Case Number 03387


VCI Home Video // 1960 // 324 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron (Retired) // October 3rd, 2003

The Charge

Will you dare to step beyond?

Opening Statement

Hey you, don't watch that! Watch this!
-- Madness, One Step Beyond

One of this critic's fondest memories in a life filled full like a steamer trunk is the long, languid five-hour drive between Tallahassee and Tampa, Florida, or between college and home respectively. These endless treks were a time for personal reflection and wild imaginative flights of fancy, of endless mix-tapes of '70s punk and '80s new wave combined with a never-ending horizon filled with infinite opportunities and usually stunning sunsets. But when the beautiful colored lights faded and the forests surrounding US 19 turned into walls of impenetrable night, a weird aura overtook the highway and my vehicle. The solitude that once seemed so welcomed now became isolating. Fear began to creep up the spine as thoughts of darting deer in the inevitable headlights or a reckless head fogged with fatigue made the growing darkness even more ominous. And as usual, the tape deck would jam or the batteries in the walkman would die out and suddenly, you were alone with your thoughts, the lost highway before you and a deranged brain of bubbling bad ideas acting as your navigator. To make matters worse, the only radio available for what seemed like hundreds of miles was a distant, distorted AM signal that apparently only broadcast one thing: The CBS Radio Mystery Theater. Recalling the old fashioned wireless wonders of The Inner Sanctum and Lights Out, these half-hour horror stories had the disturbing vibe of an expertly told campfire ghost story mixed with the atmospheric effect of broadcast transmissions that sounded like hellish voices from beyond the grave. They were unsettling, chilling, and better than a box of Vivarin and a six-pack of RC Cola. Now, thanks to VCI, a similar experience can be had with One Step Beyond. This 12-episode packaging of the 1959-61 anthology series' second season recalls what made CBSRMT so effective: good stories with great writing, told in a professional manner. Not everything works here, but when it does, it's wonderfully creepy stuff.

Facts of the Case

From 1959 until 1961, Merwin Gerard, a seasoned writer of many radio shows, had the idea of creating an anthology series that focused on the supernatural. Conceived around the same time and in direct competition with The Twilight Zone (which also began in 1959 on CBS), Gerard's concept was to fictionalize real stories of people's encounters with the unexplainable and bizarre. Scouring newspapers and journals for this reality based fare, he sold the idea to ABC and One Step Beyond soon found itself on the network's fall schedule. Hoping to add an air of authenticity to the show, Gerard hired John Newland as host and occasional actor. Newland came across as a mannered and intelligent man who introduced these tales of the strange and spectacular with a calm tact that seemed to suggest truthfulness. For the next three years, the duo (along with dozens of writers, performers, and directors) brought to the small screen a dialogue-heavy dissertation on subjects like voodoo, ghosts, out of body experiences, and E.S.P. In some ways it was a cross between In Search of and a standard thriller series, offering token bits of factual explanation to cover some of the more melodramatic moments.

The episodes on this two-disc DVD presentation (individual plots will be discussed separately) represent the middle section of the second season of One Step Beyond. This seems an odd place to start (there are some other DVD presentations of the series that present a few choice "greatest hits" style episodes only), but there is really nothing lost from jumping right into the middle. One good thing is that by this time, the show was established, the format set, and the initial kinks worked out. On the down side, there are only so many stories of this type to tell and you get the feeling that some of these episodes are based on second or third tier ideas that were probably done better in the first season. Still, it's fair to say that the episodes here represent a good sampler of One Step Beyond's brand of thriller television.

