Encounter with the Unknown (1972) Poster

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Interesting and fairly well-done for a cheap horror flick...
InjunNose7 June 2004
It's difficult to tell exactly what the filmmakers were going for, though. The subject matter is treated very seriously, and much hubbub is made about the three stories being true. They were supposedly based on research conducted by parapsychologist Dr. Jonathan Rankin, but here's the deal: as far as I've been able to ascertain, there WAS no Jonathan Rankin. Apparently the writers of "Encounter" invented him. Still, kudos to them for dressing up this patchwork quilt of urban legends and drive-in exploitation in a halfway-convincing manner. Rod Serling's narration helps (actually, there are two narrators; the other one is uncredited, but he sounds like Lawrence Dobkin). The first story involves a "witch"--the seventh daughter of a seventh son--placing a curse on the young men who were inadvertently responsible for her son's death. The second is based on a little-known Ozark legend about some sort of monster that lives in the bowels of the earth. The third and final tale is a version of the well-worn "Vanishing Hitchhiker" legend. There's not much action, but there are quite a few genuinely creepy moments. The cast features several regulars from exploitation director S.F. Brownrigg's films ("Don't Look In the Basement", "Poor White Trash Part 2"), including Rosie Holotik (who is terrific as the Vanishing Hitchhiker), Gene Ross, and Annabelle Weenick. "Encounter With the Unknown" will look cheap and shoddy to most mainstream viewers, but I think that everyone involved with the film deserves an A for effort. Horror fans will want to give this a look.
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10/10
Stories made more disturbing by their alleged reality.
ScaryLarry26 January 2000
While rather cheap-looking and poorly acted, the three stories presented in Encounter With the Unknown can be somewhat frightening considering that they are purportedly true. The first story seems rather incredible and the third may be recognized as a well-known "urban legend", but the intervening story is somehow very believable and easily the most disturbing of the three. This movie is well worth seeing if only for the second story concerning the strange hole which appears in the ground after a heavy rainfall.
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7/10
Works as a curio, especially for Rod Serling fans.
Hey_Sweden16 January 2013
Despite clearly having been filmed on a low budget (on location in Arkansas), the fairly creepy anthology film "Encounter with the Unknown" does establish a respectable atmosphere. It's co-scripted by director Harry Thomason, taking its inspiration from three urban legends. Given that legendary 'Twilight Zone' creator Rod Serling is involved, it's nothing if not interesting. It examines ideas such as the dividing line between illusion and reality, the power of the human mind - or, to be more specific, the power of belief - and the concept of witchcraft.

Serling is one of two narrators - the other gentleman is used for the opening two minutes and during the final ten minutes - and does his usual commendable job at drawing us into these stories and giving us the alleged facts of each case. Each of these tales has some potent and chilling moments, and the cast is generally good.

The first tale revolves around college student Frank (Gary Brockette) confessing some strange occurrences to helpful priest Father Duane (Robert Ginnaven): weeks earlier he and his buddies had played what they thought was a harmless prank on a simple minded acquaintance, only for things to go horribly wrong. The young mans' mother (Fran Franklin) then turns to them at the funeral and utters a cryptic warning, which seems to be coming true.

Next, we're told of characters who lived at the turn of the century who discovered a mysterious, misty hole in the earth. The father (Robert Holton) of a boy whose dog disappeared ventures inside the hole; we never find out just what he might have seen, but he comes out a very traumatized individual. Could the hole have been a passageway to Hell itself? Maybe.

Finally, a travelling senator (Michael Harvey) and his wife encounter a strange girl (Rosie Holotik) who asks to be driven home. In flashback we learn that she'd wanted nothing more than to marry the man she loved, but her father (Gene Ross) believed him to be good for nothing and forbade her from marrying him. The senator meets the now aged father who has a revelation in store for him.

