Happy Holidays from The Twilight Zone!
Rod Serling was born on Christmas Day, 1924, in Syracuse, New York. “I was a Christmas present that was delivered unwrapped,” Serling once stated. It is around the holidays that The Twilight Zone, Serling’s peculiar and beloved television show that ran for five seasons from 1959 to 1964, comes back into our lives like an apparition in search of closure. The haunting show marathons on New Year’s Eve at the dawn of a new year, a new era, as many become weary yet hopeful for what the next year will have in store.
Holiday episodes of The Twilight Zone showcase the anxiety we feel when change is imminent. Serling offers us a choice: watch and confront your fears, or flee. As is indicative of the popularity of The Twilight Zone marathon for the past several New Year’s Eves, we willingly enter the dimension of sight, sound, and mind willingly, where nothing is as it seems.
All of the following episodes (except the honorable mention) stress the importance of children’s sensibilities – to dream, to be hopeful, and to wonder. The children in these episodes hold the key to how to survive as an adult. They remind us never to lose the senses that kept us on the edge of our seats, easily delighted, eager to love, and be inspired.
Let us ring in the holiday season with the fruits of Serling’s expansive imagination with some of the best episodes of the iconic television show SPOILER FREE, all themed around the holidays!
“The Night of the Meek”
Premiered December 23, 1960
Season Two, Episode 11
Directed by Jack Smight
Written by Rod Serling
Introductory Narration: This is Mr. Henry Corwin, normally unemployed, who once a year takes the lead role in the uniquely American institution, that of department-store Santa Claus in a road-company version of ‘The Night Before Christmas.’ But in just a moment, Mr. Henry Corwin, ersatz Santa Claus, will enter a strange kind of North Pole which is one part the wondrous spirit of Christmas and one part the magic that can only be found in … the Twilight Zone.”
This is the quintessential Twilight Zone Christmas episode. Now adored by audiences, this series entry was once the cause of a barrage of angry letters from a concerned viewer accusing the show of blasphemy for depicting a drunk Santa on television. Despite this claim, “The Night of the Meek” is as pure as The Twilight Zone can be. According to Mark Scott Zicree in his book The Twilight Zone Companion (1982), the kids hired as extras had a blast shooting this episode and were full of excitement and joy. It will not disappoint.
“The Changing of the Guard”
Premiered June 1, 1962
Season Three, Episode 37
Directed by Robert Ellis Miller
Written by Rod Serling
Introductory Narration: “Professor Ellis Fowler, a gentle, bookish guide to the young, who is about to discover that life still has certain surprises and that the campus of the Rock Springs School for Boys lies on a direct path to another institution, commonly referred to as the Twilight Zone.”
If you have ever felt like you haven’t made a difference in someone’s life, especially in a profession involving working with children and adolescents, this episode is for you. Prof. Ellis Fowler is forced to retire from teaching before the holiday break. Distraught, he intends to end it all when the unlikely occurs, as it does in the Twilight Zone.
“Five Characters in Search of an Exit”
Premiered December 22, 1961
Season Three, Episode 14
Directed by Lamont Jackson
Written by Rod Serling
Introductory Narration: “Clown, hobo, ballet dancer, bagpiper, and an army major— a collection of question marks. Five improbable entities stuck together in a pit of darkness. No logic, no reason, no explanation; just a prolonged nightmare in which fear, loneliness, and the unexplainable walk hand in hand through the shadows. In a moment we’ll start collecting clues as to the ways, the whats, and the wheres. We will not end the nightmare, we’ll only explain it — because this is the Twilight Zone.”
The opening narration for this episode appears to reveal nothing but indeed says it all. You will figure out why these eclectic characters are in this bleak cylindrical precipice by the end of the episode. Prepare for a Descartes-inspired existential crisis.
“Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?”
Premiered May 26, 1961
Season Two, Episode 28
Directed by Montgomery Pittman
Written by Rod Serling
Introductory Narration: “Wintry February night, the present. Order of events: a phone call from a frightened woman notating the arrival of an unidentified flying object, then the checkout you’ve just witnessed, with two state troopers verifying the event – but with nothing more enlightening to add beyond evidence of some tracks leading across the highway to a diner. You’ve heard of trying to find a needle in a haystack? Well, stay with us now, and you’ll be part of an investigating team whose mission is not to find that proverbial needle, no, their task is even harder. They’ve got to find a Martian in a diner, and in just a moment you’ll search with them because you’ve just landed – in The Twilight Zone.”
