(1959/60 TV Show)
Episode: The Vine Of Death
Swedish and American production from 1959 saw seasoned horror legend Lon Chaney Jr. appear in, and headline as the host of televisions thirteen episode show, 13 Demon Street.
Lon Chaney Jr’s. character has been condemned at the premises of 13 Demon Street by hell itself, for all eternity. A punishment for sin that has been deemed as no greater outrage committed by any other mortal !. His earthly condemnation to find a crime more heinous and his terrible punishment will end.
Each episode starts with a suitably creepy intro, shot in applicable black and white, with a night time setting. A strong wind blows as thunder and lightning make their presence known. The camera pans in on a heavy wooden front door, its number, 13. The door opens and the camera glides in on through to be greeted by the resident of the premises, and host of the show, Lon Chaney Jr.
A short exchange from Lon Chaney Jr. with the viewing audience leads into the episode entitled, The Vine Of Death.
Frank is a mild mannered doctor who does research and works at the Natural History Museum. He and his wife live in a reasonably comfortable apartment block in Copenhagen. Friend and neighbour Wally is a handy man who helps them out with the odd job, but is lecherous towards Frank’s wife behind his back.
Frank has been preparing his internal green house by digging out a small plot to plant more of his samples that he is studying from the plant life world. Research at the Natural History Museum has given him the opportunity to study first hand a very rare, and long since petrified Malayan bulb some three to four thousand years old.
When Frank returns home unexpectedly one day from the museum, eager to plant the rare vine bulb from Malaya, he discovers Wally is sexually harassing his wife. Frank walks in on them as his wife pulls a knife on Wally. Frank tussles with Wally only to be inadvertently stabbed with the blade. Frank is killed by its incision !. Implicated in his death together, Wally and Frank’s wife decide to bury the body in the recently prepared greenhouse soil plot.
Frank’s disappearance for a few days is investigated by the police when he fails to turn up at the museum. Upon speaking to Frank’s wife at the apartment his disappearance is explained as him having walked out on her with no forwarding address. That evening the wife packs her belongings in order to get away. Wally is still pestering her and the same evening is in a drunken stupor. His inebriated state proves costly as he stumbles around in the hot house environment of Frank’s apartment and collapses unconscious atop of the site that Frank has been buried.
When Frank’s body was buried beneath the soil upon his person was the bulb of the museum categorised ‘Death Vine’. A plant that is attracted to heat, particularly that of living body heat !. During its period of plantation beneath the warm soil it has also benefited from the residual heath of the inert human body. The proximity of Wally’s body now produces even more body heat for it to draw upon. During the course of the evening the vine takes full advantage of its conductor and entangles its flourishing vines around Wally’s body. Wally is strangled to death !.
The following morning Frank’s wife is awoken by the police paying her another visit and together they discover Wally’s dead body. Further investigation unravels the truth behind Frank’s disappearance as his body too is uncovered beneath the soil.
A strange tale of love, lechery, betrayal and death. It just goes to prove that not all in life and love is ‘vine’ !.
13 Demon Street Details IMDB