Friends, I am willing to bet that when most people hear the name of Robert Bloch, they will naturally conjuror images of Norman Bates and the Bates Motel – from the classic 1960 film Psycho, Directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh. That masterpiece and potential original slasher used a screenplay by Joseph Stefano (The Outer Limits) which was adapted from Bloch’s 1959 novel of the same name. An understandably lauded work that as I found online – Stephen King praised in the program book for the 1983 World Fantasy Convention:
“What [Robert] Bloch did with such novels as The Deadbeat, The Scarf, Firebug, Psycho, and The Couch was to rediscover the suspense novel and reinvent the antihero as first discovered by James Cain.”
Robert Bloch passed away back in ’94 but during his long career he penned 30 novels and hundreds of short stories – one such story was “The Weird Tailor” which was originally published in the pages of the July 1950 issue of Weird Tales. Eleven years after Bloch wrote the short story, he adapted it into a teleplay for the October 16th episode of Thriller, a wonderful television series hosted by none other than Boris Karloff.
The Weird Tailor concerns Mr. Smith (George Macready), a wealthy man who is a practitioner in the arts of the occult – who witnesses his Son perish after drunkenly stumbling into his summoning circle. It is his hope that Erik Borg (Henry Jones), a down on his luck tailor, can craft a very special suit using the bizarrely unique material that Smith has provided. In addition to following the explicit instructions – it must be done only by hand and only worked on at certain times of the day – if it is accomplished then Erik will received 500 dollars for all of his hard work.
If this sounds a little familiar, it might be that you are remembering 1972’s Asylum, Directed by Roy Ward Baker with Bloch adapting four of his short stories for the picture. In all honesty both versions are fantastic and I feel you are going to really enjoy The Weird Tailor – so turn down the lights if you are able and prepare for a Thriller.