The hardcore exploitation / horror buff will be pleased to note the presence of S.F. Brownrigg regulars like Ross and Annabelle Weenick, as well as other familiar faces like the lovely Holotik ("Horror High"), Bill Thurman ("The Last Picture Show"), James N. Harrell ("Race with the Devil"), and comedian Charlie Dell while watching. They help to make this an entertaining view, although the movie falters a little during its final tale as it starts to drag too much. Still, as mentioned in the summary, this does have some genuine curiosity value going for it. Serling as always does an extremely engaging job of posing provocative questions that may not have easy answers. Overall genre fans may find it to their liking.

Seven out of 10.
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7/10
Good old-school creepiness
rickster728 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I remember seeing this film as a kid and it freaked me out. I always thought it was well done, and when I rented it years later on VHS I found it to be still entertaining. Having Rod Serling narrate it added a level of spookiness, and the documentary-style mixed with reenactments worked well for it. This flick reminds me of that creepy 70's show In Search Of. I enjoyed all three stories equally. I liked how all 3 stories are based on actual events. I also found it creepy how in the beginning the narration talked about a theory that many people who's deaths are related to the supernatural or the occult tend to be buried in the same cemetery. I wish they would finally release this on DVD. I've been waiting for years to own this!
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10/10
From an insiders view
mfbarnes20 November 2006
The pretense of the plot was that the hole was the gates to Hell. At least that is what I was told on the set. I was the voice of the boy in "the hole". The sound for that was actually done @ Century studios in Dallas. Brian Hooper and myself spent a day doing sound effects and voice tapes. The sound from the actual hole was me in the bottom of a concrete cistern calling "Lady" over and over. Was a very good movie, being able to work with Harry Thomason and meeting Rod Sterling was a great thrill for me as an eleven year old kid. Brian Hooper was almost my step father, and still remains a great friend. He bought me my first car when I turned 16. He is now retired and living in East Texas on a farm. My mother was a script girl on this gig, she was credited at the end Jackie Barnes and I was uncredited, Brian was who got us involved, an got my Mom her start in the industry. I just got a DVD copy and I am watching it as we speak. I haven't seen this in over twenty years. My 15 minutes.
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FINALLY! The film that has eluded a repeat viewing after all these years!
stevenw-131 March 2007
I first saw this film on TV in 1978. I only watched the middle story, however before we switched channels to watch "And Now the Screaming Starts" instead. I was only 7 years old, but the story and images stuck with me all these years. I caught a glimpse of the second story again (the hole in the earth tale) in 1980 in L.A.'s Greyhound Bus Terminal on a pay-per-view TV in the waiting areas. Ever since 1997 nobody on the many horror movie Internet forums could identify this film for me! Finally in 2004 I went to the microfilms at the local library to look up that date in 1980 in the TV listings and that is where the title Encounter With the Unknown came be...well, known (or re-known to me). Not soon after, I won the one-sheet poster on Ebay. On March 30th, 2007, I finally scored A DVD R of this (in great condition) from Retroflicks.com. The film - in all its grainy filmstock, unprofessional acting, Afterschool Special soundtrack music glory...all make for ONE CREEPY VIEWING!!!! Films that are too slick (the ones made today) lack the punch these older films have. In fact, during the first tale, I was afraid to watch this film alone in my apartment. So I watched TVland reruns until I had to wait until my roommate came home before I resumed. As a veteran of watching a darn-near lifetime of horror movies, that's saying a lot! What can be considered production "short-comings" to mainstream movie viewers actually WORKS in this films favor! I bought the whole experience and I, indeed, refuse to watch this one alone. The documentary feel is a hoot to watch. In fact, if this film was digitally cleaned and remastered it might lose some of its effect. Still, I'm glad I'm reunited with an old favorite that has lost none of its appeal all these years. It's exactly as I remembered it.
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7/10
Rod Serling As Narrator.
AaronCapenBanner20 August 2013
Rod Serling made a living late in his life narrating various specials, and this film, which isn't that famous, but for those of us who saw it on television, it was one to remember.

Starts off atmospherically in a cemetery, where the following three tales of supernatural encounters are supposed to have been recorded by a paranormal researcher, but I have never seen this person verified!(Was he made up for dramatic reasons?) First story involves a mother's death curse against the three teenagers whose cruel prank led to her son's death; eerie, but becomes repetitive, with too many flashbacks and close ups of the mother.

