[31 Days of TV Anthology Terror] Shadows of Fear: Did You Lock Up?

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To celebrate horror on television, I’m looking back at 31 tales from various anthology series. They’re the ones I vividly remember or respond to the most. No matter what, though, they are proof that horror and suspense aren’t limited to the big screen.

Replacing stolen goods is far easier than reclaiming a lost sense of security. What you thought was a sanctuary is now essentially tainted. Anyone who has ever been victimized through acts of theft and burglary knows this horrible feeling all too well. While many people will accept what happened as a sad fact of life and move on, others will replay the crime over and over in their heads. That is exactly what one man does in “Did You Lock Up?” — and the only way he’ll be at ease again is if he can catch the culprits himself.

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Shadows of Fear was a serial anthology produced by Thames Television. Unlike its contemporaries, the show completely strayed from supernatural influence and was about the dark side of human psychology. It is also notable for an ominous and animated opening sequence.

The premiere episode “Did You Lock Up?” sets the series’ disturbing tone. Peter (Michael Craig) and Moira Astle (Gwen Watford) have come home without realizing a pair of crooks have broken in. After discovering and reporting the robbery later, Peter becomes obsessed with apprehending the criminals. He temporarily sates his mania by installing steel bars around the entrance and exits of a room in his house. As Moira goes away for a long trip, Peter stays home with his twisted fixation. Unfortunately for the prowlers on the receiving end of his vendetta, they slip up and return to the scene of the crime.

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“Did You Lock Up?” is one man’s highly upsetting reaction to trauma. His vexed mind is probed and put on full display without any kind of appeal to morality. What he decides to do once he’s caught the thieves is unsurprising yet still shocking. This is an extreme case of just desserts. The delivery of the appalling ending is well handled, if not uncomfortably perverse. Peter’s actions speak to our baser emotions and desire for revenge; he shows what’s already inside of us and waiting to emerge at the right (or, in this case, wrong) time.

Shadows of Fear goes against the grain by refraining from telling ghost stories. It instead taps into something far scarier — the human mind.

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