You may have already noticed the gap between my other reviews and this one. It is because of my extreme reluctance to acknowledge that this episode exists. Its not because it was poorly written, but its because of the failure of the production design and some unfortunate chronology.
‘The Dummy ‘ is about Clyde Boyd, a horror movie actor who plays the Dummy, the antagonist in a series of films. Clyde has a meltdown sudden in the middle of the film and neither the director Sidney Stewart or the producer ‘Bunny’ Nettleton knows what’s happening, until they find out to their consternation, that Peter Wager, the actor they’d hired for a bit part, has stolen Clyde’s wife and child, and is none too gracious about it.
At the same time, a persistent PR flack has brought reporter Joan Eastgate to the set promising her access to Clyde, even though that isn’t possible, even before his breakdown. And Clyde is most certainly breaking down, drinking himself into a stupor backstage. Because of the tight shooting schedule, the film is at stake, as prominent (and oblivious) star Sir Ramsey is leaving the next day and his scenes must be shot. The suit is custom made so no one else can wear it, and Wager won’t take a buyout to simply leave as seeing Clyde suffer is simply too entertaining for him.
While this is all going on, Joan makes her way to Bunny. During their conversation, she talks abstractly about masks, sublimation and how certain ‘primitive’ cultures reconcile the two. Bunny is barely paying attention, but faced with the movie that is about to be ruined, he manipulates Bunny using half-remembered portions of Joan’s conversation.
Clyde puts on the mask, but the moment he does, his breakdown is complete. The man is gone and there is only the monster. This wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for the fact that the hands of the suit are operated hydraulically giving him tremendous power – more than enough to kill. And as he begins his rampage, Bunny doesn’t want him simply shot, because of the guilt he has for neglecting the man, unaware that he was suffering the whole time.
Here’s the problem with this episode.
It is impossible to take anything seriously when you trot out a costume looking like that. Beasts was broadcast in 1976, two years later, John Carpenter made Halloween, which introduced the idea of a masked madman attacking innocents. Had The Dummy used the sensibility of the slasher movie, which relies heavily on the mask, this would have been an incredible episode, as the nature of horror movie protagonists had change. But this is just laughable.