The second story is the best, about a mysterious hole that appears in the ground somewhere in the south, where frightening sounds can be heard emanating from. Really creepy and effective, with a memorable payoff. Not easily forgotten.

Third story is the old chestnut of the vanishing hitch-hiker; nothing new, but effectively creates a melancholy air about lost love and wasted life that will stay with you.

The entire film is atmospheric, with a notable early 1970's aura about it. On DVD, and worth tracking down.
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7/10
Twilight Zone As A Movie
aesgaard4126 May 2001
If you're familiar with the Twilight Zone series, it was an anthology of horror and sci-fi stories. Sticking with the horror motif, this movie takes three stories: a traumatic mother's prophecies, a hole in the ground and the traditional story of the ghostly hitchiker, and tries to scare us by claiming they're true. While there are numerous hitchhiker stores out there, Resurrection Mary the most famous, the movie actually makes a slight impact on the atmosphere level, but it is a bit lacking in its suspense factor. The production as well as some of the musical score is a little off-kilter, but the actors do put a fair effort in telling the stories and relating them to the viewer. It's great entertainment for horror fans opposed to the sensationalism of the blood-and-gore pics, but it's just not as scary as it tries to be..
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Serling not at his best.
pdthorne11 November 2004
Encounter with the Unknown is an anthology of supernatural stories revolving around events which are purported to have actually happened. We have Rod Serling's testimony to that fact, which in the mid-1970's was good enough.

It's Night Gallery meets Legend of Boggy Creek. When Encounter with the Unknown really ramps-up it isn't half bad. But when it's bad, it's really frickin' awful. You fans of bad cinema will eat it up. All of your favorite low-budget elements are here; terrible acting, abysmal dialog, amateurish sound and dubbing, grubby set design and costuming, and best of all, the master of ceremonies, Serling, "phoning it in" as only he could do at the very end of his tenure.

The stories are not really bad at all. This film, had it had the budget it needed would be have been a classic. But it wasn't and so now it struggles to keep the chills coming and laughs to a minimum.
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8/10
Enjoyable low-budget drive-in horror anthology outing
Woodyanders29 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Three tales of terror of the urban legend variety: A trio of college frat boys are cursed by the bitter and vengeful mother (a nicely sinister portrayal by Fran Franklin) of a boy who they accidentally killed with an ill-advised prank; a little boy discovers a mysterious hole in the woods that might just be a pit leading straight to hell; and a motorist gives a ride to forlorn hitchhiker Susan (beautifully played with touching grace by ravishing redhead Rosie Holotik of "Horror High" fame), who turns out to be a ghost. Director/co-writer Harry Thomason relates the entertaining stories at a steady pace and does a solid job of creating a pleasingly spooky atmosphere, with the middle segment in particular standing out as one remarkably creepy affair (the ghastly screams and moans coming up from out of the hole are genuinely scary and unnerving). The earnest acting from a cast of familiar Southern-fried hillbilly exploitation cinema faces helps a lot, with especially praiseworthy work from Gene Ross as Susan's stern disapproving father, Annabelle Weenick as a distraught farm woman, Robert Holton as concerned redneck Joe, Robert Ginnaven as compassionate priest Father Duane, Charlie Dell as pesky village idiot Jonas, and the always welcome Bill Thurman as an amiable local yokel. Rod Serling's exquisitely sonorous narration provides a lovely element of pure class. The backwoods locations give the picture a folksy downhome charm. The fairly polished cinematography by James W. Roberson and Charles Thurston boasts a few snazzy visual flourishes. The spirited shivery score hits the shuddery spot. A really fun fright flick.
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4/10
Only worth it for 70s film buffs or Rod Serling fans
goods11621 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is a simply a little curiosity for those really into 70s movies (this is me) or Rod Serling. Otherwise it is mostly a waste of time, with stories that have one punch line or interesting moment, with the rest filler (A LOT of filler) to make the movie 90 minutes. The whole thing would have been better as three 10-minute shorts. The only neat part for the 70s film buff is the sort of grainy, dreamy quality of the filming, the hair, cars (especially in the first segment). But even then, this can't hold your interest for long.