The Evidence

When it's done right, with care and intelligence, there is no better entertainment forum than science fiction or the supernatural. Now most people hear that combination of words and cringe, thinking of clunky robots and twee aliens rummaging around an artificial futuristic set filled with blinking lights and strange electronic noises. Or worse, cobweb-filled haunted houses where overacting chuckleheads shout at anything that moves. And indeed, some of the best television science fiction/horror in the last few decades has suffered from such technical and aesthetic limitations. Still, there is no denying that for every green greasepaint space lady or flying rubber omelet, Star Trek's original series offered more thought-provoking entertainment wrapped in a universal message of understanding and peace than all other space operas before it. Earlier in that same decade, The Twilight Zone offered its own talented tales of the unexpected, occasionally tainted by poor acting and even worse effects. But they worked because of the extraordinary effort made to fill them with imagination and invention. Indeed, nothing kills the concept of horror and fantasy faster than reality. The minute you introduce the real world into shows like this, there is a tendency for them to fall apart, to hobble under their own fictional foundations and bow to the present tense. Actually, not every insertion of pragmatism ruined a good science fiction or supernatural thriller. But it's hard to see how something that is supposed to be couched in its own ethereal terms can work within the realm of the nine-to-five drudgery of small-town/big-city life.

One Step Beyond stands out because it wants to flaunt its "reality" basis. Unlike the fictional fantasies foisted upon a gullible public in other paranormal shows, this spook spectacular wanted to emphasis the "true life" nature of the stories being told. Similar to Ripley's Believe It or Not in that there was an international flavor and sense of global perspective to the show, One Step Beyond tried to outdo Rod Serling and his artistic anthology by saying "this could and did happen." Occasionally, this would all come across very "Criswell," he with his fey, forced Plan 9 threats of "can you prove that it didn't happen." Indeed, John Neuland and Merwin Gerard tended to function in an "I dare you" vacuum, where their word, no matter how outlandish (or, in most cases, mundane), was the apple of gold on the subject of telepathy or superstitions or astral projection. They took it seriously, and hoped to instill said same gravity into you as well. This resulted in a real ghost story quality to these tales, a kind of urban legend morality asking us to accept the hidden realm of the supernatural as a philosophical dealer in karmic alignment. When the shows work, they work extremely well, providing suspense and foreboding in an expertly conceived 25 minutes of professional storytelling. When it goes out of whack, however, One Step Beyond becomes an incredibly dated goof, the kind of show that appears to forward a flat-earth, photographic-pixies perspective. One of the reasons it's not as well respected as The Twilight Zone or even its bastard cousin, Night Gallery, is that these shows are more thought provoking than spine tingling. Even when they offer a shock ending, the effect is usually less alarm and more "I see."

Of the 12 shows offered in this DVD presentation, there are no real howlers, no stinkers that set your sensibilities to "shun" and your cheese meter to "stench." A couple of them actually make for very compelling, entertaining tales of terror. But more times than not, One Step Beyond can't seem to find the apropos avenue upon which to sell its wares of pragmatism. When dealing with certain subjects like hypnosis ("The Ordeal on Locust Street") or precognition ("To Know The End"), the show is all vague and vacant. But other times, they sell notions like out of body visitations ("The Explorer") and voices from beyond the grave ("Anniversary of a Murder") very well. Invidivually, here is what you can expect from this DVD package.

Disc One:

* "Delusion" (9/15/1959): The police track down a meek tax consultant who's dropped out of society. A young lady needs a transfusion, and without his rare blood type, she will die. He refuses. He tells the officer that every time he has given blood in the past, he becomes psychically linked with the recipient. He has then seen said people blessed with wealth. He has also seen people killed. Pressure is placed on him and he eventually relents. The young woman recovers. One day, the accountant has a vision that she will die. There are indeed several close calls where she almost does. He finally convinces her to move in with him and as the days pass, he becomes overprotective and obsessive. Eventually, when she comes home drunk, they have a huge fight. She threatens to leave and he chokes her.

