Before THE X FILES, There Was THE NORLISS TAPES From Dan Curtis Of DARK SHADOWS, TRILOGY OF TERROR & THE NIGHT STALKER Roy Thinnes stars as David Norliss, an investigative reporter writing a book exposing supernatural hoa... more »xes and paranormal phenomena. But after a frightened phone call to his publisher, Norliss disappears leaving only a stack of cassettes on which he?s dictated his strange findings. When a wealthy widow (Angie Dickinson) is attacked by the crazed corpse of her recently deceased husband, Norliss discovers a horrific case of empty crypts, blood-drained corpses and occult violence. What is the significance of an ancient Egyptian scarab? Who is completing a bizarre sculpture in the dead man?s studio? And what has happened to David himself? The terrifying answers ? and shocking truth ? may lay hidden in THE NORLISS TAPES. Vonetta McGee (BLACULA) and Claude Akins co-star in this landmark pilot produced and directed by Dan Curtis (DARK SHADOWS, THE NIGHT STALKER) and written by William F. Nolan (LOGAN?S RUN, BURNT OFFERINGS) that fans still call one of the most frightening made-for-TV movies of the decade.« less
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 10/24/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A long time favorite of mine "The Norliss Tapes" finally arrives on DVD in a very nice transfer but without any extras to speak of. Although it's a cut or two below "The Night Stalker" Curtis uses many of the same techniques to tell his story here about psychic investigator and writer David Norliss(Roy Thinnes from "The Invaders" and later a guest star on "The X-Files") has disappeared after investigating the strange case of a man who seemingly has come back from the dead. Unlike Kolchak in "The Night Stalker" Norliss is out to discredit the supernatural until he encounters Helen Court(Angie Dickinson). James Court her husband has died but he appears to have come back. Norliss disappears shortly after starting work on his book. His worried publisher shows up at Norliss' place and ends up listening to the story and we, in turn, hear Norliss tell the bizarre tale of James Court.
Although "The Norliss Tapes" hasn't aged as well as some other films from the same era it still manages to induce a few chills and be entertaining. Directed by Dan Curtis ("Dark Shadows", producer of "The Night Stalker" and director of "Trilogy of Terror")the film was originally a pilot for a TV series but plays just as well as a stand alone film. We never find out what happened to Norliss and the tale does indeed creep us out. Although not as well written as "The Night Stalker" or "Trilogy of Terror"(both scripted by Richard Matheson and Matheson with William F. Nolan respectively)Nolan's script of the Fred Mustard Stewart story has enough jolts to make the TV film memorable.
I am disappointed that Anchor Bay didn't give this film the complete care they gave cult classics like "Race with the Devil"; although Curtis is no longer with us Thinnes is around as is Dickinson and both could have been contacted for a commentary track at the very least. Also it would have provided the perfect opportunity for Anchor Bay to do a featurette on Curtis who was the consumate TV director working in a variety of genres (he directed "The Winds of War", "War and Rememberence" in addition to "The Night Strangler" and other horror projects)and creating memorable work.
Although "The Norliss Tapes" isn't quite as successful as Curtis' other projects from the time it's still enjoyable and has enough creepy atmosphere to make it worthwhile. A warning to fans of gore driven horror films--this film is not into gore and it's scary moments will seem tame compared to most theatrical films like "The Hills Have Eyes" or "Saw" but it's from another era where acting and suspense were more important than gore for the sake of gore.
I'm happy to finally have this on DVD now I'm hoping that Anchor Bay can license "Night Slaves" a great little sci-fi thriller directed by Ted Post. Many of these vintage 70's films are getting the loving care that they deserve (and I have no complaints whatsoever about Anchor Bay's transfer the film looks surprisingly good)so I'm hoping that either Anchor Bay or Dark Sky will continue to mine the vaults for these minor gems."