****Spoilers Ahead Now***** You know exactly what is going to happen in the first segment, so there is little suspense. The mother reciting the curse is the only cool moment. The hole segment is interesting only in the last 30 seconds when you see the result. A little suspense to see if the boy falls in or goes in. Of the three, this is the best one. The last segment is reasonable, but just too long for anyone to care that much for that much time. Also pretty clear what happens, not much of a "twist."
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10/10
Terrific 70's style spook-fest!!
smoothbreeze7321 June 2010
I love these old gems from the past! No computer special effects or anything fancy, just simple, creepy tales done in sort of a 70's documentary style. This fits in with other classics like "Legend Of Bogey Creek". The great Rod Serling narrates three weird tales of the supernatural. Making it even spookier is that the stories told are supposedly based on real life accounts. Fact or not, I'm into this sort of thing so this was right up my alley! TV can't make creepy shows like this anymore. The old style grainy picture creates a real mood with these old shows, something that isn't captured with the new digital. This is the type of show the would air late at night that would scare the life out of me growing up! If you're nostalgic, and enjoy classic horror from the past, I definitely recommend trying to find this on VHS, you will enjoy it!
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4/10
Look at the Heptagram for answers
sol121816 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
(Some Spoilers) The movie "Encounters with the Unknown" just can't seem to make up its mind to what it's trying to tell you in the three supernatural stories in it. We get this prologue about this mysterious Rankin Cluster Phenomenon, discovered by a Dr. Jonathan Rankin, that supposed to be as many as 500 graves clustered together in a number of cemeteries all over the country. Were never told what its, the cluster phenomenon, supposed to be or represent! Were then drawn to this funeral for young Jimmy Davis who was killed because of a dirty prank played on him by his three friends Dave Frank & Randy. Jimmy told by the three that they got a hot date set up for him is accidentally shot and killed by elderly Mrs. Wilson who, after mistaking him for a bugler, shot him when her gun went off.

Jimmy's mother Mrs. Davis, the seventh daughter of the seventh son of her father-in-law, put a curse on the three boys telling them that they'll end up like Jimmy did stone cold dead! One by land and two by air, in the span of 21 days after his funeral! Seven days time for each of them to meet their maker, and just as she predicted that's exactly what happens! Dave gets hit and killed by a car Frank dies in a plane crash and Randy perished when his parachute fails to open when he's out skydiving! All the three boys die exactly seven, or 21 in all, days apart from each other!

The next two stories aren't much better, in fact their even worse. Story #2 is about this hole in the woods that supposedly has the Devil living in it. and where little Jesse's dog Lady ends up falling into. Jesse's straight-laced dad Joe not beveling in all that supernatural rubbish that everyone in town is talking about, about the mysterious hole, decide to go it alone and be lowered down into the hole. Joe tries to get the mutt only to end up stark raving mad when he's brought back up, without Lady. He ends up running through the wood like a mindless lunatic; were told by the narrator that Joe completely lost it and ended up in a padded cell in a local mental institution for the rest of his life.

The third and final chapter to "Encounters with the Unknown" has to do with this young girl Susan who's haunting this bridge in rural Arkansas. We find out that she killed herself by driving her jalopy off the bridge and into the river back in 1929. Susan's very strict father forbid her to marry the boy she loved Paul, he wasn't making enough cash, and drove the love sick girl, and possibly her lover Paul, to kill herself. Susan's old man is still alive, this after almost 45 years after the tragic incident, and has to put up with, what can possibly be, hundreds of sighting of his daughter from motorists. Susan gives her dad's address to any motorist who happen to cross the bridge at night when she's there hunting it! This I assume is the old man's punishment from above in trying to interfere with his daughter Susan's love life and it's a purgatory on earth for him.

