Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Wednesday Comics (April 1, 2020)

The Twilight Zone #34
"Beware the Kewpie Dolls"
Script: unknown
Pencils & Inks: John Celardo 
Cover: George Wilson 




Monday, March 23, 2020

Reading Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine, Part 20


We’ve made it a third of the way through our issue-by-issue look at Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine. In this series we take a detailed look at each issue. For our capsule history of the magazine, go here.

Volume 2, Number 8 (November, 1982)
Cover art: Bruce Heapps

TZ Publications, Inc.
President & Chairman: S. Edward Orenstein
Secretary/Treasurer: Sidney Z. Gellman
Executive Vice-Presidents: Leon Garry, Eric Protter
Executive Publisher: S. Edward Orenstein
Publisher: Leon Garry
Associate Publisher and Consulting Editor: Carol Serling
Editorial Director: Eric Protter
Editor: T.E.D. Klein
Managing Editor: Jane Bayer
Assistant Editor: Robert Sabat
Editorial Assistant: Judy Linden
Contributing Editors: Thomas M. Disch, Gahan Wilson
Design Director: Michael Monte
Art Director: Wendy Mansfield
Art Production: Susan Lindeman, Carol Sun, Lori Hollander
Typesetting: Irma Landazuri
Production Director: Stephen J. Fallon
Controller: Thomas Schiff
Ass’t to the Publisher: Penny Layne
Public Relations Mgr.: Jeffrey Nickora
Accounting Mgr.: Chris Grossman
Accounting Ass’t: Annmarie Pistilli
Office Ass’t: Zuleyma Guevara
Circulation Director: William D. Smith
Circulation Mgr.: Carole A. Harley
Circulation Ass’t: Katherine Lys
Northeastern Cirulation Manager: Jacqueline Doyle
Eastern Circ. Mgr.: Hank Rosen
West Coast Circ. Mgr.: Gary Judy
Advertising Manager: Rachel Britapaja
Adv. Production Manager: Marina Despotakis
Advertising Representatives: Barney O’Hara & Associates

Contents:
--In the Twilight Zone: “Unmasking time . . .” by T.E.D. Klein
--Other Dimensions: Screen by Gahan Wilson
--Other Dimensions: Books by Thomas M. Disch
--Other Dimensions: The ‘Heroes & Heavies’ Quiz by Kathleen Murray
--Other Dimensions: War in Fantasyland by Baird Searles
--Other Dimensions: Etc.
--The Evil Dead (review) by Stephen King
--John Carpenter: Doing His Own Thing (interview) by James Verniere
--“Hell Is Murky” by John Alfred Taylor
--Required Reading: “Levitation” by Joseph Payne Brennan
--“The Opening” by Bruce Boston
--TZ Screen Preview: Halloween III by James Verniere
--Country of the Dead by Randy Chisholm (photos) & John Bensink (text)
--“Night Cry” by Katherine M. Turney
--“The Spook Man” by Al Sarrantonio
--“The Circle” by Lewis Shiner
--“Halloween Girl” by Robert Grant
--“The Screenplay” by Joseph Cromarty
--“The Smell of Cherries” by Jeffrey Goddin
--Show-by-Show Guide: TV’s Twilight Zone: Party Twenty by Marc Scott Zicree
--TZ Classic Teleplay: “A Quality of Mercy” by Rod Serling
--Looking Ahead: In December’s TZ

--In the Twilight Zone: “Unmasking time . . .” by T.E.D Klein

T.E.D. Klein
-Klein gets straight to the contributor bios in this Halloween-themed issue. Among the highlights: the return of Gahan Wilson as films reviewer, an essay on The Evil Dead by Stephen King, an interview with John Carpenter, required reading from Joseph Payne Brennan, Halloween stories by Al Sarrantonio, Lewis Shiner, and Robert Grant, a preview of Halloween III, and a feature on unusual epitaphs. The “Unmasking time” of the title refers to Klein’s inclusion of photographs of some of the TZ Magazine staff. There are photos of Klein, publisher Leon Garry, editorial director Eric Protter, managing editor Jane Bayer, assistant editor Robert Sabat, art department members Susan Lindeman, Lori Hollander, Michael Monte, Wendy Mansfield, Carol Sun, and Irma Landazuri, production director Stephen J. Fallon, and advertising production manager Marina Despotakis.

--Other Dimensions: Screen by Gahan Wilson

Poltergeist
-Feeling ambitious upon his return to the magazine, Wilson reviews three notable films: E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial (1982), The Thing (1982), and Poltergeist (1982). Since E.T. and The Thing feature aliens as characters, Wilson expounds upon the pros and cons of what he terms the “NHL,” or non-human lead, especially as it refers to E.T. Wilson is enthusiastic in his review of Steven Spielberg’s film, especially the performances of child actors Henry Thomas and Drew Barrymore, the special effects from Carlo Rimbaldi, Spielberg’s direction, and the script by Melissa Mathison, the writer who rewrote Richard Matheson’s adaptation of George Clayton Johnson’s “Kick the Can” for Twilight Zone: the Movie (1983). Wilson’s review of John Carpenter’s The Thing (subject of the TZ Screen Preview in the July, 1982 issue) is largely positive with particular praise for the script from Bill Lancaster, Rob Bottin’s special makeup effects, and the successful updating of the material. Wilson takes issue with the design of the spaceship upon which the Thing arrives on Earth, feeling that it does not makes sense for the amorphous physiology of the Thing to be able to pilot such a vehicle. Fan theories have suggested that the Thing arrived as a stowaway on the spacecraft, having attacked and absorbed the lifeform onboard. John Carpenter, the director of The Thing, is the interview subject in this issue. Finally, Wilson tackles the funhouse spook film Poltergeist, directed by Tobe Hooper and produced by Steven Spielberg. Wilson praises the cast but finds fault with the film’s kitchen-sink approach, throwing everything at the viewer while taking little time to explain anything. The film’s troubled production is also briefly touched upon.