* "Delusion" sets the standard for what most of One Step Beyond is: talky episodes filled with detailed characters and subtle intrigue. Like the works of O Henry, there seems to be an implied twist at the end, some manner of "ah ha" moment where the cleverly duped audience finally gets to put two and two together. Most of the acting is intense and melodramatic. And starting and ending each episode is the stoic, near British diction of John Newland, trying to convince us that everything we have just seen is based in undeniable truth. As this applies to "Delusion" specifically, we get a little too much exposition at the beginning, as if we really have to set up this man and his blood-linked ESP for the audience to get the rest of the tale. Once Suzanne Pleshette shows up looking appropriately trampy, events take a nice turn toward the intense and tragic. If only the setup were a little less verbose, this would be a stellar segment in the series. Score: 80

* "Ordeal on Locust Street" (9/22/1959): A turn of the century family lives with a horrible secret. Their only son has a rare disease, which has rendered his features horribly fish-like. Father wants to ship the mutation to a hospital for half-wits. Sister loses yet another fiancé after the baffled beau stumbles upon the cruel visage. Mother defends the boy even though he is destroying everyone's life. Desperate for answers, she turns to a disgraced doctor who practices hypnotism. He thinks he can help. Months go by as the doctor tries to cure the boy. At Christmas, Father has news. He has signed the papers to commit the boy. Mother will not hear of it and takes a gun from out of a desk drawer. Just then, the door opens and the doctor appears. The boy is cured.

* "Ordeal on Locust Street" poses a dilemma for the viewer. We constantly hear, over and over, how deformed and bizarre the boy's image is, how fishlike and heinous he looks. Yet we only get one fleeting glance, a first person POV look at the arms. Yes, they are covered in scaly growths and are rather reprehensible, but the shot is brief and may just be too subtle. In the end, when he is cured and turns up looking rather rosy cheeked and none the worse for wear, you're left wondering how horrible he really was. Now, if you have a generous imagination, you can fill in the Creature from the Black Lagoon blanks. But if that's the case, then why try and visualize him at all. Revert back to the radio roots of the show and let us create everything in our minds. It's hard to blame a show from 50 plus years ago for not providing more effect shots or man-in-a-mask moments, but when you have something as inherently interesting as "fishboy," it might be to your benefit to at least try and produce him. As a result, "Ordeal" is like one big set-up and payoff that misses the money shot in the middle. Score: 80

* "Brainwave" (10/06/1959): During a particularly nasty battle in the Pacific, a US warship is hit and the captain is badly injured. A drunken, grief-stricken sailor is the only member of the medical staff on board who can possibly perform a delicate life-saving operation on the officer. The crew finds a surgeon on another ship and via two-way radio hook-up, the real doctor walks the woozy, reluctant cutter through the process. And it looks like the Captain will pull through. But just then, the real MD's boat is hit. There is a momentary drop in communication. The sailor hears the real doc back on the air, helping him finish the procedure. When another officer comes to check on the situation, he finds the operation completed. But there is a catch. Seems the ship containing the real doctor was sunk five minutes before. Apparently, the last few instructions came from beyond the grave.

* "Brainwave" is an example of where the whole is better than the parts. Scattered throughout the story are stereotypes, generalizations, and coincidences. But when meshed all together into a teleplay, they seem to work surprisingly well. Perhaps it's the decision to leave all the elements hanging, allowing us to wonder what the big deal is regarding the drunken sailor, the surgeon, and the operation until the reveal at the end. It definitely piques the audience's interest as to what will happen next. Combined with some good performances and clever stock footage inserts, an atmosphere of desperation and anger is quickly established and helps the episode, ultimately, to succeed. Score: 83

* "Doomsday" (10/13/1959): With his son suffering on his deathbed, an angry Baron calls upon the most famed doctors in Europe to cure his boy. They chalk up the lad's illness and eventual death to witchcraft. The father recalls a young woman who is called before the court and convicted of being a witch. She is burned at the stake. Just before she is taken away, she curses the Baron's family: the firstborn of every generation will die before the father does. And as time passes, the firstborn son of each succeeding generation does indeed die before his father. It's now the 50s and a young man stands vigil at his dying father's bedside. He is nervous because his parent is moments away from the hereafter and the curse has yet to occur. He is the firstborn son. A doctor and the young man's wife try to console him. Time drags on and he gets more and more agitated. Finally, his wife gives him the news. His father passed away. The curse is lifted. The youth goes to his father's bedside to make peace. But it turns out that the old man is still alive. The startle of seeing his father's body move sends the son over a balcony and down to the ground, to his death. The wife had lied to him.