There's nothing in the film that you haven't seem before with Rod Serling, sounding as serious as ever, pinch-hitting in some of the narration, he replaces the original narrator after the first five minutes of the film. The movie also has a very annoying habit of repeating itself, Mrs. Davis' Heptagran curse is repeated almost a dozen times. There's what looks like an abridged version of the film in the last fifteen minutes. Probably in order to pad the film and make it look like a full-length motion picture.
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Works Well Despite Its Low Budget
Michael_Elliott24 December 2017
Encounter with the Unknown (1972)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Rod Serling narrates three tales that deal with the unknown. The first story has three friends playing a prank on a nerdy guy, which ends up getting him killed. At the funeral the dead boy's mother tells the three something that leads to their fate. In the second story, a farm boy and his father discover a mysterious opening in the woods. In the final story, a man is driving across a bridge when he spots a young woman and picks her up. She requests to go to her father's house.

I'm going to avoid spoiling anything in regards to the three stories. With that said, ENCOUNTER WITH THE UNKNOWN is a film that is obviously working with a very low-budget. The film reminded me a lot of THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK and it works in the same way that one did. Both films pretty much had no budgets but this worked to their advantage because it created a real atmosphere. This film here has some rather interesting moments but also some very bad ones.

As far as the three stories go, there's no question that the second one is the best. I thought this one here managed to have the best atmosphere and it's easy to see how this story could scare a lot of the young kids who watched it at the drive-in back in 1972. The first story is without question the weakest because it's incredibly easy to figure out what's going to happen. The third and final story is predictable but I thought it played out in an interesting way.

I'd argue that the "closing speech" made at the end of the three stories wasn't needed and in fact the film would have been much better without it. The performances are mixed throughout the three stories but Serling's narration is quite good throughout. Overall, ENCOUNTER WITH THE UNKNOWN isn't the perfect movie but there's enough here to make it worth watching.
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5/10
Revisited After Many Years
utgard1423 December 2013
I first saw this made-for-TV movie when I was a kid. Three things stuck with me from it. Two are from the first story in the film, which I'll get to shortly. The third was Rod Serling's distinctive voice narrating. Had it not been for Serling, I doubt I would have ever figured out what movie it was I had these memories of. But I did and today I saw it for the first time in decades. The movie is three stories of the supernatural that are supposedly based on fact. One of them is very obviously an urban legend ghost story that was old by the time this film was made in 1973. So that casts doubt on the other two being based on true events as well.

The first story is about three young men who play a prank on another which results in his death. At the funeral, the dead boy's mother places a curse on the three, telling them they will each die over the next few weeks. The rhyming curse is silly but the makers of this film were obviously very proud of it, as they use the scene of her reciting it repeatedly. This is the story that I remember parts of from my childhood. I remember the mother's expression as she cursed the boys, which was scary to me as a child but is funnier now. The other thing I remembered was the boy who played the victim of the prank. He creeped me out back then. Now he looks to me like an inbred Jake Gyllenhaal, which is creepy as well. This segment is OK but not scary like I remembered.

The second story is about some hick people that find a mist-covered hole in the woods that has sounds of something moaning coming out of it. This story starts out well enough but its ending is not satisfactory at all. Still, this was probably my favorite story of the three. What was with that mentally challenged guy though? They showed him running up to the barber early on like he would be significant later. Then, when he shows back up later at the hole with the other men, he doesn't do anything. It's like someone thought "let's just throw this guy in there." Weird.

The third story is the weakest. It's the old "phantom hitchhiker" story we've all read or seen many times before. Overlong, padded segment for such a standard ghost story. Love the clash between 1920s and 1970s styles in their attempt to do a period piece though.

The end result is that it's a watchable movie, enjoyable on some levels. The acting is mostly amateur and the writing, particularly the narration, is weak. Serling didn't write this. It was just a payday for him doing narration work. It does have a sort of '70s atmosphere about it. Fans of that will enjoy it.
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7/10
Listen You
phenom-824 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Highly entertaining! Emotionally charged! Riveting! This is a great campy attempt at Twillight Zone. One interesting twist in one of the stories is you will actually see a flashback within a flashback! You don't see that a lot! Kudo's to the filmmaker! To top it off it stars Robert Ginnaven, from Day it Came to Earth and he's teamed up with his partner from that movie, Lyle Armstrong. My friend and I find constant entertainment outta this one. Best skit in this movie is the first story involving three twitty looking dudes being told of a curse in which they all might die! I would suggest viewing this and then The Day It Came to Earth right after.
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4/10
Padded, hokey, but with a certain 70s charm.
mcornett24 January 2011
As another reviewer noted, the hyped "Rankin cluster phenomenon" appears to be total BS. The movie overall has a bit of interest and a few memorable moments.