--Other Dimensions: Books by Thomas M. Disch
-Disch is in acerbic form in this review column as he cuttingly examines four novels. Disch first takes his critical knife to Mickelsson’s Ghosts by John Gardner. Disch writes: “Gardner writes precisely the sort of over-earnest, symbol-laden tome that is to the college writers’ workshop what the Model A was to Detroit. I can imagine no one reading Mickelsson’s Ghosts with pleasure except the more plodding students of Creative Writing, whose faith in the eventual triumph of the patient imitation of approved models finds in Gardner a kind of messiah.” Richard A. by Sol Yurick fares little better under Disch’s critical eye. The prose style is Disch’s primary point of contention and he offers an excerpt of purple prose as example. His final judgment: “It’s only paper. Burn it.” Disch also suggests burning John Shirley’s Cellars, a horror novel currently gaining new and appreciative readers through a resurgence of interest in paperback horror novels of the 1980s. Disch is not a fan, however, and concludes this way: “So it goes, the grue alternating with the hokum for 295 pages of prose that is eighty-five percent pulp padding and fifteen percent amplified scream. There is, I will admit, an aesthetic to screaming, and Shirley’s shriller screams can get to your crystal ware, but screaming is, as a general rule, less effective on the printed page than in rock music, where the silly lyrics are blessedly incomprehensible and the beat goes on. Novels, alas, don’t have a rhythm section to keep them moving – so when the pages refuse to turn: burn, baby, burn.” The final book under the knife is Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard. Disch characterizes the book as “to other, ordinary dumb books what a Dyson sphere is to an ordinary lampshade – awesomely much bigger, though not different in kind.” Disch criticizes the bits of autobiography that Hubbard includes in the opening of the book, as well as the old-fashioned feel of the novel. Disch admits, however, that the novel will almost certainly be a critical and commercial success. A large advertisement for Battlefield Earth is featured at the end of the column. Disch included a portion of this review column, the section dealing with Hubbard’s Battlefield Earth, in his 2005 essay collection On SF.

--Other Dimensions: The ‘Heroes & Heavies’ Quiz by Kathleen Murray
-The quiz this month challenges the reader to match the hero or heroine of horror movies with the bad guys who terrorize them. Below are the quiz and the answers for those who wish to take the challenge.




 --Other Dimensions: War in Fantasyland by Baird Searles
Illustration by Jonathan Lewis
-Searles (1934-1993) was the proprietor of the now-defunct Science Fiction Shop in Manhattan as well as a books, films, and technology reviewer for several science fiction magazines. Here he examines the history of fantasy fandom among readers and the ways in which this fandom was changed, expanded, and challenged by the greater emergence of fantasy in films and television, particularly where it concerns Star Trek fandom. Searles explains how fantasy first became a publishing category, the birth of fantasy conventions and how film and television have changed conventions, the different types of fantasy readers, differences in expectations between readers and viewers, and the ways in which films and television have influenced books, and vice versa.

--Other Dimensions: Etc.

-The miscellany column this month finds the use of the “popular phrase” the “twilight zone” in a newspaper article from the May 6, 1915 issue of the Niagara Falls, NY Gazette, an increase in orders for the music examined by Jack Sullivan in his recently-ended music column, more gargoyle sightings in NYC (right), an article on a child born “in the twilight zone” when changes in time zones puts his birthdate at odds with his admittance to the proper school grade, a limerick by Edward Lear which includes “E.T.,” a frequently-sited article on the N.A.A.C.P. which contains the term “Twilight Zone,” and a listing of unusually named cities, towns, and places across the U.S., such as The Boneyard, Arizona, Midnight, Mississippi, and Skeleton, Oklahoma.

--‘‘‘The Evil Dead’ Why you haven’t seen it yet . . . and why you ought to” by Stephen King
“While on the scene at Cannes, the author stumbled upon – well, not gold, exactly, but plenty of great gore.

-This is one of the more notable reviews in horror film history. King’s review of director Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead resulted from the author having attended a screening of the film at the Cannes Film Festival where the film screened out of competition. King’s quote of “the most ferociously original horror film of the year” was used on the film’s theatrical release poster and other marketing material. The quote was as follows: “that he has made the most ferociously original horror film of 1982 seems to me beyond doubt.” King uses the word “genius” when discussing the film and its director while also acknowledging the film’s derivative nature and its debt to such films as Night of the Living Dead and The Exorcist. When King viewed the film at Cannes, it was still struggling to find theatrical distribution and had only been viewed at occasional screenings. The film was eventually released simultaneously in theaters by New Line Cinema and on VHS home video. It has become a classic of the modern horror film, spawning two sequels, Evil Dead II (1987) and Army of Darkness (1992), a television series, Ash vs Evil Dead (2015-2018), comic books, toys, and more. The production of the film has been exhaustively documented in publications like Fangoria as well as in supplementary material on the film’s various home video releases. King’s review is a bit of production history, a bit of introduction to the filmmakers and performers, a bit of detail about the film’s struggle for distribution, and a bit of critique.

--John Carpenter: Doing His Own Thing by James Verniere
“With Firestarter still ahead, The Thing’s director talks about his lifelong love of horror movies, the spate of films spawned by his Halloween, and the perils of remaking – or appearing to remake – a cult classic.”

-James Verniere provides a concise but detailed account of John Carpenter’s career before getting into the interview. He begins by asking the director about his formative years, from an early childhood interest in film and horror to his university days at the USC film school. Each of Carpenter’s films is then discussed in turn, from the early film Dark Star, made for $60,000 while at USC, to the critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful action thriller Assault on Precinct 13, to the awesomely successful Halloween, and concluding with discussions of Escape from New York, The Fog, and the recently completed The Thing. Each film is discussed in the context of Carpenter’s inspiration, process, and sociological view. Carpenter clarifies his level of participation in Halloween II, details what viewers can expect from Halloween III, and provides his view on the spate of slasher films which arrived in the wake of Halloween’s success. Carpenter speaks in detail about The Thing, from the impetus to remake a classic to his approach in updating the material. The interview concludes with Carpenter discussing film projects he planned to make. These projects were either made much later, never made, or were made without Carpenter’s involvement, including The Philadelphia Experiment (made in 1984 without Carpenter’s involvement), a weird western titled El Diablo (released in 1990 with Carpenter as co-writer and executive producer), and, most tantalizingly, an adaptation of Stephen King’s Firestarter, which was made without Carpenter’s involvement in 1984.

--“Hell Is Murky” by John Alfred Taylor
Illustrated by Steve Byram
“They say it’s nice to have a cult following. But not this kind of following. And not this cult.”

-A cartoonist recently moved to Los Angeles believes himself the victim of an insidious cult whose agents stalk him and whose powers extend to altering reality. When he discovers a notebook belonging to a cult member in his new home he sets up a fateful meeting with the cult’s leader.

-This was an excellent and creative story which struck that otherworldly chord which will appeal to TZ fans. The imagery is David Lynchian in its approach and the snap ending is capably handled. John Alfred Taylor (b. 1931) previously appeared in the pages of TZ with the story “When the Cat’s Away . . .” in the September, 1981 issue. Taylor appeared again with “Like a Black Dandelion” in the Sept/Oct, 1983 issue and “The Weight of Zero” in the Jan/Feb, 1985 issue. Taylor is a prolific short fiction writer, mainly of horror and dark fantasy fiction, the best of which was collected by Ash Tree Press in the 2008 volume Hell Is Murky: Twenty Strange Tales. “Hell Is Murky” was reprinted in the Summer, 1985 issue of Night Cry.

