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Monday, August 30, 2010

From Beyond Television: The Twilight Zone


...Going my way?

This is a new column that highlights various episodes from television shows of the science fiction, fantasy and horror variety. Some of the shows that will creep, or beam up on here are STAR TREK (original series) THE TWILIGHT ZONE (original series), BUCK ROGERS, PLANET OF THE APES, THE WILD, WILD WEST, NIGHT GALLERY, THE ADDAMS FAMILY, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (original series) and ULTRAMAN (the first series).

First up is a double dose of TWILIGHT ZONE tales from the frightful first season!

THE TWILIGHT ZONE Season 1 episode 15 ***1/2


The first manned space flight crashes into an unknown asteroid. Four men survive, but one soon passes away. With nothing but rocks and hot desert around them, the remaining three make the trek to find food and water. One of the men is later found near death. Before expiring, he draws a symbol in the dirt. Realizing one of his men isn't above murder, the last two seek out the symbol their comrade had marked in the sand.

THE TWILIGHT ZONE was amazing at poetic justice, or smacking the audience in the face with a shock ending. This episode contains both. Serling's groundbreaking fantasy horror programmer one of the few vintage television shows that still contains the power to unnerve its viewers. Those familiar with this show will note the similarities to the Serling scripted PLANET OF THE APES (1968). From the barren wasteland to the barely alive crew members to the totally shocking ending, 'I Shot An Arrow Into the Air' is notable for a variety of reasons.

The director, Stuart Rosenberg, also helmed movies such as COOL HAND LUKE (1967), VOYAGE OF THE DAMNED (1976), the Charles Bronson crime thriller LOVE & BULLETS (1979) and the horror hit THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (1979).

THE TWILIGHT ZONE Season 1 episode 16 ***


Nan Adams is on a cross country road trip headed back home to California. A flat tire having slowed her down, she gets back on the road and notices a shabby old man on the highway thumbing a ride. Passing him, she notices the same man miles down the road and seemingly everywhere else she goes. Frightened beyond belief, Nan is convinced this mysterious figure is out to kill her.

This is one of the most simplistic of all the TZ shows, yet it's very suspenseful especially if you don't know the ending ahead of time. Over the years there's been a number of movies that have borrowed this shows denouement. Serling's program was also good at making an episode interesting with just a single character (WHERE IS EVERYBODY?) or with very little dialog (TWO).

Actress, Inger Stevens successfully conveys fear as Nan. Those she comes into contact with believe her to be crazy after her paranoia escalates with each occurrence of seeing the strange hitch-hiker on the highway. Stevens had previously co-starred with Harry Belafonte and Mel Ferrer in the provocative and classic end of the world movie THE WORLD, THE FLESH & THE DEVIL (1959).



Fang Shih-yu said...

Great choicess!

Inger Stevens was underrated as an actress because of her stunning looks! The Hitch-hiker" is a showcase of her talent!

Could "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street" be next as a follow-up selection, if you return to TTZ?

venoms5 said...

Oh yeah, Fang. I got all five seasons so I got plenty of TZ stuff to do. Got a bunch of other shows for this column, too!

Traie said...

Re watching The Hitch Hiker recently I realized how much it would have benefited if were one of the latter season hour longs just to flesh it out a tad and build even more suspense.

Still one of the best episodes of the series, so well shot and acted.

venoms5 said...

Yes, and very little dialog, too. This episode spooked me as a kid.

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