The first story involves a prank that goes horribly wrong and costs a young man his life, so his witchy mother (in the film's most memorable scene) lays a curse on them at the funeral, although she's never seen to curse the person truly responsible for her son's death. And the guys responsible all die in "accidents" on schedule...

The second story involves a mysterious hole in the ground that appears on a rural farm in the early 20th century. It's just suddenly there one morning. Smoke roils out of it and weird sounds are heard. A local farmer is lowered into it....

The third is the weakest, a rehash of the tired "Phantom Hitchhiker" story that was already a cliché decades before this film was made.

The biggest weakness is that there's so little substance to these stories. Scenes are played over and over and over in obvious attempts to pad it out to feature length. Every story is supposedly based on a "true story" although it seems to either be urban legends or made up from whole cloth. Another amusing bit is in the third story, which has flashbacks to the 20s, and in those scenes were shown a wealthy stylish girl who has long flowing hair...something totally out of whack, as stylish girls of the 20s had bobbed hair! (Of course, by the 70s, long flowing hair was stylish again...) I saw this on a local station back in the 70s or early 80s, and finally came across it again on YouTube. It's cheap hokum, never particularly scary or disturbing, sloppily written and badly edited. Watching it again I can't help but wonder if it was meant to be the pilot for a TV series. It's amusing when one is nostalgic for cheap 70s horror, but ultimately it fails because of the clichéd nature of the stories (except the second one) and the obvious padding. Something with a bit more imagination and more willing to have fun with the material, and even take some liberties with the urban legends, would have been much more enjoyable. The music over the opening credits is memorable, though.
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10/10
Location of the supernatural hole in the ground......
missvirginradio4 January 2008
Just thought you might find this interesting.

In April of 1998, I accompanied my boyfriend, who is a parapsychologist, on one of his field studies. We found ourselves northwest of Des Moines, in a town called, Titonka, Iowa. From Des Moines we took the 35 North to the 18 West. It took us about 2 hours to get to Titonka. Its a very small out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere type of town. It was very children-of-the- corn, if that makes any sense at all. Town consists of about 500 people.

My boyfriend had been asked to come out and do a report on a supernatural hole in the ground that was troubling the locals. Once we arrived, he started interviewing the local, and they all said pretty much the same thing: strange noises can be heard emanating from the hole during certain times. Apparently it didn't happen very often, maybe once every few years. I guess it was consistent though, and when it would act up, it would act up for a couple weeks before going dormant again.

I helped my boyfriend conduct a bunch of tests to determine the size, length and content of the hole, but we didn't gather too much evidence. His sonar device couldn't pick up a reading. He would lower it down into the hole about 50 feet and the only thing the sonar bounced off of was the top of the hole. His sonar device could determine the length or the width as long as it was under 1500 meters. If the measurement is more than 1500 meters, it wouldn't be able to use echo-location and give a proper read. His machine didn't read anything, which tells you the hole was deeper than 1500 meters, and wider than 1500 meters in any given direction. He never did get a proper read on the depth of the hole, his instruments only measure up to 1500 feet. He sent down a couple different cameras, but after about 50 feet, they kept shutting themselves off. He did some decibel readings as well, and he kept picking up a weird frequency that was audible to the dogs in town.

We heard the noises mostly at night. It was a weird noise that kind of resembled a whimpering dog at times, and others it resembled an angry monster dog. I was too afraid to actually accompany my boyfriend to the area while he was getting close up recordings of the sounds.

Whatever is in that hole is equally as intriguing as the hole itself. I bet what my boyfriend did his field study on was the basis for this story in the movie.

