In the early 60s, the successful television series “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” enjoyed its share of unsettling episodes, but none so viscerally creepy as “The Jar,” which aired Feb. 14, 1964.
The episode stars Pat Buttram (Mr Haney in “Green Acres”) as a down-on-his-luck yokel who purchases a jar full of mysterious contents from a carnival. The container attracts scores of visitors, each of whom see something different in its murky water — and something awful. Buttram’s new-minted popularity doesn’t sit well with his wife, Thedy (Collin Wilcox, Mayella Ewell in “To Kill a Mockingbird”), who attempts to have the jar destroyed. However, as she soon finds out, not only does the jar not go quietly, her husband is also none too eager to lose his one chance at respectability — and he’s all too ready to go to extremes to preserve it.
I remember the first time I watched that episode. It creeped the hell out of me. I’ve never forgotten it.
I also recall going to my small town county fair and seeing freak show specimens preserved in formaldehyde.
Since then, I’ve always had this dread fascination with macabre things kept or preserved in glass containers, especially large apothecary jars.
Maybe I’ll start my own macabre little collection one day.