The problem with "Doomsday" is that it is as bipolar as an episode of television can get. The first half tells the histrionics-filled tale of the bombastic Baron and his sad son obsession. And while it takes up far too much screen time, it is perhaps needed to establish the whole curse angle. But just when you think the scenery chewing couldn't get any more manic, along comes the modern story and we achieve a whole new level of performance chaos. Our young male lead is just so bouncing-off-the-scenery insane that at a certain point, we really wouldn't mind if he died. And we all know how this is going to end. One Step Beyond is a show about the supernatural. So what would be so inventive about having a curse that didn't work? The show only succeeds if the firstborn dies. How it is all handled at the end is a little far-fetched. But at least the death, not the reasons behind it, is a surprise. Score: 78

* "The Inheritance" (10/27/1959): A wealthy Countess in Mexico keeps two different individuals on a very short leash. One is her much younger rouge of an Irish gigolo boyfriend. The other is her shy, sheepish German maid. One night, while helping her dress, the young woman watches as the old witch keels over and dies. She does nothing to help her. When the will is read, the lothario is left in the lurch. Seems he had a mistress tucked away somewhere and the creepy crone knew all about it. All the money and a beautiful diamond necklace are bequeathed to the servant. Fast-forward a few weeks and the newly rich young lady tries to seduce the miserable ex-kept man. But then she too falls down dead, the necklace seeming to strangler her. Glad to have the jewels for himself, the letch gives the bauble to his Mexican babe. But as she puts it on, she too is choked. Turns out the necklace is cursed and no one will be able to wear it and live to tell about it.

The most interesting ingredient in this show is the incredibly bizarre performance by "Mrs. Olson" herself, Virginia Christine, as the put-upon maid and eventual heiress of the jewels. She wavers between horny hellcat and delicate little silk flower so convincingly that she's like a porno version of a Tennessee Williams heroine. For the 20 minutes that the story is about her and her pent-up sexual frustrations, "The Inheritance" is a decent diversion. But the minute we focus on the gigolo or the incredible stop motion "haunted" necklace, the show kind of falls apart. We get very little preparation for why the Countess would "spook" her jewels and the freeze frame moments of movement seem oddly out of place. This is a simple story made strange by the inclusion of a weird method performance and a choker from Hell. Score: 82

* "The Explorer" (03/15/1960): A German geographer gets an unexpected visit from a renowned explorer. He wants to discuss the man's son. But the boy is dead and the memory is very painful. But the adventurer insists, since he swears he met the young man before. The visitor explains that while he was in the Sahara, he and his traveling party were stranded. As they were about to die, they ran into a young man and together they traveled to a supposed oasis. When they found the water supply dried up, the boy explained about another area further away. Unfortunately, he died before they could reach salvation. The parents, listening to this story, tell the traveler that it was quite impossible; their son had been paralyzed from the waist down since he was 12, and during the man's desert experience, the lad was bedridden. Funny thing was, when he did die, the doctor concluded that the youth had succumbed to massive dehydration. Like he had been in an arid wasteland for months.