^_^
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2/10
In Search of Urban Legends shot on a low budget
edeighton20 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
**Warning Spoilers**

Eric Deighton's review of Encounter with the Unknown *Warning Spoilers*

If you are in the Brian Bly led YT Horror Movie Discussion Group and if you have watched the first three movies selected for discussion in October of 2017, then congratulations; because you have seen a full half of the entire film catalog of actress, Rosie Holotik. Yes, former Playboy Playmate Cover Girl of December 1972, Rosie Holotik, has made exactly four films in her entire career and Brian Bly (by chance?!?!) has chosen two of them, Horror High and Encounter with the Unknown, to review in October 2017.

This was a bad movie. It was grainy and poorly shot. The film was shot silent with the sound, including all voice work, dubbed in post film. For some inexplicable reason they used two separate narrators, Rod Serling and a separate uncredited narrator. The opening crawl was read by a narrator, yet halfway through the voice-over narration he starts reading material that is not written on screen. The plot was weak as it rehashed all to familiar stories.The same footage is shown on screen over and over again in an obvious attempt to increase the total run time.

Brian Bly wonders if this was a Horror film. I consider this a Shockumentary. It is filmed and presented in the same style as the old Leonard Nimoy television series "In Search Of". That television show used to scare the hell out of me as a kid because the occult and supernatural were presented on that show as series and real events that were being studied by "professionals". That is how this movie treats its material. This movie was supposedly a documentary detailing case studies by noted parapsychologist, Dr. Jonathan Rankin who discovered that as many as 500 graves of people involved in the supernatural are clustered in 23 graveyards (the "Rankin Cluster Phenomenon"). Except there never was a Dr. Jonathan Rankin and the "Rankin Cluster Phenomenon" was invented out of whole cloth for this movie.

Interesting facts about the movie:

*The whole movie was a low budget and locally filmed product of Arkansas and is featured in the online Encyclopedia of Arkansas. *A local Arkansas man who claims that as a boy he did the post film voice over for the little boy in the "Hole" story also claims that the sound effect of the noises from inside the Hole were created by having him call the dog's name "Lady" from deep down in the bottom of a concrete cistern.

* The director Harry Thomason is a famous figure in Arkansas history as he went on to produce a number of hit Television series in the 1980's including the "Fall Guy", "Designing Woman" and "Evening Shade" but was also the Co-Chairman of President Bill Clinton's 1992 Election Convention and Inauguration Committee. Later Harry Thomason got caught up in the Monica Lewinsky scandal and testified before the Lewinsky Grand Jury.

*The majority of the soundtrack for this movie (not the folk song but the instrumental interludes) were composed and performed by Johnny Pearson. I bet you don't know his name but I am sure you all heard his most famous work; the classic Monday Night Football instrumental (a link is provided below).
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8/10
Truly Creepy!
alfredpr-6961110 March 2019
Steeped in rich 70's morbid ambience, this one will stay with you. Has a 'Faces of Death' aura around it or maybe the creator of that series was inspired by this film.
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6/10
How many narrators does one movie need?
BandSAboutMovies12 August 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Harry Thomason and his wife, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason created TV's Designing Women and were a 1990's power couple, playing a major role in getting President Bill Clinton elected. But way before that, he wrote and directed this Rod Serling narrated film.

This movie presents its tales as true, set up by not one narrator, but two. Yes, Rod Serling was not enough. Let that sink in.

"The Heptagon" starts at the funeral of a college student. It turns out that three guys all played a prank that led to his death. A curse from his mother - the seventh daughter of a seventh son - leads to every one of them dying.

"The Darkness" is about a boy's dog disappearing into a hole to hell and his father going insane after he tries to visit the hole. This feels like a retelling of the Shaver mysteries (see our review of Beyond Lemuria to learn more), although one possibly insane IMDB reviewer claims that they've been to the actual hole. There's also an IMDB review of the film from the voice of the hole itself! Does this have something to do with the voices from Hell that have been proven to be audio from Baron Blood?

Finally, "The Girl on the Bridge" retells the urban legend "The Vanishing Hitchhiker," which has variations all over the country (check out this North Carolina one). Rosie Holotik from Horror High and Don't Look in the Basement plays the title character, which takes this movie up several letter grades.

