The Top Of
(ITC Movie title "Someone At The Top Of The Stairs")
Original UK transmission: 28th April 1973
Original US transmission: 12th February 1973
WRITTEN BY: Brian Clemens
DIRECTED BY: John Sichel
PRODUCED BY: John Sichel
MAIN CAST: Donna Mills (Chrissie Morton), Judy Carne (Gillian Pemberton), Francis Wallis (Gary Masters), Alethea Charlton (Mrs Oxhey), Brian McGarth (Elgar), Peter Cellier (Colonel Wright), Clifford Parrish (Thurston), Scott Forbes (Mr Patrick), Rhoda Lewis (Emma Patrick), Alan Roberto (Jonathan Patrick), Laura Collins (Sally Thurston), David DeKeyser (Cartney)
The camera pans over the Thames at twilight to an imposing-looking Victorian house, where within a young girl ascends a flight of stairs in a trance-like state. Reaching the top, she turns and heads blindly up a short stairwell towards a door; the door opens and she enters, whereupon it closes again. There is a moment of silence, and then a piercing scream rings out.
Chrissie and Gillian are students who take up lodgings in an ancient Victorian boarding house. Despite their delight with their new room and the low rent, the other occupants of the house are so peculiar that within days Chrissie is already talking of leaving. Gillian insists she stays, however, and she does - in spite of the curious habits of the residents and the strange fact that none of them ever seem to leave the house. When a man arrives at the door searching for his missing daughter, Chrissie suspects foul play but is unable to prove anything. The following day, she is forced to spend the night away against her better instincts, and Gillian inevitably comes face to face with the mysterious occupant at the top of the stairs...
This was never one of my favourites but upon recent viewing I find that it does in fact have a lot to commend it. Certainly the air of oddness about the house and its inhabitants is very well realised, as is the sense of foreboding regarding the mysterious character living above Chrissie and Gillian's room. For me, the problem comes with the ending which, while unexpected, doesn't quite seem to live up to all the build up. Donna Mills would return in two further stories, One Deadly Owner and Killer With Two Faces.
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