For some reason, be it the setting or the acting, this is one of the finer moments of One Step Beyond. There is a level of desperation provided in the performances, and the monochrome image sells the desert swelter very well. The story also doesn't play its entire hand up front. It allows the supernatural aspect to slowly work its way into the piece. While the ending is a little pat and obvious, it too works surprisingly well. Overall, "The Explorer" is one of the better episodes on this DVD collection. Score: 88

Disc Two:

* "The Clown" " (03/22/1960): An incredibly jealous man takes his much younger trophy wife out for a night of drinks, dancing, and envious rages. The flighty young Miss becomes fascinated with a mute clown from a local carnival. He too likes her, especially her pretty hair. When the husband sees this, he goes bonkers. She runs off into the night. Eventually, she hides out in the clown's trailer. When the goof in greasepaint returns, he tries to console her. But when the insane spouse sees them in the caravan, he stabs his wife to death leaving the clown to take the rap. Indeed, some of the carnival people see the funnyman sitting with the dead girl in his arms. As the husband tries to escape, he starts to see strange images of the clown in every reflection he passes, gloved hands getting ready to close around his neck. Eventually, when passing over a river, he looks down into the water and sees the clown again. He falls in and almost drowns. The clown is taken in by the police and is cleared of the charges.

Clowns, in general, are incredibly creepy and the fact that we never once hear the harlequin in this show speak (he is apparently a mute) adds to the eeriness. We can tell he is capable of great kindness (helping the abused young woman), but those ethereal visits on the murderous spouse are indeed disturbing. Up until the very end, when we are left with a voice over narrative wrap-up to explain what happens (it would have been much clearer to just see it), this is an effective, if a little over-the-top (this is one JEALOUS husband) segment. Score: 81

* "Delia" (05/03/1960): In a hot tropical paradise, a jaded American drowns his sorrows in alcohol and self-pity. While wondering into the jungle, he runs into Delia, a beautiful and mysterious young woman. They fall instantly in love and spend a few quiet, romantic nights together. Delia keeps feeling that this all has happened before, perhaps in a dream. After a very tender evening, Delia disappears into a hotel room. When he knocks on the door, another woman answers. It's as if she vanished into thin air. After an unsuccessful trip back to America, he returns to the island where he spends eight more years in a drunken depression. One night he drowns. A local British ex-patriot wanders into the jungle. He runs into Delia. She is visiting the island for the first time. But she did dream about being somewhere like it and spending time with a man...eight years before.

The ethereal love story: it just doesn't work here. Partly because 25 minutes is not long enough to set up such an obsessive, across-time love affair, but also because there is zero chemistry between the leads. We don't buy the whirlwind romance and therefore don't accept the supposed devastating consequences. It's hard to see what the man has missed for all this time and why the young lady appears so nonplused. The supernatural aspect is weak, and overall the show feels like a tired, melodramatic romance with a little ghost story thrown in. Score: 50

* "House of the Dead" (06/07/1960): A young British army officer is stationed in Hong Kong. He has fallen in love with a pretty Asian woman. Before he is to be shipped back home, he asks her to marry him. She says no. She is afraid of the race issue. But after some pressuring, she relents. The next morning, the officer arrives to pick her up and she has gone. Frantic, he searches for her. Finding nothing and with just a few hours to go before he has to leave, he seeks the advice of a street fortuneteller. The seer says she is in one of the many houses of the dead in the city, places where the ill and despondent can go to die. Desperate, he again starts his search. A strange rickshaw driver picks him up and takes him directly to a location that seems familiar. When he enters, he finds his fiancé, who is a nurse in the facility. She agrees to go away to England with him. Before they leave, she checks one more time on a patient who has recently died. It is the rickshaw driver.

Again, here is an episode with too much loving and not enough spooky stuff. The first 10 minutes are taken up with the whole "will she or won't she marry him" routine. The last 10 minutes are the desperate search for the lost girl. In the five minutes remaining we have to cram in the paranormal premise, some army red tape, and an Asian fortuneteller straight out of the Charlie Chan School of oriental tolerance. This is a little more successful than "Delia," if only because the romance is based in reality, but in the end, the twist is not triumphant and the whole thing feels limp and underdeveloped. Score: 60

* "Tidal Wave" (08/30/1960): A huge tidal wave is about to hit Hawaii. A young bride who is wheelchair bound discovers that she is in the direct path of destruction. She tries to reach her husband but he is at his job miles away. She calls to neighbors but they have already evacuated. Panicking, she struggles to the front lawn where her chair overturns. Desperate, she yells for help but apparently no one hears her. Fatigued, she waits for the inevitable, whispering for someone to rescue her. At the same exact time, a partially deaf businessman driving around the neighborhood clearly hears a young woman yell for help. He pulls up to the woman's driveway and saves her. They both make it to safety just as the wall of water hits.

