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3 Terrifying TWILIGHT ZONE Episodes, TRAIN TO BUSAN Remake, and More!
The Bite #27

3 Terrifying TWILIGHT ZONE Episodes, TRAIN TO BUSAN Remake, and More!

October 09, 2018

In this Issue:


HORROR HISTORY: TWILIGHT TERROR

By Adam-Troy Castro

Today’s 59th anniversary of the premiere of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone will inevitably prompt fond remembrances of everybody’s favorite episodes, but what concerns us here are the scariest, the ones determined to go past the realm of spooky into the realm of the terrifying. There aren’t all that many. The show could be macabre, and there are any number of episodes that edged into what is called “quiet horror,” but it only rarely aimed at the visceral.

Richard Matheson’s “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” from his short story, stars William Shatner as a recently institutionalized airline passenger who can’t get anybody to believe that he has seen an odd creature sabotaging the engines. It is a pulse-pounding ordeal, not so much because of the creature itself, which hasn’t aged well, as because Shatner so perfectly inhabits the role of a man burdened with insane and vital knowledge that cannot be successfully passed to anyone else.

“It’s a GOOD Life,” adapted by Serling from an even scarier classic story by Jerome Bixby, is the tale of a town living under a thumb of a young boy with godlike powers. The child must be humored and indulged, and even then, nobody is safe. Billy Mumy is terrifying as the brat, but one must give special attention to Cloris Leachman as his mother, a woman whose life has become a loaded gun pointed at her head.

After that, the consistently terrifying episodes are thin on the ground, but Serling’s “The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street,” a commentary on McCarthyism in which a neighborhood blackout rapidly sets a group of suburbanites against one another, is a small tour-de-force of bitter recriminations edging toward violence. (See also: “The Shelter,” which rings many of the same notes.)

Kudos also to the revival series of the 1980s, The New Twilight Zone, in particular “Nightcrawlers,”  filmed by William Friedkin from a story by Robert McCammon, one of the most frightening half hours in all of TV history. It’s about nightmares from the post-traumatic stress of a Vietnam veteran invading a diner to catastrophic effect.

And luckily, with a new Jordan Peele incarnation ofThe Twilight Zone just around the corner, we can hope for many more scares to come.


IMAGE OF THE WEEK

Image of the Week

Serial-Killer Killer

Jamie Lee Curtis gets ready to carve up Michael Myers on the cover to the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly.


TINY BITES

HANNIBAL LECTER WINS, GEORGE ROMERO MATTERS & MORE

Hannibal Lecter beat out Darth Vader as the best movie villain of all time. He’s going to celebrate with some fava beans and a nice chianti.

Stephen King, Quentin Tarantino and other horror icons talk about what scares them in the first trailer for Eli Roth’s History of Horror.

In this charming vintage clip, Vincent Pricesurprises his friend Christopher Lee on This is Your Life.

Podcasting publisher Gimlet is launching a scriptedhorror series podcast called The Horror of Dolores Roach, which involves NYC subway tunnels and strangulation.

New Line Cinema won a bidding war to remake the South Korean zombie masterpiece Train to Busan. (Deep breath.)

Here’s an excellent — if all too brief — rundown of “Black Women in Zombie Film & Television History.”

Jennifer Beals has been cast as a “tough as nails” sheriff in the upcoming Swamp Thing series. (We’ll always love her best as Rachel from Vampire’s Kiss.)

GQclaimsThe Haunting of Hill House is the first great horror TV show ever. (Not even going to touch that one.)

50 years later, George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead is more relevant than ever.

Cassandra Peterson shares how she became the horror host Elvira. Elvis was involved.

The Chiodo Brothers say the Killer Klowns from Outer Spacewill be back as “a trilogy in four parts.” (It’ll make sense once you read what they mean.)

If you’re lucky enough to live in Katy, Texas, you can have donuts delivered by a scary clown.


States of Horror

THE STATES OF HORROR: ALASKA + ALABAMA

By Sam Zimmerman

With the alphabet behind us, let’s look to new avenues of appreciation and recommendation, like geography. The landscape, population, and of course, misdeeds, of a particular location can make it ripe for tales of terror. What perils lie in its terrain? What evil lives in its inhabitants? What folklore, what crimes haunt its soil? And so The Bite presents the States of Horror, an ongoing look at the horror films that take place in each of the United States, with nods to classics, gems, fictional portraits, as well as the rich legacy of local and regional genre filmmaking. Hop in …

Alaska: 30 Days of Night

Featuring a brilliant premise predicated on the specific phenomenon of polar night — that vampires would relocate to and feed on a town which experiences a month-long darkness — 30 Days of Night could only have been set in the northernmost or southernmost regions of the Earth, including Barrow, Alaska.

Alabama: Dead Birds

Rife with the unspeakable, it’s surprising we don’t see as much horror based in or around the Civil War-era. This underrated 2004 creeper, shot in Mobile, makes use of the horrid violence and deep-seated evil of the period by setting a group of Confederate deserters up on the grounds of an abandoned and very haunted plantation (thanks to its owners dark acts).


Thomas Ligotti

A VERY SHUDDER BOOK CLUB – WHAT WE’RE READING

By Scott Edelman

Perhaps you started reading Thomas Ligotti when his first short stories appeared in the ‘80s, causing him to be declared a worthy successor to H. P Lovecraft. Or maybe you didn’t discover him until Rust Cohle’s Ligotti-inspired speeches during the Season 1 of True Detective sent you searching for the reclusive author’s collections. (His first, Songs of a Dead Dreamer, is one of the most important the horror genre has produced.) But even if this is the first time you’ve heard his name, you’ll want to track down The Conspiracy Against the Human Race, his debut non-fiction connection, previously available only in a limited small-press edition, which shines a light on the philosophical underpinnings of his dark fiction. And as eerie as Ligotti’s stories can be, the truth hidden behind them can be even more so.