--Required Reading: “Levitation” by Joseph Payne Brennan
Illustrated by Edward Gorey
“A classic tale in which we learn that the supernatural world has its own merciless version of Murphy’s Law.”


-A hypnotist at a country fair challenges a heckler to come on stage and subject himself to the trick of levitation. When the hypnotist has a heart attack during the trick, the unconscious, levitating man continues to rise into the night sky.

-Joseph Payne Brennan (1918-1990) was the last great name in horror fiction to emerge from the pages of Weird Tales, selling a handful of stories to the pulp magazine between 1952 and its demise in 1954. He is a personal favorite of mine and, though his work can be difficult to find, I highly recommend Brennan to anyone who enjoys well-told, traditional tales of horror and mystery. Brennan was also a prolific and award-winning poet, a mystery writer whose stories appeared regularly in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, an essayist and expert on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, and worked for forty years as an acquisitions assistant at Yale’s Sterling Memorial Library. “Levitation” first appeared in Brennan’s 1959 Arkham House collection Nine Horrors and a Dream, published in paperback in 1962 with a memorable cover by Richard Powers. The collection was reprinted in 2019 by Dover. The Edward Gorey illustration first accompanied the tale with its appearance in the 1968 anthology Hauntings: Tales of the Supernatural, edited by Henry Mazzeo. The story was adapted for the first season of Tales from the Darkside from a script by David Gerrold, directed by John Harrison, broadcast May 19, 1985. Brennan’s stories “Murder on the Rocks” and “Goodbye, Dr. Bliss” were adapted for the second season of Boris Karloff’s Thriller as “The Lethal Ladies,” scripted by Boris Sobelman, directed by Ida Lupino, broadcast April 16, 1962.

Cover by Kirk Reineret
illustrating "Slime"
-Nine Horrors and a Dream also included much of Brennan’s best work, including the unforgettable “Slime,” a 1953 Weird Tales cover story which was likely an inspiration for the film The Blob (1958), “The Calamander Chest,” about a beckoning, ghostly finger, “Canavan’s Back Yard,” about a deadly plot of land and a witch’s curse (Brennan wrote a sequel to the tale, “Canavan Calling,” in 1985), and “The Mail for Juniper Hill,” a devilish tale of life beyond death. Much of Brennan’s output was self-published by his Macabre House imprint under which Brennan also published a Weird Tales-like magazine titled Macabre for nearly twenty years between 1957 and 1976. Along with Nine Horrors and a Dream, Brennan’s most readily available collection is The Shapes of Midnight (Berkley, 1980; reprinted by Dover in 2019 minus two tales). The original edition included an introduction from Stephen King in which King admitted Brennan’s influence on his own work: “Joseph Payne Brennan is one of the most effective writers in the horror genre, and he is certainly one of the writers I have patterned my own career upon.” King appropriated the name of a fictional town in Brennan’s works, Juniper Hill, for the name of the fictional insane asylum in his own works. The Shapes of Midnight included such stories as “The Corpse of Charlie Rull,” a fast-paced, gruesome, and undeservedly neglected zombie tale, “The Willow Platform,” a tale of ironic revenge in the style of E.C. Comics, “The Horror at Chilton Castle,” a tale of a vampire legacy, and the Twilight Zone-esque “The House on Hazel Street,” in which a woman is drawn into the past through the power of her memories.

--“The Opening” by Bruce Boston
Illustrated by Annie Alleman
“They were strangers in the night. And one of them was very strange.”

-After a fight with his wife, a man walks to a hillside in the nighttime where he is soon joined by an odd-looking man walking an odd-looking dog. The odd-looking man talks about the stars and the opportunity to voyage to outer space for anyone willing to take the journey. Later, the man believes the encounter to have been a dream, until he finds his wife missing.

-This was a slight but enjoyable story with a snap ending from Bruce Boston (b. 1943), who is likely the most honored modern speculative poet. His poetry has won multiple Rhysling, Asimov’s Readers’, and Bram Stoker Awards as well as the first Grandmaster Award from the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Boston is equally adept at prose and his stories have appeared in numerous magazines, large and small press alike. “The Opening” was collected in Skin Trades (1988).

--TZ Screen Preview: Halloween III by James Verniere
“This year’s entry in the seasonal horror sweepstakes combines Celtic magic, microchips, and masks that transform more than just your looks. James Verniere reports.”

-Verniere begins with a potted history of Halloween, the holiday, before moving on to a brief examination of the first two Halloween films. Halloween III, of course, is remembered as the Halloween film without the masked killer Michael Myers. Instead, the plot focuses on the machinations of an evil mask-maker, played to perfection by Dan O'Herlihy, whose products transform and kill those who wear them. The film was initially poorly received but its reputation has improved in recent years as it has found a new and appreciative audience. The Halloween franchise was initially intended as an anthology film series, wherein each film would tell a different story set on Halloween. The popularity of the Michael Myers character was such that the Halloween films soon settled into a convoluted storyline to keep Myers terrorizing the town of Haddonfield, Illinois. Though uncredited in the finished film, Halloween III was co-scripted by Nigel Kneale, the British scriptwriter best-known for the Quatermass films and television productions such as The Stone Tape (1972) and the short-lived anthology series Beasts. Verniere gets behind Kneale’s process on scripting the third Halloween film and gets John Carpenter’s input on the proceedings as well. Finally, first-time director Tommy Lee Wallace, who previously served under Carpenter as editor and production designer, is briefly profiled. Wallace went on to direct three episodes of the first revival Twilight Zone series: “Dreams for Sale,” “Little Boy Lost,” and “The Leprechaun-Artist,” all from the first season.

--Country of the Dead by Randy Chisholm (photos) & John Bensink (text)
“The original ‘silent majority’ – the dead – may no longer be the majority. And they’re certainly not silent.”

-John Bensink, who previously appeared in TZ with the story “Midtown Bodies” in the August, 1982 issue, takes us through some of the more memorable epitaphs collected in American Epitaphs, Grave and Humorous by Charles L. Wallis (Dover, 1979), accompanied by evocative photographs from Chisholm. Wallis’ book was originally published in 1954 by Oxford University Press under the title Stories on Stone. Examples include:

On a marker in Paxton, Massachusetts, for Sidney Ellis, died 1836, age seven weeks:
He lived
He wept
He smiled
He groaned
And died.

On a marker in Westernville, New York, for William Reese, died 1872, age twenty-one:
This is what I expected but
Not so soon.

And more of the like.

