Saturday, October 06, 2018

[Shangrila] Towers of Terror: The Twilight Zone

Halloween is upon us again, and as usual, I'll be putting up horror-themed posts throughout the month. Today, let's look at some of the scariest episodes from Rod Serling's classic TV series, "The Twilight Zone."

The After Hours

Rod Serling wrote the vast majority of the first season's episodes, and "The After Hours" is one of his scariest. The story starts with, as Serling puts it, "a most prosaic, ordinary, run-of-the-mill errand" - Marsha White (Anne Francis) tries to buy a gift for her mother in a department store. Things rapidly go south when Marsha is accidentally locked inside the store after it closes. She's all alone - or is she? The script gets maximum mileage out of an otherwise ordinary setting, and it even manages to work in Anne Francis's signature mole...

Twenty Two

This is one of six Twilight Zone episodes that was taped instead of filmed, in a vain attempt to save production costs. It's a shame, because the story (an adaptation of E.F. Benson's short story "The Bus-Conductor") is quite suspenseful. The episode follows a woman being hospitalized for nervous fatigue. She has a recurring nightmare of a creepy nurse beckoning her into a morgue. But where does the dream end, and reality begin?

The piece is anchored by a great performance from Barbara Nichols, who basically spends the entire runtime in abject terror.

The New Exhibit

In most Twilight Zone episodes, there isn't any gore or body count to speak of - this was '60s network television, after all - but a gleeful exception to this rule is "The New Exhibit," starring Martin Balsam.

The episode follows the curator of a wax museum, who is forced to shelter the wax figures of famous murderers (e.g., Jack the Ripper) in his basement when the museum closes down. The figures are astonishingly lifelike - almost too lifelike...

It's not particularly lurid by modern standards, but it still makes for a fun time, especially since this is one of those hour-long episodes from Season 4.


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