This could have been better. With some more attention to detail and a better director's hand, this tale of impending doom could have been a real nail biter. As it stands, it's more of a "how will the wheelchair woman be rescued" versus "if she will" scenario. The deaf businessman seems like an incredibly accidental bit of daffiness, a question of "right place at necessary time," but he is far more burlesque than believable. But the show does win points for interviewing the actual real life person whose story this episode was based on. Even though her words come across as staged and written out in advance, it adds that factual spark that sells the series' basic premise. Score: 80

* "Anniversary of a Murder" (09/27/1960): A businessman is busy dictating an important letter. When he plays it back, he hears a voice screaming bloody murder. We flash back to a year earlier. Seems the man was having an affair with a married friend and during a night of drunken merriment, they ran a young man on a bicycle off the road. He dies right in front of them, screaming. They both agree to cover up the horrible event and never speak of it. And for one year, to the date, they never do. They have never been caught. But when the voice comes blaring from the office machine, the woman now wants to confess. Desperate, the man leaves the office. He is run off the road by a bicyclist and killed.

Another stellar example of how One Step Beyond can get it right sometimes. The episode starts out innocuously enough, but the minute the haunted Dictaphone comes into play, the show starts to cascade wildly to its satisfying finale. Sure, the flashback has all the martini and regrets of your standard married couple adultery material from the era, but we do feel their shock and horror at the crime they are involved in, and the actors do a good job of showing how a year of stress and anxiety really changes them. While there are some continuity issues (the voice on the tape is not always the same, and it definitely doesn't belong to the accident victim) and a rather "deus ex machina" style ending, this is a very good episode. Score: 85

* "To Know the End" (11/01/1960): While visiting a French seaside cottage, a young British woman has a vision. A young man dies before her eyes. As he does, he calls her name. Fast forward a few weeks and she meets the man in her vision. She is attracted to him, but is also afraid of getting involved because of the premonition. Eventually, the couple is engaged and marries. Sure enough, the UK is dragged into World War II and the young man becomes an officer in the army. He is stationed at various places around the globe, and each time a new assignment comes, the young woman waits for the combination of date and locale that will mean his certain death. Finally, the man has good news. He will be shipping out to a location far from France on a date much later than in the dream. But as he prepares to leave, he confesses. He is actually going to the exact location of the hallucination. The young lady tries to prevent it from happening by causing a car crash. She wakes from a coma a few days later to learn the awful truth. Her premonition was correct.

This show starts out fascinating and ends up whiny and dull. Basically another "setting the wheels of fate in motion" style premonition saga, the minute our leads run into each other in the library, we know how this story will start (they won't want to date), meander (will there or won't there be a war) and end (he lies about where he will be fighting to save her nerves). Unless the actors are exceptional (and here they are only perfunctory) we end up with a rather dull, lifeless tale. Too bad: there is potential here. But it just doesn't pan out. Score: 65

