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What makes The Twilight Zone a classic? Is it that it’s old, potentially creating feelings of nostalgia? Well, that doesn’t hurt, but what really makes a classic is simply that it makes an impact. It tends to be quite original, or at least a superior representation of its form. “One for the Angels” is exactly that. Granted, it’s only the second ever episode of The Twilight Zone, and it almost seems to be overlooked.

Still, the story is a perfect blend of drama, humor, sadness, suspense and philosophy, in addition to an examination of its main character, Lou Bookman. Ed Wynn does a great job as Bookman, who breathes goofy yet plausible life into the character. Frankly, he’s a bit similar to the Cowardly Lion, except as a street salesman (or “pitch man,” as Rod Serling calls him in the story).

Meeting Mr. Death

While he first seems like an average character, he happens to meet Mr. Death (Murray Hamilton), AKA “The Grim Reaper.” As most people would, Bookman ends up pleading for his life, but ultimately his bargaining skills, and ability for self-sacrifice, are put to the test. The viewer may wonder, “Hmm, would I be able to make the same choice, when it comes down to it?” Some of us would, but definitely not everyone.

Basically, this Twilight Zone episode is a reminder of what made Rod Serling’s stories typically great. He would often blend moral conflicts in with his creepy concepts — and this episode certainly has creepy connotations. Curiously, Serling never comes across as too preachy in the process. Like most fiction writers, he tends to let the stories and situations themselves carry the meanings, rather than beat you over the head with them. He encourages the viewer to have an internal debate, which is the sign of a great story.

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Is it Scary?

This is a common question when it comes to Twilight Zone episodes. “One for the Angels” is hardly the most shocking story imaginable. Nevertheless, if you ponder the scenario, you might be a little creeped out. More importantly, the moral issue of self-sacrifice to save another’s life is compelling, and so is the idea that Mr. Death is obligated to carry out his duties, yet is seemingly human-like and fallible. It is in many ways a fantastical tale, yet it is grounded by rules. This alone helps the story be more complex, and potentially more unsettling. There isn’t an impression that literally anything could happen (though bizarre, free-for-all reality stories could hypothetically be scary).

There’s another aspect to the creepiness that’s hard to explain: The humor sort of enhances the dark elements. Like other Twilight Zone episodes, this one knows how to blend darkness and light, while having a natural flow to things. At no point does the mood seem forced or ridiculous. We also care about the story because we care about Mr. Bookman. He may not have lived a very prestigious life, but he makes the right decisions where it counts, and that’s huge.

In Conclusion

This is a fantastic episode. In addition to everything I say above, it’s also a bit of a time capsule. You get to see an era when little kids could wander freely in a city, without anyone being paranoid about it or calling Child Protection Services. It’s also just a classy episode, not trying to be anything it isn’t. It’s proof that solid story is often more important than fancy effects or even overall scares. Another interesting aspect of “One for the Angels”: It doesn’t even have the classic Twilight Zone theme that everyone knows and loves.

What are your thoughts on The Twilight Zone? Let us know in the comments!

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. tygertrip

    October 9, 2019 at 1:35 am

    The iconic Twilight Zone theme music was not introduced until the second season, IIRC. I don’t think any of the first season episodes had it. Personally, I prefer the first season’s intro, with the creepy music and the mysterious cave, much more scary!

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Joe Bob Briggs Creepy Christmas spooktacular: The Last Drive-In Special Charity phenomena

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Famed horror host, Pulitzer Prize nominated, and Cracker Barrel aficionado Joe Bob Briggs is back in action, ready to bring some macabre merriment to your holiday season with Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas. It also gives us horror fans something to take into the new year, be that something Darcy’s panties (sorry, box, I tried) or just the intangible good feels of hanging with friends and supporting a lot of good causes.

The Return of Joe Bob Briggs’s Christmas Special

The Joe Bob Briggs’s Christmas event is akin to a Jerry Lewis telethon for Gen X, with a twist of ‘the last drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs’. This ‘Briggs’ auction of sorts is a nostalgic nod to the past, especially for those who remember the telethons. The dread, however, has shifted from the … well… whatever Jerry was supposed to do (see Sam Kinison’s bit on this for more info) to that of evil goodies.

