Air Date: Dec. 29, 1975
Production Companies: Lorimar Productions
Running Time: 78 min.
Available on: YouTube
Written by: Howard Rodman
From the book by David Delman
Directed by: John Llewellyn Moxey
Cast: Michael Constantine, Barbara Rhodes, David Opatoshu
Rating: 7 vintage televisions (out of 10)
Conspiracy of Terror (1975) was a delightful surprise, not because of the thrills and chills, but because of the thoroughly charming characters and the easy-breezy execution of its episodic format. Like several other 1970s TV movies we’ve discussed, this was a failed pilot. However, it’s one for a series that I could imagine watching week after week.
Jacob Horowitz (Michael Constantine) and his wife, Helen (Barbara Rhoades) have a loving relationship on which honesty and trust is built atop the husband’s slightly neurotic personality. His father, Arthur (David Opatoshu), doesn’t approve of the marriage and we learn a lot about the couple as they discuss going to his house for dinner later that week.
Jacob and Helen dress, have breakfast, chit-chat, then get in their cars to go to work… at the same place. They are both detectives and are individually referred to as “He Horowitz” and “She Horowitz.” The story revolves around Jacob’s mystery, but Helen has her own, and we get to know her through tangential discussions of her frustrations with the case.
The primary mystery begins when a young boy visits Jacob to report a missing “person”: his dog. Then, while investigating a possible murder in a model home in the suburbs, he learns it’s in the same neighborhood as the missing dog. Jacob’s instincts tell him they’re connected, but he has no evidence, until…
…he rides along with Helen to a pawn shop while she interviews the proprietor about some missing microscopes. While there, he spots a stuffed goat’s head that was stolen from the garage of another crime victim… in the same suburban neighborhood. That’s three strikes against Willow River.
When He and She learn that Willow River also has a history of women being hit by cars or injured while running barefoot through the streets, we figure out what’s happening long before they do, even if the goat head didn’t tip us off. There’s some Satanic panic happening in the ‘burbs!
In fact, the two heroes don’t figure it out completely until they’re thrust right into the middle of a basement ceremony gone wrong that sends yet another potential victim running into the streets. The tone changes here. Dead dogs, sacrificing women, and setting people on fire are things that aren’t quite as charming as the two leads and their idiosyncrasies.
Visit the TV Terror Guide: 70's TV Movies playlist at ClassicHorrors.Club TV on YouTube to watch Conspiracy of Terror as well as all the great movies from this series...