Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Curse of a Shudra

The Doll
Night Gallery
Episode 5, original airdate 1-13-1971
Teleplay by Rod Serling

A picture of ugly dolls reminded me the other day of what is without a doubt one of the scariest Rod Serling skits I've ever seen. I remembered the doll's face but not the story.

A hideous doll becomes an agent of revenge against an officer in Queen Victoria's colonial forces.

A doll is sent from India to British (unnecessary qualifier) Colonel Masters. When he returns home after his long tour of duty, his young niece excitedly shows him a dreadful doll. When confronted alone, the housekeeper explains she thought he had sent the doll but that there was "something terribly evil" about it.

The colonel buys a new doll for his niece, who later tells him the old doll said she didn't like the new doll and to give it back. The colonel tells her to give it another go but that night he hears his niece sobbing. He and the housekeeper run rush into her bedroom only to see that the "hateful thing" had ripped the new doll to shreds.

The next day a man arrives to see the colonel. He is the brother of a man recently executed in India. Colonel Masters explains expounds on circumstance: his brother was convicted for leading a series of raids against British outposts. The man replied that he was a shudra, a believer in magic, and he had sent the cursed doll to the colonel's house. He warns the colonel that the doll cannot be destroyed "until it has fulfilled its mission". 

As the man leaves he said, “The doll has teeth and there is no medicine on earth to save you." 

The colonel picks up a hot poker from the fireplace and climbs the staircase. Shockingly, the doll is sitting at the top of the stairs. Then the colonel's scream is heard and the sound of tiny feet running away. The colonel calls the housekeeper into the library where he tells her he has been bitten by the doll and to bring it to him. When she comes back, he throws the doll into the fireplace. "Now it is destructible. It has done its job," he said with a sigh of relief. 

The colonel knows he will die soon. He instructs the housekeeper to get retrieve from his dresser a sealed envelope from his dresser addressed to an Indian man addressed to an Indian man. "See that it's delivered to him immediately and tell him the thing has happened. He will know what to do."

The Indian messenger arrives at the apartment of the shudra. He gives him a box and tells the shudra it is a gift from the colonel. "You gave him a gift. He reciprocates," he said and walks away. The shudra opens the box, turns ashen and drops it. Inside the box is a doll that looks like the colonel. It opens its eyes and smiles.

Apparently the colonel was also was a believer in shudra magic. Full review of The Doll by David Juhl (Nov. 2013) 


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