Episode #3: “At the Cradle Foot” (September 29, 1972)
Plot: “A father who believes he has powerful premonitions tries to change future events after dreaming that his daughter will be murdered in 20 years.”
This episode was interesting, mainly due to use of hazy dream sequences to tell the story of Paul (James Franciscus) a father who has strange visions showing his young daughter (Lorie Busk/Lisa James) all grown-up and being murdered on a carousel ride by a mysterious young man (George McCallister). Years earlier, he had a similar vision involving his father dying in a plane crash that eventually came true but he did nothing to stop it. This time he’s determined to fight fate.
In an effort to change the future, the distraught dad uses various clues from his visions to locate the town where his daughter will be killed and stop the killer from ever being born. Naturally things get messy—we should all know by now that messing the future will probably have dire consequences!—and his plan doesn’t exactly work out but you can’t blame him for trying. I’m sure many father’s would make the same mistakes that Paul does.
Besides the always dependable James Franciscus, the cast includes Elizabeth Ashley who plays his ex-wife and Meg Foster as the future mother of a killer. All three have impressive horror and thriller credits in their filmographies including work with heavyweights such as Alfred Hitchcock, Dario Argento and John Carpenter. The script, written by Anthony Lawrence (Sweet, Sweet Rachel; 1971, The Sixth Sense; 1972, The Outer Limits; 1963-1964 as well as some Elvis musicals), is a little too flimsy to hold the weight of the plot but the actors do their best with what they have to work with.
Directing credit goes to TV veteran Don McDougall who worked on a number of popular western series and would later go on to direct episodes of Kolchak: The Night Stalker. As I mentioned above, the dream sequences he shot were especially creative and eerie. Composer Robert Prince also added to the overall mood of this episode with some creepy circus-themed music.
An interesting side note; the carousel seen in this episode of Ghost Story is the historic Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round that reportedly inspired Walt Disney to create Disneyland. The location has been used in a number of TV shows and music videos over the years but in “At the Cradle Foot” it still retains much of its original charm.
Overall, this was a unique take on the “ghost” theme of the series.