It's amazing how much good content you find when you go looking for it on the internet. One such gem is The Twilight Zone series (1959 -1961). It is a collection of stories that involve science fiction, psychological horror, and more.
Rod Serling is the creator and writer of the series who has given the program's eerie feel. Other writers on this TV series include Bill Idelson and Montgomery Pittman. The twilight zone's black and white format (standard at the time) adds a layer of mystery and horror. Also, the slightly campy practical special effects along with the eerie background score set the mood perfectly.
Rod Serling created this lasting piece of cinematic art when he took it on himself to scare the bejesus out of people throughout the world. This anthology series has held up and aged well even after half a century of television innovation.
The actors in this series have gone on to have amazing careers in television and movies ranging from William Shatner in Star Trek to the beautiful Inger Stevens in Hang 'Em High starring Clint Eastwood.
Since this is an anthology of stories strung together with certain common themes and plot devices it is best to classify them. Since most stories are based on one or more themes I have listed them.
These are recurring themes in this series:
1. The MacGuffin - An object or event that is central to the plot of the movie/series. This might be an everyday object imbued with magical properties or technology that's beyond the realm of possibility.
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2. Time Loops/Time Travel - The characters go through a sequence of events repeatedly in time or travel forward or backward in time.
3. Supernatural events/presence - Phenomena or entities that cannot be explained by the laws of nature. This may be ghosts or spirits, or even if the story is based on the afterlife.
4. Human nature itself - This is probably the scariest of all themes considering it is based entirely on human behavior and the tragedy it brings. These episodes highlight how people can turn on each other when the chips are down. Examples are mob mentality, survival situations, mass paranoia, and more.
5. Psychological horror - This is different from the theme mentioned above as it deals with people who are having a mental breakdown, undergoing psychosis, or deteriorating into dementia.
6. Parallel realities/dystopian societies - Here is a particularly important theme where the episode's story is based on a reality that is significantly different from what we inhabit. Here things like social hierarchies might be reversed and society may take on an Orwellian twist with tyranny winning over freedom.
The best series episodes often combine two or more of these themes to provide a highly potent scare. Some episodes just involve replacing man's dominance as a species in the plot. In some cases, the plot is really simple but the execution is so brilliant that it keeps you hooked right until the end to see what theme Serling uses to wrap up the episode.
There are even a few episodes that are comedic in nature and come as a welcome surprise to the viewers. It might be to subvert audience expectations once in a while when it was being aired and change up the tempo for a bigger-than-expected laugh.
Weren't There Other Reboots of The Twilight Zone?
While there have been two other reboots of The Twilight Zone, one is not nearly as good as the original and the other is just awful. The 2019 reboot of the Rod Serling classic anthology paid homage to the genius of the sci-fi horror with good quality plot and execution. The 80's version of The Twilight Zone is so bad that can't even be classified as a B-grade TV series. It's just terrible with bad timing, worse music, wooden actors, and a glacial pace.
Should You Watch It? Yes - At least one complete series
The Twilight Zone has five series with 30+ episodes of pure spine-chilling and scary fun. I recommend everyone to stream it online or download using torrents and give it a watch. I promise you won't be disappointed!
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