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Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Twilight Zone- Night Call

     You just cannot beat "The Twilight Zone" for sheer creepiness.  As a whole, many episodes were uneven at best- but when "The Twilight Zone" was on target, oh boy, was it.  Case in point- "Night Call".  "Night Call" is the story of invalid Elva Keene, who's crippled and lonely and miserable- until suddenly and mysteriously she starts getting strange phone calls late at night. There's nothing on the line but sounds of an older man groaning, which greatly disturbs her after the second and third calls.  Nobody seems to believe her, and soon she and the viewer start to question her sanity. Or is it all real?  It's based on the sensational story by the legendary Richard Matheson- the man responsible for such writing such gems as "Trilogy Of Terror", "Die! Die! My Darling!", "Duel", "Kolchak: The Night Stalker", "The Devil Rides Out", "The Incredible Shrinking Man", "The Legend Of Hell House", and "Stir Of Echoes", just to name a few.  I know, right? 

     On top of all that, it's directed by legendary horror director Jacques Tournier, who makes this story rich with possibilities and drenches it in extraordinarily unnerving atmosphere.  This episode packs a punch of gutteral terror.  It's disorienting and scary to be awoken in the middle of the night by a phone call anyway, because it's usually bad news.  But to hear nothing but silence, then a low, unearthly moaning coming from the other line, time after time... is terrifying.  

     It's  a masterpiece of suspenseful storytelling, and one of the best "Twilight Zone" episodes of all time. "Night Call" is simple and terrifying.  As viewers, we feel old Elva's fear- and feel every bit as alone as frightened as she does.  Each ring of the phone sends chills down your spine as she becomes more and more helpless to the situation.  It's fantastic.  This was extremely scary stuff back as a child, and it's just as spooky today.  The ending is classic "Twilight Zone", and still packs a wallop.  It's sad that there hasn't been anything this smart on tv since "The Twilight Zone".  I doubt there ever will be.

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