--“Night Cry” by Katherine M. Turney
Illustrated by Lisa Mansolillo
“That yowling cat was keeping her awake. But what if it wasn’t a cat?”

-A woman is kept awake by a sound outside her apartment window which she cannot identify. The source of the sound establishes itself in an unexpectedly gruesome way.

-This short shocker with a nasty ending was the first, and possibly only, published story by Katherine M. Turney, whom T.E.D. Klein informs us managed movie theaters in Denver at the time this story was published. The title of the story was used for TZ Magazine’s sister publication, Night Cry, which was published from 1984-1987. Turney’s story was reprinted in the premier issue of Night Cry, accompanied by an illustration from D.W. Miller.

--“The Spook Man” by Al Sarrantonio
Uncredited illustration
“His cape was black, his eyes were hooded. And he was particularly fond of children.”


-A figure known as the Spook Man arrives in a small town and entices four monster-loving children to enter his haunted travelling home. The Spook Man’s home contains all manner of nightmare creatures and he has built his collection by transforming the children he brings into his home.

-Al Sarrantonio (b. 1952) appears again in TZ after last month’s “The Silly Stuff.” “The Spook Man” is prime Sarrantonio, combining the author’s love of Halloween, traditional images of horror and the macabre, and an engaging prose style to create a story which is partly nostalgic sweetness and partly an evocation of the sinister elements of the dark season. It is also a love letter to those of us who have always enjoyed monsters and horror stories and the like. Sarrantonio writes often on the subject of Halloween and “The Spook Man” is clearly an homage to Ray Bradbury’s many writings on the season, particularly in its poetic prose style. “The Spook Man” will recall Bradbury’s collection The October Country and, especially, his novel Something Wicked This Way Comes. “The Spook Man” was reprinted in the Fall, 1985 issue of Night Cry and collected in Toybox (1999).

--“The Circle” by Lewis Shiner
Illustrated by Peter Kuper
“It was the perfect story for Halloween – and let the reader beware!”


-A circle of friends gathers every Halloween night to read scary stories. This Halloween they receive a package from a fringe member of the group who was recently pushed out of the circle. The package contains a story to be read aloud. It concerns the group gathered on Halloween night and the act of reading the tale traps them in a fateful course of events.

-This was my favorite story in the issue, a simple yet chilling and exceedingly clever take on themes ranging from the occult, revenge, the tradition of oral storytelling, and the politics of social groups. The title refers to the term used to describe a group of friends as well as the effects of reading the outcast member’s tale. Lewis Shiner (b. 1950) previously appeared in TZ with the tales “Blood Relations,” in the May, 1981 issue, and “Tommy and the Talking Dog” in the July, 1982 issue. “The Circle” was Shiner’s final story for TZ though he appeared later with a story, “Dancers,” in the Summer, 1987 issue of TZ’s sister mag, Night Cry. “The Circle” was reprinted in two Halloween themed anthologies: 13 Horrors of Halloween (1983), edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg, and Carol-Lynn Rössel Waugh, and October Dreams (2000), edited by Richard Chizmar and Robert Morrish. Chizmar co-scripted a 2009 television adaptation of the story for the short-lived anthology series Fear Itself. The episode was the final in the series and did not air on network broadcast but was included when the series was collected on home video. Chizmar was assisted on the script by Johnathon Schaech and the episode was directed by Eduardo Rodriguez. The story was collected in Shiner’s Collected Stories (Subterranean Press, 2009).

--“Halloween Girl” by Robert Grant
Illustrated by Harry Pincus
“It was the season, the holiday, the night of nights. And come what may, he was going to spend it with her.”


-A young boy and a young girl bond over their shared love of monsters, horror, and Halloween. The young girl grows sick and dies, leaving the young boy forlorn. The boy grudgingly honors the customs of the next Halloween and afterwards visits the girl’s grave to leave her his bag of trick-or-treat candy. He wakes the following morning to evidence that she visited him later in the night.

-This story was a perfect example of a type of tale which is very hard to write, the gently spooky story. More touching than chilling, the ending of the tale still manages to satisfy much in the way of Ray Bradbury’s “The Emissary.” Like Lewis Shiner’s “The Circle,” Grant’s “Halloween Girl” was reprinted in 13 Horrors of Halloween (1983). Grant appeared later in TZ with the story “Where You Lead . . . I Will Follow” in the October, 1985 issue.

--“The Screenplay” by Joseph Cromarty
Illustrated by Yvonne Buchanan
“All this talk about werewolves . . . could Jack be trying to tell him something?”


-Roger surprises his friend Jack with a visit to discuss ideas for a screenplay. Jack seems uncomfortable with Roger’s unexpected visit and becomes increasingly agitated when Roger suggests a story about werewolves. In fact, Roger begins to believe that Jack may be a werewolf himself and makes a quick exit. Jack congratulates himself on being an actor as he got Roger to leave before Roger’s wife arrived at Jack’s place.

-This humorous story with an ironic ending is courtesy of Joseph Cromarty (1932-2016), who previously appeared with the Edgar Allan Poe spoof, “Ms. Found in a Bottle,” in the August, 1982 issue. Cromarty appeared twice more in TZ, with “The Neighborhood Assassin” and “Words, Words, Words,” both in the Jan/Feb, 1984 issue.

--“The Smell of Cherries” by Jeffrey Goddin
Illustrated by Michael Davis
“Something was spooking the night watchmen – and it wasn’t robbers. It was just . . .


-A security guard is terrorized by the frightening revenants which haunt a warehouse property which was once the site of nerve gas testing.

-Goddin used his personal experience as a security guard to craft this atmospheric tale. Anyone can imagine the uneasiness which could creep upon you if you were left at night to guard an abandoned property. Goddin takes this idea to horrific heights with some disturbing imagery and great moments of tension. Goddin is a short story writer who was prolific from the late seventies through the early nineties, publishing horror and science fiction tales in most of the notable small press magazines, such as Weirdbook, Eldritch Tales, Fantasy Tales, Deathrealm, and the like. His stories have been included in Karl Edward Wagner’s The Year’s Best Horror Stories, including “The Smell of Cherries,” which appeared in volume XI of the series (1983). The story was also reprinted in the anthology A Treasury of American Horror Stories (1985) and collected as the title story of a 2012 volume of Goddin’s stories from Gallows Press. Paperback collectors may know Goddin through his two horror novels published by Leisure Books, both of which remain collectible for their cover art: The Living Dead (1987) and Blood of the Wolf (1987).

--Show-By-Show Guide: TV’s Twilight Zone: Part Twenty by Marc Scott Zicree
-Marc Scott Zicree continues his guide to the original television series by providing cast and crew listings, summaries, and Rod Serling’s opening and closing narrations for the fifth season episodes “Ninety Years Without Slumbering,” “Ring-a-Ding Girl,” and “You Drive.”