VCI's presentation of this series has some serious issues. First and foremost is the multi-generation, less than syndication quality of the full frame black and white images. These are some of the most washed out transfers to come out from a major DVD company. There is an elaborate menu and preview screen set up that champions VCI's work in the area of science fiction and the supernatural. Compared to the CGI detail of the introductions and menu screen, these shows are a scandal. The transfers are blurry and faded and occasionally show obvious age defects. Once in a while, we get a fairly clean and non-compromised image. But more times than not, watching One Step Beyond digitally is reminiscent of what it must have been to sit back and see the series, first run, on an old Philco vacuum tube terror. Sonically, these mono shows offer nothing for the aural enthusiast. And the only extras we get are a PR puff piece for VCI's other DVD releases and a scroll-through biography of John Neuland. There is a nice essay by Tom Weaver as part of the insert, but it only goes to highlight the missed opportunity here. One Step Beyond is a decent show, a trendsetter in a lot of ways, that is basically given a glorified bare bones release with little or no context or content. While it's nice to have these 12 shows, there are a lot of questions raised by this release that VCI just doesn't want to address. If the show is a video benchmark, why give it such a paltry presentation? And if it's a cult classic with a limited following, why release it at all?

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Look, a goofy show is a goofy show, no two ways around it. And if that so-called talking dog that Disney is so proud of wants a cousin to complain about, here is One Step Beyond to satisfy his genetic mandates. One Step Beyond is just plain ridiculous. It plays like every Twilight Zone parody you've ever seen, except someone forgot the satire. It takes itself 'oh so' seriously whether it's talking about dying doctors in World War II or the ribald ranting of an boorish Baron. But it can't escape the fact that each episode is a television show written as radio play and if there is one thing that kills tension it's rambling pages of expositional dialogue. Occasionally, you'll want to shout at the screen for everyone to simply shut up and let the poltergeist appear. And another thing: a show about the spooky and supernatural doesn't need a host whose overall demeanor is like that of a detached dandy. John Neuland announces every show as if he is about to contact Lord Mountbatten for an invitation to tea. He is more a void valet than a tantalizing prologue provider. Add to this the oddity inclusion of old Alcoa Aluminum ads (which sells the metal wrap like a housewife's instant handy happiness), and you've got something that just doesn't scream scary. The point of One Step Beyond may be to explore the realms of the unreal with a decidedly straightforward approach. But for something this based in reality, it sure seems like overwrought rejects from Playhouse 90.

Closing Statement

While many people have praised the DVD for its ability to present favorite films, forgotten gems, and fading classics on the digital format for future generations, what does it say about the medium when the biggest growth seems to be in niche television titles? Add One Step Beyond to the list of lost product seeing the light of day thanks to the laser revolution. Unless you caught the show in its original incarnation or watched it when it was syndicated, you probably never heard of it and probably don't care. But don't let the lack of familiarity shy you away. Something like One Step Beyond is the last television series this critic could ever imagine recommending. And yet, like those lonely car trips along Florida's back roads, there is something nostalgic and endearing about it, especially when it tries to differentiate itself from the rest of the self-styled horror and sci-fi shows of the time. But like those old, broken transmissions of the CBS Radio Mystery Theater wandering across the airwaves of America, One Step Beyond offers that same creepy sensation of listening in on the private secrets of the supernatural. It might not have always been completely engaging or exciting, but it does offer a tantalizing throw back to a more innocent, yet inventive, time for episodic series. So dim the lights, bundle up nice and cozy near the hearth, and listen as John Neuland tells you a few fireside tales of the unexpected. These shows are guaranteed to move you One Step Beyond.

The Verdict

One Step Beyond is found not guilty of being a complete waste of DVD time. It is, however, found guilty of the lesser-included crime of suffering from dated, overwritten scenarios and is sentenced to 30 days in the Twilight Zone Section of Suspense Prison. VCI is found guilty of providing a less than stellar digital presentation and mostly bare bones product and is sent to the Bonus Content Correctional Facility until such time as this court feels it is ready to own up to professional DVD manufacturing. Court dismissed.

Review content copyright © 2003 Bill Gibron; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 75
Audio: 75
Extras: 30
Acting: 85
Story: 80
Judgment: 83

Perp Profile
Studio: VCI Home Video
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)

* None

Running Time: 324 Minutes
Release Year: 1960
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* John Newland Biography
* Essay on One Step Beyond by Film Critic Tom Weaver
* Trailers for Other VCI Offerings

* IMDb