Falling somewhere between The Twilight Zone and the 60s Thriller anthology series, it's not too difficult to see why the Hal Roach-produced, Boris Karloff-hosted The Veil never managed to sell to TV in 1959 after production was curtailed due to the money running out. It may pre-empt some elements of the more successful shows that would follow, but the ten produced `true and authenticated' tales of mystery and imagination dealing with ghosts, precognition, reincarnation, Jack the Ripper and the other usual suspects aren't terribly mysterious or imaginative (Tales of the Very Much As We Expected would be a better title) and despite, or perhaps because of being directed by old genre hands like George Waggner (curiously billed as george waGGner) and Herbert L. Strock, they look more like TV from the beginning of the 50s and would have had a tough time holding their own in a then-increasingly sophisticated marketplace. But seen from a distance they're rather cosy if undemanding fireside tales, helped along by the odd decent guest star - Patrick MacNee, Robert Hardy, Niall MacGinnis and George Hamilton among them - with Karloff doubling duties as host and character actor in nine of them, and having a ball as a pompous but none-too-smart copper in the first. You won't be surprised, but if you've a penchant for vintage television and aren't expecting a lost classic you won't be too disappointed either.
The UK DVD set released by Odeon includes ten episodes, nine filmed for the series and the tenth, Jack the Ripper, a short film acquired from a British studio to make up the numbers and consequently boasting both the best production values and an excellent lead performance from MacGinnis. Unfortunately it doesn't include the two additional episodes, The Vestris (part of a different anthology series Telephone Time but serving as a pilot for The Veil) and Peggy. They can be found on Timeless Media Group's US DVD Tales of the Unexplained. However, Odeon's DVD does include four episodes of another ill-fated anthology series that never sold, 13 Demon Street. Created by The Wolf Man's Curt Siodmak, it's a bit of a mess, each episode introduced by Lon Chaney Jr. as a man whose sins are so great he's condemned to spend eternity in 13 Demon Street until he can find someone whose sins are worse than his own.
Not that the sins of the four episodes here are particularly horrendous, though some of the acting is. Shot in Stockholm, the opening show about a surgeon who sews on a serial killer's hand to replace his own with the usual consequences seems to have been cast more on the actors ability to speak English (albeit with heavy accents) rather than to give a convincing performance. It's a problem that recurs in the miscasting of another story about a killer vine growing from a dead man's body to take revenge on his murderer, though the other two stories boast better performances. The most intriguing features Alf Kjellin as a fever-ridden doctor who starts seeing a drunken artist's model as she was decades ago, but the script is confused and most of the potential wasted. The best is a spin on M.R. James' The Mezzotint that stars John Crawford as a photographer who rapes and murders a girl only to find her appearing in a photograph and coming ever closer. None are particularly outstanding, more a curio than anything else, although the extensive and unfamiliar location photography gives it some novelty as long as it's not trying to be New York (taking down the Swedish shop signs might have been a good idea). The presentation is nothing to write home about either: most of Chaney's footage has been edited out - only one features a proper introduction - giving him only a few seconds of screen time each episode, while the episodes not only boast a TV channel watermark but Swedish subtitles as well!