--TZ Classic Teleplay: “A Quality of Mercy” by Rod Serling
-The complete shooting script of Rod Serling’s third season tale about a young, inexperienced, cruel, and overzealous platoon leader who discovers what it means to see through the eyes of the enemy. The episode was directed by Buzz Kulik, starring Dean Stockwell and Albert Salmi, originally broadcast December 29, 1961. Go here for our full review of the episode.

--Looking Ahead: In December’s TZ
-Next month looks like another great issue. December’s TZ features stories from David J. Schow, Pamela Sargent, Mort Castle, and L.P. Hartley, the latter being the subject of an Essential Writers essay by Jack Sullivan. The issue also features an interview with director Ridley Scott, a preview of the science fiction/horror film Xtro, a new quiz from William Fulwiler, and the script for “Living Doll” by Jerry Sohl, which at this time was still solely credited to Charles Beaumont. See you next month!

-JP

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Wednesday Comics (March 18, 2020)

Since it appears as though we will be practicing social distancing for the foreseeable future, I thought readers of the Vortex, who are likely to be spending the majority of their time at home, may enjoy reading a vintage story every other Wednesday from The Twilight Zone comic published by Gold Key. Wednesday is the traditionally scheduled day in which new comics appear on the shelves of your local comic shop. These comic stories are shared for archival and research purposes. Credits are taken from The Grand Comics Database (comics.org). If interested in a history of The Twilight Zone comics, see our post here.

-JP

This first story seems appropriate for our current social crisis. 

The Twilight Zone #20 (March, 1967)
"The Plague"
Script: Leo Dorfman
Pencils & Inks: Joe Orlando 
Letters: Ben Oda
Cover artist unknown 







Monday, March 9, 2020

"The Incredible World of Horace Ford"


Pat Hingle as Horace Ford

“The Incredible World of Horace Ford”
Season Four, Episode 117
Original Air Date: April 18, 1963

Cast:
Horace Maxwell Ford: Pat Hingle
Laura Ford: Nan Martin
Mrs. Ford: Ruth White
Leonard O’Brien: Phillip Pine
Mr. Judson: Vaughn Taylor
Betty O’Brien: Mary Carver
Hermy Brandt: Jerry Davis
Horace as Child: Jim E. Titus

Crew:
Writer: Reginald Rose
Director: Abner Biberman
Producer: Herbert Hirschman
Director of Photography: George T. Clemens
Production Manager: Ralph W. Nelson
Associate Producer: Murray Golden
Assistant to the Producer: John Conwell
Art Direction: George W. Davis & Edward Carfagno
Film Editor: Eda Warren
Set Decoration: Henry Grace & Edward M. Parker
Assistant Director: John Bloss
Sound: Franklin Milton & Joe Edmondson
Music: stock
Mr. Serling’s Wardrobe: Eagle Clothes
Filmed at MGM Studios

And Now, Mr. Serling:
“On our next excursion into The Twilight Zone we borrow an imposing array of talent and call on the services of a distinguished author named Reginald Rose, and some exceptionally fine acting talent in the persons of Mr. Pat Hingle, Miss Nan Martin, and Miss Ruth White. They appear in a story called ‘The Incredible World of Horace Ford,’ and it’s an incredible world indeed.”

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration:
“Mr. Horace Ford, who has a preoccupation with another time, a time of childhood, a time of growing up, a time of street games, stickball, and hide-and-go-seek. He has a reluctance to check out a mirror and see the nature of his image, proof-positive that the time he dwells in has already passed him by. But in a moment or two he’ll discover that mechanical toys and memories and daydreaming and wishful thinking and all manner of odd and special events can lead one into a special province, uncharted and unmapped, a country of both shadow and substance known as The Twilight Zone.”

Summary:
            Horace Ford is a middle-aged toy designer who clings to the happy memories of his childhood to such a degree that he behaves and speaks like a boy of ten. Horace’s childish behavior is a burden on his co-workers as well as his wife, Laura, and mother at home. On impulse one evening Horace decides to return to Randolph Street, where he grew up, for the first time in many years in order to rekindle happy memories.
            Horace discovers something amazing and terrifying on Randolph Street. It is just as it was when he was ten years old! He even sees some of his childhood friends, Hermy Brandt, Harvey Bender, George Langbert, and Cy Wright, as they were twenty-eight years ago. Horace drops his pocket watch when he accidentally runs into a man. He returns to his apartment shaken up by his experience. He tells Laura what he saw but she tries to explain to him that it couldn’t be the way he thought he saw it. Horace retreats to the bedroom to lie down. The doorbell rings. Laura answers the door. Ten-year-old Hermy Brant is at the door to return Horace’s pocket watch.
            Horace returns to Randolph Street on a following night where events are the same as when he visited before, even down to dropping his pocket watch again. Horace follows his childhood friends into an alley where he overhears the boys angrily talking about not being invited to a birthday party. Later, after Horace has returned to the apartment, Laura answers the doorbell to again receive Horace’s dropped pocket watch from Hermy Brandt.
Horace becomes obsessed with discovering his place in this memory frozen in time. His work starts to suffer to the point that his boss, Mr. Judson, suggests Horace take a leave of absence. When Horace refuses, Mr. Judson is forced to terminate Horace’s employment with the company.
            Laura is preparing for Horace’s surprise birthday party when he returns home late to deliver the news that he has been fired. Horace’s mother panics because she is worried there will be no money to secure their living conditions. Laura tries to be sympathetic but when Horace again starts talking about Randolph Street she loses her patience. Horace storms out of the apartment.
            He returns to Randolph Street. It is as it was before. Horace drops his pocket watch. He follows the boys into an alley to hear them speak of not being invited to a birthday party. Understanding his role in the memory now, Horace tries to speak to the boys, to explain to them why he didn’t invite them to his birthday party. Horace is a ten-year-old boy again. He pleads with his friends to understand. Instead, they mock him and beat him up.

            The partygoers have gathered back at Horace’s and Laura’s apartment. The doorbell rings. Everybody takes their positions in expectation that it is Horace at the door. Instead, it is Hermy Brandt again, there to return Horace’s watch. This time it is a Mickey Mouse watch like a child would wear.
            Laura goes to Randolph Street in search of Horace. She finds ten-year-old Horace in the alley, beaten and lying face down on the pavement. Laura turns away from the sight. When she turns back Horace is a grown man again. She helps him to his feet. He tells Laura of his experience and she explains that we remember the good times and black out the bad experiences in our lives, or else we could hardly go on living.
            Horace allows Laura to lead him away from Randolph Street. Neither of them notice Hermy Brandt sitting atop a streetlamp, looking down on them.

