Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Twonky (1953)

Arch Obler is best know for his Lights Out radio show which, if you're a Bill Cosby fan, was the source of one of his best routines, the one about listening to a horror story about a giant chicken heart. Yes the show was real as is the story about the chicken heart and it is rather creepy because Obler was a master story teller.

Obler not only wrote radio shows he was a filmmaker as well. If you want to blame anyone for 3D movies blame Obler who made BWANA DEVIL which single handedly kicked off the 3D boom in the 1950's.

The year after kicking off 3D Obler made THE TWONKY a scathing satire and an attack on television which was changing society in ways he didn't like.

The plot of the film has Hans Conried's wife going off on trip and in order to keep him company she buys him a TV. Unfortunately for Conried something has taken over the set and it is intent on regulating every moment of Conried's life.

At best an okay film, the humor is not particularly good and in retrospect the film has dated thanks to people stealing outright or coming to similar conclusions over the years since it was made.

I know my saying this makes you wonder why I would write the film up for Unseen, and the answer comes from the fact that  Obler's assault on TV from 1953 is still valid some sixty years on, only more so. Once you had to be at home to watch TV and you only had a handful of stations. Now you've got thousands of choices and if you have a smart phone the TV is always with you- there is no escape. It's very freaky to watch some of what goes down in this film and realize Obler was predicting things 60 years ago.

Why am I writing the film up? Because Obler's warnings about TV should be heeded even if we haven't been listening for 60 years.

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