In The House Of Sargoth He Waits
Brian E. Erland | Brea, CA - USA | 10/22/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I find it odd that this television pilot film has languished in obscurity for so long. 'The Norliss Tapes' first appeared on the T.V. screen in '73 by Dan Curtis who gave us the wildly success cult classic `The Night Stalker' in '72. Maybe it was simply too similar to the earlier film to capture the attention of the audience.
Synopsis: A psychic investigator David Norliss (Roy Thinnes) is asked to look into the mysterious circumstances involving the recent death of a local California artist and his reported appearance to his widowed wife (Angie Dickenson) shortly after the funeral. When the highly spectial Norliss discovers an empty coffin and learns of a series of grisly, ongoing murders in the surrounding community he slowly begins to postulate the impossible.
I must admit I'm pleased to see this buried and all but forgotten gem from the `70's finally available on DVD so it can be rediscovered and enjoyed by a new audience of horror fans. Not quite on par with `The Night Stalker' but it doesn't miss by much. I love the ending, it's extremely disquieting and Lovecraftian in mood and atmosphere. The film offered the perfect opportunity for a sequel, but unfortunately it wasn't meant to be. Give it a look."
WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO DAVID NORLISS ??
The Critic | Windsor | 12/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"From the creative mind of Dan Curtis comes the 1973 made for television movie "The Norliss Tapes". This was actually the pilot intended for "The Norliss Tapes" television series, sadly the show wasn't picked up by NBC Studios and we can only wonder what could have been? Anchor Bay has done a remarkable job with the video and sound transfer of this DVD release.
The picture is spectacular and the original 2.0 sound albeit in mono is clean and crisp. After all these years "The Norliss Tapes" is still creepy and highly entertaining. This is one movie I would love to see rise from the ashes and be reborn into a new television series. In 1969 Dan Curtis tried to create a show based on the investigations of a paranormal investigator with a pilot called "In the Dead of Night" sadly it never saw the light of day. After all these years one question still remains, what ever happened to David Norliss?
The Cast: Roy Thinnes ...David Norliss Angie Dickinson ...Ellen Sterns Cort Nick Dimitri ...James Raymond Cort Claude Akins ...Sheriff Tom Hartley Vonetta McGee ...Mme. Jeckiel Don Porter ...Sanford T. Evans (publisher)
Dan Curtis film and series
paul ramone | usa | 09/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This little film was released at the time of Kolchack the night stalker series and is quite good ,although it is very close to previous horror films made for TV.Norliss is a writer investigating the supernatural and trying to debunk theories of witchcraft/monsters etc....but meets a true walking dead man in Angie Dickinson's dead husband.He is making a sculpture of a demon with blood and clay to bring it to life.David Norliss ruins the plan along the way in this Robert Cobert/Dan Curtis film both associated with Dark Shadows 60s tv show and his series of Night stalker/strangler films.Not as good as those 2 features but it will satisfy an audience who loves dark tv movies from early 70s.Another Dan Curtis film is Scream of the Wolf 1974 with Clint Walker and Peter Graves that would be used as similiar type of film.It has narration by Norliss and is not as effective as Darren McGavin in Night Stalker but oh well??? enjoy"
"Tonight On The A.B.C. Tuesday Movie Of The Week!" Part 2
John D. Page | usa | 04/18/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is one that I have been looking for a very long time. It was one of the better forays into horror that T.V. movies of the 70's frequently did at that point(1973 to be exact) and brought to us by Dan (The Night Stalker,Dark Shadows) and it still holds up well, If not as good as those. Norliss(Roy Thinnes,good as always) is looking to prove psychic things and the supernatural are just a load of junk. As the movie starts Norliss is missing and his Boss finds these tapes he has left behind about what he found while looking into the case of James Court an artist that just died and has been seen by his wife still in his studio. What follows is a tale of many different types of vampires, demons, and evil. This is very well done and acted. The whole cast is made up of some of the 70's best T.V. actors and the script is very literate and uses vampire lore that we don't hear that much about. This one is also not one for the younger kids in the house. Even for a 70's T.V. movie it is still very intense. A real Blast From The Past."