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:
“Exit Mr. and Mrs. Horace Ford, who have lived through a bizarre moment not to be calibrated on normal clocks and watches. Time has passed, to be sure, but it’s the special time in the special place known as The Twilight Zone.”

Commentary:
           
Jim E. Titus as the young Horace Ford
“Seated at the desk, daydreaming, is Horace. He is approaching thirty-five and growing paunchy. Horace is a bulky man with an elusive, almost boyish quality. His clothes never seem to fit. His shirt blouses out of his trousers. His socks are always down around his ankles. And his thinning hair cannot stay combed at all. He is a mild man, an apologetic man, except when he is discussing his beloved childhood memories. Then he seems to find a strange vitality, which somehow doesn’t fit him. Horace is the kind of man who would naturally become the butt of endless jokes, would the jokers not feel instinctively sorry for him without quite knowing why. Were they wise enough, they would understand that the tragic quality of Horace Ford is based in the fact that he is not an inadequate man but really an inadequate grown-up boy.”
            -“The Incredible World of Horace Ford” by Reginald Rose (1955)

“The Incredible World of Horace Ford” was first performed on June 13, 1955 for the CBS television anthology series Studio One in Hollywood. It was directed by Franklin Schaffner, who directed over one hundred episodes of the anthology series including Reginald Rose’s “Twelve Angry Men.” Schaffner is likely best remembered for the feature films he directed later in his career, including Planet of the Apes (1968), Patton (1970), Papillon (1973), and The Boys from Brazil (1978). Schaffner also directed episodes of Playhouse 90, including a quartet of Rod Serling offerings, “Panic Button,” “Nightmare at Ground Zero,” “The Velvet Alley,” and “The Rank and File,” as well as Reginald Rose’s “The Cruel Day.” Schaffner later worked on Reginald Rose’s The Defenders.
            “The Incredible World of Horace Ford” was also performed on the Toronto-based anthology series General Motors Presents (aka Encounter) for March 27, 1960 with Alan Young as Horace Ford and Jill Foster as Laura.

When “The Incredible World of Horace Ford” appeared on Studio One, the play’s author, Reginald Rose, was four years into a television writing career whose output positioned him as one of the key foundational architects of the television drama, alongside Rod Serling, Gore Vidal, and Paddy Chayefsky. A few years later, Rose’s short story, the ironic and macabre “Parlor Game,” was prefaced (by the unsigned Publisher) with this statement in the premier issue of the short-lived Shock magazine (1960):

            Just seven years ago, the infant industry of TV began to find its own artists – men who knew how to create memorable works of fiction in the form of a TV scenario. There was Paddy Chayefsky, who wrote “Marty” and “The Bachelor Party” and went on to screen and stage triumphs. There was – and is – Rod Serling who, despite several successful movies to his credit, has remained loyal to TV and is currently producing and writing the eerie “Twilight Zone” series. And then there is the most controversial of all the TV titans – Reginald Rose. From the moment his stirring “Remarkable Incident at Carsons [sic] Corners” exploded onto millions of home screens, Reginald Rose was acclaimed as TV’s freshest, most challenging writing talent. But he is better known for having authored the best motion picture written in America in the past five years. We refer, of course, to “Twelve Angry Men,” the unforgettable motion picture about a jury, starring Henry Fonda and Lee J. Cobb. Many other fine movies and rousing TV dramas have come from Reginald Rose’s facile pen.

Reginald Rose
Rose was born on December 10, 1920 in Manhattan and lived for much of his life in New York. He attended New York City College from 1937-1938 but left without taking a degree. The city was an enormous influence on Rose’s writing, an aspect captured beautifully in the production design for “The Incredible World of Horace Ford” and evidenced by the inclusion of such New York-centric elements as the child’s game Ringolevio. After a stint in the Air Force Quartermaster Corps (Rose enlisted after Pearl Harbor and rose to First Lieutenant) Rose, who had been actively writing since high school, and working a variety of jobs from copywriter for an ad agency to a publicist for Warner Brothers, sold his first television play, “The Bus to Nowhere,” in 1951 to the short-lived science fiction anthology series Out There. Although adept at fantasy, adapting John Cheever’s “The Enormous Radio” for The Revlon Mirror Theater in 1953, and suspense, with a handful of episodes for the anthology series Danger, Rose established himself with a confrontational style of realistic drama which, much like the plays of Rod Serling, frequently examined the social ills of the day. Rose’s style of drama quickly found a home at Studio One. Rose produced seventeen teleplays for the series from 1952-1957, beginning with “The Kill” and including his most notable work as a dramatist, the Emmy Award-winning “Twelve Angry Men,” and a two-part drama, “The Defender,” which Rose later reworked as the Emmy-winning courtroom drama series The Defenders (1961-1965). “Twelve Angry Men,” which has become a standard text for American school textbooks and regional stage productions, was based on Rose’s real-life experience as a first-time juror. It was adapted for film in 1957, as 12 Angry Men, from Rose’s script, directed by Sidney Lumet, starring Henry Fonda (who also served as Producer), E.G. Marshall (later star of Rose’s The Defenders), Lee J. Cobb, and Twilight Zone performers Jack Klugman, Martin Balsam, and Jack Warden. The film netted Rose two Academy Award nominations and won the author an Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America. 12 Angry Men was adapted for the stage in 1964 with revised versions appearing in 1996 and 2004. Showtime network filmed the play in 1997. It remains Rose’s best-known work and a classic of American drama. Reginald Rose died on April 19, 2002 in Norwalk, Connecticut.

Art Carney as Horace Ford
            For the Studio One version of “The Incredible World of Horace Ford,” Art Carney (star of Twilight Zone’s “The Night of the Meek”) appeared as Horace Maxwell Ford in a performance Rose later characterized as “fine as any I’ve seen on television; the shadings and insights he brought to the childlike, tormented character he played were nothing short of incredible.” Appearing as Laura Ford was Leora Dana with Jason Robards in the role of Horace’s friend and coworker Leonard O’Brien. The play generated an enormous response from viewers, with the CBS offices flooded with written responses ranging from consternation to anger to extreme praise. As Rose later stated: “No one, it seems, was neutral about this play.” The variety of experience caused by the play was due not only to the fantasy element (a novel quality in the early days of television, especially on a mainstream anthology program) but also the unorthodox and ambiguous ending of Rose’s play. As originally written, the play ends when Hermy Brandt returns Horace’s Micky Mouse watch to Laura, indicating that Horace became trapped in the past, never to return.