The end of the film feels like it keeps wrapping everything up, only to take us back to the beginning and tell it all again. It's a really strange narrative device that probably was the only way that this movie got to a long enough running time to play in drive-ins.

This film is an odd duck. It's so awesome in parts and so bad in others. Serling's voice is perfect, but you can tell he had nothing to do with the writing. And yet, it all feels like something you'd love to watch at a drive-in around 3 AM. So, you know, this would be a definite recommendation.

Thomason would follow this up with The Great Lester Boggs, a motorcycle film featuring ex-football player Alex Karras as a cop, The Day It Came to Earth and Revenge of Bigfoot, which starred Motel Hell's Rory Calhoun. Then, after writing and producing for The Fall Guy, he started moving in much more powerful circles.
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6/10
Little-known trilogy of true-life horror stories
Leofwine_draca5 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
ENCOUNTER WITH THE UNKNOWN is a little known US horror anthology with narration by Rod Serling. There are three tales collected here, with the hook that they're all supposedly true. The film's quality is low budget, with lots of grain throughout and unknown actors across the board, but the scripting is fairly decent. The main thing that lets this down is the last fifteen minutes which merely recaps all of the stories we've just watched and seems to have been tacked on to pad out the running time. The first tale is about a prank by a group of college students that ends in unexpected murder. The second, and my favourite, is about a hole that opens up in a park and which may be responsible for the death of a kid's dog. The third story is about a teenage girl's love affair that ends in tragedy.
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3/10
The lost TV show that scared me for years
hardrains20 October 2016
Oh wow! I saw this back in the '70s when I was eight year old and the story with the hole in ground scared me for at least a year after seeing it. I never knew its name and pretty much considered it lost but after some time searching the internet roughly 40 years year later I stumbled across people who knew the name. Thankfully it's available on YouTube so I could watch it! The show is actually terrible -- the acting laughable at times. But I was too happy to be able to watch it again to care, I thought it was lost forever! Also, I was pleasantly surprised to discover Rod Serling as the narrator as I later became a huge Twilight Zone fan. I gave it 3/10 (like I said, it's terrible) but for me it's fun nostalgia to watch on Halloween.
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Weird, from what I can remember
star8328 July 2001
Warning: Spoilers
I only remember bits and pieces of this movie, because when I saw it, i fell asleep on it. I mean, I fell asleep during parts of the movie, so i missed some of it (most of it). The only thing that I can remember (spoiler) is an old woman--she looked like a witch--pointing her finger at these people before they died, and chanting about hexagons, or pentagons, or some geometrical figure. This, of course, freaked me out, because not only do any horror movies from the 70's scare me (I think it's the thick looking fake blood--it looks completely unreal, but it is just so red and gross looking!) but this woman looked like some kind of nightmare! I didn't know what she was doing. Also, I saw the one about Resurrection Mary. This kind of scared me, but not really, because I knew the story. I thought that it was a sad love story. Anyways, I didn't know what this movie was called, because I was half asleep when it came on, and I wanted to see it again, because my first impression of it was that it was a scary movie. Maybe it was only because I woke up on that old woman.
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2/10
Very lame horror slash supernatural anthology film
Wizard-82 November 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Out of all the horror anthology movies that came out in the 1970s, "Encounter with the Unknown" is among the most obscure, though it's out on DVD for anyone who is really curious. Actually, I can't imagine any potential viewer finding enjoyment with this extremely weak movie. It goes wrong in almost every way you can think of. It's very very very cheap; it seems that most of the budget was blown with hiring Rod Serling to narrate, and to drive an antique car into a river. Threadbare production values from obvious dubbing to airplane crashes happening out of camera range abound. The movie is also ridiculously padded. Certainly the three stories are all extended past the breaking point, but the movie has the gall to tack on a 15 minute epilogue consisting of flashbacks to footage we've already seen while inane narration is being spoken. But the worst thing about the movie is that it has no kick to it. There are no twists or surprises, with the movie curiously content to let viewers know what will happen long before it actually happens. In the end, the only viewers who might be surprised by anything in the movie would be very little kids who haven't seen a horror anthology before... but it's more likely they'll just be as bored as their parents.
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