This is one of my favorite episodes of the series. Passengers from a bus forced to stop due to a snowstorm find themselves in a local diner. Police officers enter in search of a person/alien alleged to have exited a crashed flying saucer nearby. This is a classic “Who Done It?” situation, as all the diner patrons begin suspecting one another of being an alien from the planet Mars. The alien is revealed near the end of the episode, but they are not who you would suspect. A classic Serling twist!
You can stream all Twilight Zone episodes on Paramount+.
CREEPSHOW SEASON 4 is Coming—”The Most Fun You’ll Ever Have Being Scared” Is Back! [TRAILER]
Friday the 13th this year marks the return of a classic horror spectacle—and not that guy in the hockey mask. We’re talking about Creepshow!
We’re getting a fourth season of the Shudder fan favorite Creepshow, produced by Brian Witten and Greg Nicotero, the horror makeup legend who became a household name for his work on From Dusk Til Dawn and The Walking Dead. The anthology series is back with a new array of 6 frightening short stories of supernatural delight, and with Creepshow, we’re sure to get monsters both mundane and mystical, bringing terror to the small screen.
Just as the franchise began with George A. Romero’s 1982 film, the Creepshow series retains that classic feeling of being under the covers with a flashlight and an old EC horror comic. The first three seasons gave us campy, gory fun, which the trailer proves is still plentiful in this run of episodes. And you can watch that trailer right here!
Get ready for wild werewolves, vicious vampires, and rare rotoscope nightmares. Also, Tom Atkins is there! Neat.
It debuts on Shudder, AMC+, and the AMC channel. All 6 episodes will be available to stream on AMC+ and Shudder, while it releases on a weekly basis for cable viewers (at 10:00pm, EST and 9:00pm CST). So, remember to mark your calendars for this premiere: Friday, October 13th.
See you on the other side of the release date, reader, and stay tuned for more news here on Horror Press!
Help Make the Paranormal Queer Again!
A team of queer filmmakers is exploring the weirdest corners of the paranormal—and they’ve launched a Kickstarter to make their shows a reality.
A Fresh New Take on the Paranormal
What comes to mind when you think of paranormal television? A group of dudes yelling at ghosts? Hackneyed narratives about banishing demons and sending spirits “to the light”? Most mainstream paranormal shows have gone stale, falling back on profitable formulas that the networks prefer, even if that means leaving the weirdest parts of the story on the cutting room floor.
Two new queer paranormal TV shows, New Blood and Inhuman Beings, want to change that. Renowned occult expert Michelle Belanger (Paranormal State, Portals to Hell, Conjuring Kesha, Monsterquest, and more) and paranormal podcaster Fen Alankus (Follow the Woo) have teamed up with a crew of film professionals and paranormal investigators to take an honest, fresh look at the strange and unusual.
Encounter a Secret Society of Vampires
The documentary series New Blood follows a film crew that sets out to learn about a secret society of Vampires. When paranormal podcaster and witch Fen Alankus meets two modern-day Vampires, she follows a string of bizarre coincidences all the way down the rabbit hole. With the help of spellwork, she pulls together an investigative film crew and digs into the world of modern vampirism. What began as a look at the true nature of Vampires becomes an intense initiatory experience for the cast and crew.
Explore Haunted Locations
The paranormal investigation series Inhuman Beings explores a new location with a reputation for high strangeness in each episode. But this is no ordinary ghost-hunting show: the team tries new methods and is open to anything, looking at cryptids, the fae, aliens, ghosts, and more. Season one includes experiments using dream sigils to communicate with entities, crossing a remote river to traverse land ruled by the fae, and investigating a strange castle with a mysterious past.
A Kickstarter Badge of Approval
Slated for a Fall/Winter 2023 release, the first seasons of both shows are underway, with more than 100 hours of footage shot so far. In celebration of Pride Month, they’ve launched a Kickstarter to raise funds for the rest of the filming, editing, marketing, and distribution. Less than a week into their campaign, Kickstarter hand-picked New Blood TV as a “Project We Love,” which is Kickstarter’s way of highlighting standout projects that go the extra mile regarding quality, creative vision, and boosting underrepresented voices.
Rewards for Kickstarter backers include magically imbued Ouija planchettes, Bigfoot and Pride Demon T-shirts, subtle-body portrait readings, bonus and behind-the-scenes content, executive producer credit, guest spots on their shows, and more.
Spread the word and help make the paranormal queer again!