The doorbell rings. Everyone turns. Laura stands, Betty tiptoes over to the light switch and turns out the light. She puts her fingers to her lips. Everyone tiptoes over to one corner of the room, everyone but Laura and Mrs. Ford. They wait expectantly, hushed. The bell rings again. Betty waves Laura to the door. But Mrs. Ford walks to the door instead and opens it. Hermy Brandt stands there, an odd smile on his face. He holds up a nickel-plated pocket watch to Mrs. Ford.
HERMY: He dropped this.
Mrs. Ford takes the watch and Laura, rushing to her, takes it from her with trembling fingers. Hermy pads silently away. Laura looks at the watch and then she raises a hand to her face and begins to sob. Cut to close-up of watch. It is a Mickey Mouse watch.
Fade out.

            Viewers either did not understand this ending or simply refused to accept it, instead requiring a clear and satisfactory resolution to the events. Rose, working from the assumption that many viewers thought the fantasy element was only in Horace’s mind, attempted to set the record straight when he included “The Incredible World of Horace Ford” in Six Television Plays (1956):

“The entire story was a fantasy about real people and I felt that this was clearly proven when Hermy Brandt, Horace’s little childhood friend, broke out of what many thought to be Horace’s private fantasy, appeared at Horace’s home, and was seen and spoken to by Horace’s wife and mother.
            “What I meant to do with The Incredible World of Horace Ford was to tell a simple horror story about an everyday man with a somewhat exaggerated but everyday kind of problem and, in so doing, point out that the funny, tender childhood memories we cling to are often distorted and unreal.”

            The Twilight Zone later made this type of story its stock-in-trade in such episodes as “Walking Distance,” “A Stop at Willoughby,” “The Trouble with Templeton,” “Young Man’s Fancy,” and related episodes. In fact, in August, 1959, two months before the premier of The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling received a suggestion to produced Rose’s play for The Twilight Zone but passed on the opportunity because of the obvious similarities between “Horace Ford” and Serling’s “Walking Distance.” “The Incredible World of Horace Ford” perhaps does not receive enough credit as a pioneering work of television fantasy as it prefigured many of the themes and stylistic tropes of series such as One Step Beyond, The Twilight Zone, and ‘Way Out. As such, there really was no time in which to produce “The Incredible World of Horace Ford” on The Twilight Zone and have the play not resemble a recently aired episode. The episode which immediately preceded “Horace Ford,” although different in tone, was a time travel fantasy, “Of Late I Think of Cliffordville,” in which a man longs to return to his youth only to find it not nearly as rosy as he remembered.

Reginald Rose and Rod Serling (from TV Guide)
The element of time travel (and similar fantasy concepts) seems to have confounded audiences and networks in the pre-Twilight Zone days, with CBS bearing the brunt of fantasy’s growing pains in the medium of television. CBS was to recall the flood of angry and confused letters its offices received after the airing of “The Incredible World of Horace Ford” on Studio One when it came time to restage the play for Twilight Zone. Producer Herbert Hirschman remembered Rose’s play from its appearance on Studio One and approached Rose about staging the play on The Twilight Zone. Rose held little affinity for fantasy but had enormous respect for Rod Serling and agreed to terms to bring “Horace Ford” to The Twilight Zone. Rose may also have felt a need to further reconcile with Rod Serling after a brief row between the writers the previous year over the article “Can a TV Writer Keep His Integrity?” by Edith Efron (TV Guide, April 21, 1962). In it, Rose and Serling were pitted against one another in a debate concerning writer integrity in television, with Rose holding out for the standards of disappearing dramatic anthology series such as Playhouse 90 and Studio One while Serling expressed the desire to compromise in order to adjust to changing tastes and demands of the audience. The article’s writer framed Serling’s position as one of abandoning the integrity of “serious” drama in order to produce science fiction and fantasy material which was beneath him and not worthy of his talents. Although Rose’s written response to the article was laudatory, Serling’s was blunt in its displeasure, prompting Rose to write Serling in order to ensure the two writers maintained their amiable personal and professional relationship.
Herbert Hirschman assigned “Horace Ford” to Abner Biberman (1909-1977), an actor since the thirties who began directing film and television in the fifties. Biberman was a stylish director whose talents behind the camera are better evidenced by his work on “The Dummy” and, later, on the fifth season episodes “Number 12 Looks Just Like You” and “I Am the Night – Color Me Black.” Biberman chiefly directed western and crime series but was versatile enough to handle straight drama, comedy, and science fiction. He directed the first season The Outer Limits episode “The Human Factor.”
As far as Rose’s original ending went, it would not be allowed to air that way again and perhaps cause another wave of outraged viewers. The play was filmed for The Twilight Zone as Rose had originally written it but both the network and producer Herbert Hirschman, viewing the episode prior to broadcast, strongly suggested a revised ending. Rose obliged and wrote the additional material which sees Laura recovering Horace from his nightmare in the past. Rose, likely not happy changing the ending but also not wanting to field any more queries about the meaning of the play, has Laura clearly state the theme of the play in dialogue.
The reader will remember the problems which Rod Serling’s time-travel fantasy “The Time Element” experienced at the network, where it was first shelved before fighting off resistance from the network and sponsor prior to its appearance on The Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse. By the time of the episode’s airing in 1958, however, audiences were much more in-tune with the type of grounded fantasy represented by “Horace Ford” and “The Time Element.” The audience response to Serling’s play was so overwhelmingly positive that it forced CBS to take another look at Serling’s proposal for a continuing series of fantasy plays, paving the way for the creation of The Twilight Zone.
           
