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

--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

-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
Illustrated by Kevin Kelly
“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!



  1. (1) What a fine year to be a film reviewer!

    (2) Oh, Disch in acerbic mode is always fun. Of these, I've read BATTLEFIELD EARTH so I can appreciate his harsh words on that one. Haven't read CELLARS. Is that Gardner as in John gardner the guy who wrote the Bonds? (Oh, nope - just googled.)

    (3) Stephen King has been quite generous with helping out authors and artists he digs; it's an appealing trait of his to be sure. That's great that such a lumnary as Sam can trace at least part of his success to an appreciative note from someone he didn't even ask for one. Kismet, perhaps. Explains, too, the amount of cameos Raimi has made in King projects, I guess.

    (4) Carpenter's FIRESTARTER is one of the ah-what-might-have-beens of the 80s.

    (5) Will keep Joseph Payne Brennan on the radar, for sure. The cover to SHAPES OF MIDNIGHT sure looks like fun.

    (6) "The film was initially poorly received but its reputation has improved in recent years as it has found a new and appreciative audience among viewers." That's the truth. I remember how hated it was at the time and the kids on the playground (I wasn't allowed to see any of the sequels - though I did anyway - although my parents loved HALLOWEEN so much they allowed me to watch that one) who were big FRIDAY THE 13TH fans gloating as if their team finally beat their hated rivals. Like everyone else I came back around to this one later and loved it. Still do.

    (7) All these stories sound like fun. What a shame this magazine never caught fire. It's exactly the sort of thing I want to read/ arrive at my house every month.

    (8) What was MSZ's take on "Ring a Ding Girl"? Lots of folks don't like that one. I can understand, but there's a quality to it that's always appealed to me.

    Take good care out there - looking forward to next ish.

    1. I was thinking the same thing! When you have to squeeze reviews of E.T., The Thing, and Poltergeist into one column you know it's a good year for film. I feel like the King review of Evil Dead is one of the most famous horror movie reviews in film history and I didn't know it originated in pages of TZ. That was a nice surprise. Joseph Payne Brennan is definitely worth seeking out. I love the work of the late Weird Tales writers and Brennan's work captures that time and spirit perfectly. I enjoy Halloween III as well. The first Halloween is unbeatable but I agree with the playground kids in preferring the Friday sequels, though I don't imagine we will see those films reviewed in TZ. Zicree didn't provide any commentary for his guide in the magazine, saving that for the TZ Companion. I don't recall his impressions of "Ring-a-Ding Girl" but he likely wasn't a fan. Honestly, I haven't seen that episode in quite a while and probably won't view it again until it's time to review it here but I've seen positive reviews of it crop up here and there. I've been pleasantly surprised on rewatching many of these and maybe that'll be the case with that one. We'll see. Thanks for reading!

  2. This seems like a particularly good issue. I did not recall that about the Evil Dead. Interesting!

    1. This was a better than average issue. The stories from Taylor, Sarrantonio, and Shiner were particularly good, as was the reprint from Joseph Payne Brennan. Evil Dead has become such an iconic classic of the horror film that it's hard to imagine the trouble it had securing a wide release. Fortunately for us it overcame those initial problems.