Air Date: March 8, 1974 (ABC Late Night, The Wide World Mystery)
Production Companies: Dan Curtis Productions
Running Time: 66 min.
Available from: Dark Sky Films (DVD)
Written by: Gene R. Kearney
Story by: Gene R. Kearney & Merwin Gerard
Directed by: Burt Brinckerhoff
Cast: Charles Aidman, Meredith Baxter, Christopher Connelly, George DiCenzo, John Karlen, Sally Kemp, Cris Nelson, Phillip Pine, Tony Russel, Jim Storm (uncredited)
IMDb lists The Invasion of Carol Enders as a 1973 production that aired on November 5, 1973. However, in the book, The Television Horrors of Dan Curtis, by Jeff Thompson, it’s listed as a 1974 production that aired on March 8, 1974, as part of the ABC late night series, The Wide World of Mystery. Since its running time is just over an hour and it was shot on videotape, I’m going to guess this is one of those instances in which (gasp) IMDb is wrong.
On the other hand, the ending is rushed; I had to rewind a few times to make sure I didn’t miss something during the climax, so I suppose it could have been trimmed from a longer original running time to fit the late night format. The scene in question includes a man wearing a white sweater filling a syringe, then seconds later, the same man wearing a blue shirt with the sleeves rolled up lying on the floor dead. How did he die? It’s not explained.
Other than this perplexing conclusion, The Invasion of Carol Enders is a terrific movie with a compelling concept and strong script. There’s a twist that I truly didn’t anticipate. When it was delivered, I exclaimed aloud. This boosted my rating by at least one star because it’s not often these days that I’m surprised by a plot point. In fact, I’m pretty sure the “compelling concept” I mentioned has been utilized in other movies; it’s the outcome that I believe is different.
The movie plays very much like a daytime soap opera with the staging, the movement of the actors, and the close-up conversations among them. It’s high on talk, low on action… so much so that the couple of scenes that contain things like a speeding police car were lifted from The Norliss Tapes (1973) and that’s why IMDb lists Dan Curtis as an uncredited director for The Invasion of Carol Enders.
The actors are very good, though, and I soon settled into the potentially cheap-looking style. Meredith Baxter plays the titular character. When she and her fiancée, Adam Reston (Christopher Connelly) are attacked on Lover’s Lane by an uncredited Jim Storm (Dark Shadows), she suffers brain damage and is about to expire when Diana Bernard (Sally Kemp) dies in a nearby hospital room. When Carol awakens, she claims to be Diana.
Here comes the soap… Carol is a nurse at the hospital and Diana is the wife of a doctor there, Peter Bernard (Charles Aidman.) When foul play is expected in Diana’s death, Carol is suspected of being involved because she would have access to her and her husband’s private affairs. Proving her innocence depends upon the other characters believing that Diana’s consciousness invaded Carol’s body, starting with the skeptical fiancée, Adam Reston.
The success of The Invasion of Carol Enders depends entirely on the cast and the script. There’s virtually no atmosphere or mood. Bob Cobert once again provides the music for a Dan Curtis production and it’s largely lifted from Dark Shadows, particularly the love theme developed for the final episodes of the series that became a big part of the theatrical film, Night of Dark Shadows (1971.) No matter; it all works for me here and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The Invasion of Carl Enders is available to rent on Amazon Prime. Visit the TV Terror Guide: 70's TV Movies playlist at ClassicHorrors.Club TV on YouTube to watch other great movies from this series...