art gallery. 

-JP & BD

Additional Images:

Illustration by E.G. Oakdale for W.L. George's "Waxworks: A Mystery"
The Strand Magazine, July, 1922

Detail of cover art by Mick Brownfield illustrating W.L. George's "Waxworks"
Strange Tales from the Strand (Oxford, 1991)

Uncredited cover illustration for Terrors (1933),
containing "Waxworks" by Andre de Lorde

Illustration by Leo & Diane Dillon for A.M. Burrage's "The Waxwork"
Great Short Tales of Mystery and Terror (Reader's Digest, 1982)

Detail of cover illustration by Johnny Craig for a reprint of The Vault of Horror #12 (April/May, 1950)

Detail of splash page by "Ghastly" Graham Ingels for a reprint of "The Works . . . In Wax"
Tales from the Crypt #25 (Sept, 1951)

Cover art by J.K. Potter