            Pat Hingle’s performance as Horace Ford is likely the most divisive element in the play. Questions naturally arise about the character: How was Horace able to court and marry a woman like Laura? How was Horace able to secure a job, even for a toy manufacturer which would naturally require some semblance of professionalism in the hiring process? The best way of viewing the character, and appreciating Hingle’s excellent performance, is to accept that by the time the viewer is brought into Horace’s world, his behavior has progressed to an extreme degree. Where Horace may have always been a bit on the dreamy and immature side, he has now given himself over completely to his nostalgic fantasy. The episode is best viewed as a devastating portrait of a nervous breakdown, albeit aided by genuine fantasy, which nicely aligns the play with thematically related episodes such as “Walking Distance,” “A Stop at Willoughby,” and “The Trouble with Templeton.” There is a palpable tension to all the performances in the play and many scenes, particularly Mrs. Ford’s breakdown at the news of Horace’s firing, play out with the pleasantly unnerving quality of the older, more melodramatic television drama, belying the play’s provenance in a program from nearly a decade earlier.
            Hingle was born Martin Patterson Hingle on July 19, 1924 in Miami, Florida. Raised by a single mother, they moved around and eventually landed in Texas where Hingle became involved with the Drama Department at the University of Texas in Austin. A move to New York followed university where Hingle found steady work on stage and in the emerging medium of television. Hingle began his television career on Suspense, including an appearance in the Rod Serling-scripted episode “Nightmare at Ground Zero” (1953). Hingle later appeared in Serling’s television film Carol for Another Christmas (1964) and in an episode of Serling’s introspective western The Loner, “The Mourners for Johnny Sharp, Part 1” (1966). Appearances on a variety of anthology series included a role in Henry Slesar’s Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode “Night of the Execution” (1957), and the lead in a Play of the Week production of Reginald Rose’s “Black Monday” in 1961. Hingle reconnected with Rose with two appearances on The Defenders.
Hingle held connections with nearly all of his co-performers in “Horace Ford.” He performed alongside Vaughn Taylor in live television dramas, knew Phillip Pine personally, and previously performed with Ruth White and Nan Martin, the latter appearing alongside Hingle on Broadway in Archibald MacLeish’s J.B. and again playing Hingle’s wife on The Fugitive in “Search in a Windy City” (1964).
            Hingle is likely best-known for his four stints as Commissioner Gordon in the Batman films (1989-1997) and for appearances in Clint Eastwood films such as Hang ‘Em High, The Gauntlet, and Sudden Impact. Hingle also had a memorable appearance in Stephen King’s Maximum Overdrive (1986). He died on January 3, 2009 in Carolina Beach, North Carolina.
           
Nan Martin was born on July 15, 1927 in Decatur, Illinois. She began a career in television in 1952 in an episode of Schlitz Playhouse. Martin reconnected with Reginald Rose for an episode of The Defenders, “Climate of Evil,” and appeared in two episodes of The Twilight Zone revival series, the first season episode “If She Dies” and the second season adaptation of Theodore Sturgeon’s “A Saucer of Loneliness.” Horror film fans likely remember Martin as the nun who relates Freddy Krueger’s disturbing origin in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987). Martin died in Malibu on March 4, 2010.

Ruth White (1914-1969) memorably portrays Horace Ford’s frightened mother who is more concerned with the disturbance in her own living conditions than in the greater consequences of her son’s apparent mental breakdown. White is perhaps best known for playing Mrs. Dubose in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). A versatile character actress in both film and television, White did not begin appearing on screen until her mid-30s due to having to care for an ailing parent. She began on television in mystery/suspense series such as The Clock, Lights Out, Hands of Mystery, Danger, and Suspense. White appeared in dramatic anthology series as well, including an appearance on Studio One in Reginald Rose’s “The Remarkable Incident at Carson Corners.” White appeared alongside Twilight Zone performer Milton Selzer in the episode “20/20” of the short-lived, Roald Dahl-hosted anthology series ‘Way Out. White appeared in two episodes of Rose’s The Defenders and reconnected with Pat Hingle alongside Clint Eastwood for Hang ‘Em High (1968), directed by TZ’s Ted Post. White won an Emmy for Supporting Actress for the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of “Little Moon of Alban” (1964).

            Phillip Pine (1920-2006) found a niche on television playing villains and mobsters, much like his previous role on The Twilight Zone in the first season episode “The Four of Us Are Dying.” Pine began acting in films in the late forties but it was on the small screen where he made his name, appearing in a variety of series which included much genre work. Pine appeared on Tales of Tomorrow, Science Fiction Theatre, Alfred Hitchcock Presents (“The Safe Place”), One Step Beyond (“Where Are They?”), The Outer Limits (“The Hundred Days of the Dragon”), Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Invaders, Star Trek (“The Savage Curtain”), and an episode of the Richard Matheson-developed series Circle of Fear (“The Ghost of Potter’s Field”).

            Vaughn Taylor (1911-1983) is certainly a familiar face to The Twilight Zone viewers as Taylor logged five appearances on the series, previously appearing in a very similar role as boss to a troubled employee in the first season episode “Time Enough at Last” (Taylor also made a memorable appearance as Janet Leigh’s boss in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960)). Taylor was nearly unrecognizable as the southern sorcerer Teague in “Still Valley.” He portrayed the eccentric salesman in Ray Bradbury’s “I Sing the Body Electric” and turned in a moody and ominous final performance on the series in the fifth season episode “The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross.” Taylor was a hugely prolific television performer and a staple of anthology series. Early genre work included appearances on The Clock, Tales of Tomorrow, Lights Out, and Inner Sanctum. He later appeared in two episodes of Boris Karloff’s Thriller, “Choose a Victim” and “Cousin Tundifer,” as well as The Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode “The Long Silence,” co-scripted by Charles Beaumont from Hilda Lawrence’s story “Composition for Four Hands,” and two episodes of The Outer Limits, “The Guests” and “Expanding Human.”

            Viewers are likely divided on the effectiveness of “The Incredible World of Horace Ford” due to the character of Horace, the exaggerated aspect of Pat Hingle’s performance, and perhaps the overly familiar nature of the play’s theme and fantasy element. For this viewer, the play remains a fascinating character study and an emotionally resonant exploration of certain truths of the human experience, anchored by fine performances, a strong, psychologically probing script, and an expert balance of the whimsical and the grim. Although the theme of the episode, that youth is often harsher than we remember it to be, many not resonate will all viewers, anyone can relate to the power which memory exerts over us, and the way that experience shapes oneself, not only in how it was actually lived but also how we remember it to have been. The episode rewards repeat viewings and the sensitive viewer comes away enriched by the play’s timeless themes. “The Incredible World of Horace Ford” is a wonderful time capsule back to the halcyon days of early television drama when the medium was raised to an art form by writers like Reginald Rose and Rod Serling.         

Grade: B

Grateful acknowledgment to:
-Six Television Plays by Reginald Rose (Simon and Schuster, 1956)
-The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic by Martin Grams, Jr. (OTR, 2008)
-Forgotten Gems from The Twilight Zone, Volume 2, ed. Andrew Ramage (BearManor Media, 2015)
-The Rod Serling Memorial Foundation (rodserling.com)

Notes:
Jerry Davis as Hermy Brandt
-Abner Biberman also directed the third season episode “The Dummy” and the fifth season episodes “Number 12 Looks Just Like You” and “I Am the Night – Color Me Black.”
-Nan Martin appeared in two segments from the first revival Twilight Zone series: “If She Dies” and “A Saucer of Loneliness.”
-Phillip Pine also appeared in the first season episode “The Four of Us Are Dying.”
-Vaughn Taylor appeared in four additional episodes of the series: “Time Enough at Last,” “Still Valley,” “I Sing the Body Electric,” and “The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross.”
-“The Incredible World of Horace Ford” was adapted as a Twilight Zone Radio Drama starring Mike Starr.

-JP