Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


"Stopover in a Quiet Town"
"The Fear" with Mark Richman
Agnes Moorehead in "The Invaders"
"The Little People"
The classic "To Serve Man"
THE TWILIGHT ZONE: Size is Relative.

During its several years on the air, The Twilight Zone broadcast several stories that had to do with the size of human beings or other things. Some were memorable, and others were not.

The Invaders. Season 2, episode 15. Written by Richard Matheson and directed by Douglas Heyes. Agnes Moorehead plays a farm woman who comes across a tiny spaceship filled with equally small astronauts. At the end we learn that this ship is actually a "U.S. Air Force Space Probe" that the old lady has smashed. This is mostly a silly burlesque. C+

The Fear. Season 5, episode 35. Written by Rod Serling and directed by Ted Post. Police officer Mark Richman and resident Hazel Court encounter what appears to be a humongous space man in an isolated area. This has some suspense, even if it could be dismissed as silly "comic book" stuff. B-/C+.

The Little People. Season 3, episode 28. Written by Rod Serling and directed by William Claxton. Two astronauts come across microscopic people on a planet and one of them plays God, until he realizes to his horror that he's not the only one who's out of proportion. This is a bit hokey, like an old comic, but it boasts fine performances by Claude Akins and particularly Joe Maross. B-.

Stopover in a Quiet Town. Season 5, episode 30. Written by Earl Hamner Jr. and directed by Ron Winston. A couple who partied a bit too much wake up in a strange house and find themselves in a deserted town, then board a train that goes absolutely nowhere. A little girl's giggling voice can be heard everywhere. Although the episode is treated a bit lightly at the end (often the case with Serling's black comedy narration), it's actually quite horrifying, with this couple, whatever their flaws (including drunk driving), suffering a supremely and grotesquely horrifying fate. Possibly the influence for the show Land of the Giants. Barry Nelson and Nancy Malone give excellent performances. A.

To Serve Man. Season 3, episode 24. Written by Rod Serling (from a story by Damon Knight) and directed by Richard L. Bare. This episode qualifies if for no other reason than the alien who visits earth is 9 feet tall and weighs 350 lbs. This alien claims that he wants to help mankind and even gives scientists a book entitled "To Serve Man." Unfortunately one scientist has the book translated too late to save all of the people who are traveling to the giant's planet for supposed edification. Another supremely horrifying episode whose tension is almost dissipated by Serling's jokey narration. Lloyd Bochner, Susan Cummings, and Richard Kiel give good performances. I've always thought a great movie sequel could be made showing the earth people in the ship, slowly realizing what's about to happen to them, and fighting back. Probably one of the most fondly-remembered episodes of the series. A-.

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