The Wondrous Dimension Of Imagination

Last year, I had a Twilight Zone mini-marathon to celebrate Halloween night. Since I enjoyed it so much, and Halloween is still in the middle of the week, I’m having one again this year. In 2008, Halloween is on a Friday, so I’ll probably revert to my traditional triple feature of horror movies.

Here are the episodes I’ve selected for this year’s journey into that land of both shadow and substance known as The Twilight Zone.

“Spur of the Moment”
Aired: February 21, 1964
Written by Richard Matheson
Starring: Diana Hyland
Directed by Elliot Silverstein

Young Anne Henderson (Diana Hyland) is terrified when a black-clad woman on horseback pursues her across the countryside screaming her name. Anne does not know who the woman is or why she is after her.

“Soon enough, she will be given the solution to this twofold mystery, but in a manner far beyond her present capacity to understand, a manner enigmatically bizarre in terms of time and space, which is to say an answer from the Twilight Zone,” notes Rod Serling in the opening.

Though legendary writer Richard Matheson penned over a dozen of the best Twilight Zones, he apparently did not care very much for the execution of this episode. Nevertheless, I chose this one for its dark, almost gothic visual quality.

“Little Girl Lost”
Aired: March 16, 1962
Written by Richard Matheson
Starring: Charles Aidman
Directed by Paul Stewart

Six-year-old Tina vanishes from her house, but her parents still hear her cries.

“Present location? Let’s say for the moment, in the Twilight Zone.”

Another top-notch episode from Matheson, the chilling “Little Girl Lost” surely inspired parts of 1982’s Poltergeist–which Zone fan Steven Spielberg co-wrote.

“The Hitch-Hiker”
Aired: January 22, 1960
Written by Rod Serling and Lucille Fletcher
Starring: Inger Stevens
Directed by Alvin Ganzer

While driving alone cross-country, Nan Adams (Inger Stevens) keeps encountering the same, strange hitchhiker on the side of the road beckoning to her.

“Nan Adams’ companion on a trip to California will be terror. Her route: fear. Her destination: quite unknown.”

(I bet you thought Serling would say, “Her destination: the Twilight Zone.”) Masterfully directed, this is a frightening take on the hitchhiker urban legend.

Aired: February 19, 1960
Written by Charles Beaumont
Starring: Cecil Kellaway
Directed by Douglas Heyes

“The time is the day after tomorrow. The place, a far corner of the universe.”

Nearly out of fuel, three lost astronauts land on an asteroid that is amazingly Earth-like–except that all of the people are frozen in place.

Though they are dated in terms of accuracy, I always enjoy Twilight Zone’s space exploration stories. This is one I haven’t watched as often as, say, “I Shot Arrow Into The Air” or “And When The Sky Was Opened,” so I’m looking forward to seeing it again.

“The Masks”
Aired: March 20, 1964
Written by Rod Serling
Starring: Robert Keith
Directed by Ida Lupino

Knowing that he is near death, a rich old man summons his greedy family members to his home on the night of Mardis Gras. He forces them to wear specially made masks indicative of their inner selves until midnight or be disinherited.

“This is New Orleans, Mardis Gras time. It is also the Twilight Zone.”

Many people feel uneasy about wearing masks and perhaps this episode, one of the best, explains why.

Whether you’re in Haddonfield, IL, Springwood, OH, Camp Crystal Lake, NJ, or somewhere in the Twilight Zone, try to have a safe and happy Halloween.

(Source for episode info and quotes: The Twilight Zone Companion: Second Edition by Marc Scott Zicree, 1989.)