Without a doubt, this Joe Bob Briggs special is the event we eagerly anticipate each year. It’s a tradition, and a worthy one at that. We hope to see everyone on the interwebs, joining the ‘creepy links’ and engaging in the conversation (We’ll be on Threads and Twitter….tag us as you wish!) ‘live’ the only way anyone should ever watch a tv show (oh, and I guess on demand, but ya weirdos will never know the sting of the Iron Mutant Award!). ‘Live’ is the only way anyone should ever watch a TV show, especially ‘the last drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs’ (as it’s far too hard to watch tv whilst dead).

Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas The ‘Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs and Darcy the Mail Girl’ special will hit the airwaves live on Shudder TV and AMC+ TV on Friday, December 15th at 9 p.m. ET. Fans of ‘the last drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs’ can also catch the special on-demand starting Sunday, December 17th.

A Creepy Christmas with a Cause

In its fourth year, the holiday tradition of The Last Drive-In goes beyond mere entertainment. It aims to use the platform to raise funds for four vital causes. The charity auction will feature unique props and exclusive merchandise from The Last Drive-In and memorabilia from Briggs’ illustrious 35-year career…including some of his unspoken work as John Bloom. I say Unspoken, because if anyone remembers the first Christmas Special, the autographed copy of Eccentric Orbits was featured (sincerely, a good book–check it out if you haven’t. Jim gives it 4.5/5)

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The supported charities for Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas will include:

The Mystery of the Joe Bob Briggs’s Creepy Christmas Special

The anticipation for Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas is high, with fans wildly speculating what films will be featured. Personally, nothing can beat the #1 top horror Christmas film of all time, the Easter classic: Passion of the Christ (if a snuff film about a guy who doesn’t fit in getting whipped and nailed up doesn’t scream horror story, I don’t know what does. Also: See Sam Kinison’s concept on crosses and resurrection). However, a Christmas movie I really want to see up on this is Hogzilla and Kiss Save Santa Clause! BOOMMM!! Christmas Won!

As we eagerly wait for December 15th, we wonder what surprises our favorite horror host, Joe Bob Briggs, has in store this time. Will there be exclusive ‘merch’ that Jim will buy and then accidentally put in a Toys for Tots box in the mall?

Join the Fun, Join the Cause, Join the Joe Bob Briggs Christmas event!

Are you ready to dive into the world of Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas? Do you dare to watch along and help raise money for a good cause? If so, join us at HauntedMTL on Threads (_HauntedMTL_) and maybe Twitter (@HauntedMTL) as we experience the thrill and chills that only Joe Bob Briggs and Darcy can deliver.

Remember, this is not just about indulging in some good old horror fun with ‘Joe Bob’s’ double feature. It’s about giving back and making a difference. So, let’s gear up to have a creepy Christmas with ‘Joe Bob Briggs’, filled with ‘christmas horror films’, ‘christmas demons’, ‘christmas slasher films’, ‘ho-ho-horror’, ‘yuletide horror’ and insightful ‘horror commentary’.Joe Bob’s Creepy Christmas and make this holiday season memorable for all the right reasons! I’m sure Fright Rags will have another stellar set this year, too. They are perfect for the horror fan in your life (even if that fan is you!). I can’t wait to see what they have in store (no pun).

SPECIAL — IF YOU WANT Freeeeeeeee (as supplies last) Fright Rags Joe Bob Briggs merch for this year, just tweet/thread at us during the event and Jim will pick the one that makes him chuckle the most (you will need to give us your address and size in DMs)

No subscription to watch Joe Bob Briggs’s Creepy Christmas yet? No problem! Check the link below:

AMC Networks’ Shudder is a premium streaming video service, super-serving members with the best selection in genre entertainment, covering horror, thrillers and the supernatural. Shudder’s expanding library of film, TV series, and originals is available on most streaming devices in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. For a 7-day, risk-free trial, visit Joe Bob at www.shudder.com.

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Movies n TV

X-Files, How The Ghosts Stole Christmas

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Airing in December of 1998, How the Ghosts Stole Christmas is a classic monster of the week episode of the X-Files. Except, of course, it’s ghosts, not monsters. Because it’s Christmas, and there’s no better time for a little ghost story than that.

The story

Our story begins like any good holiday evening should. Mulder is telling Scully a ghost story. They’re sitting together outside a supposedly haunted house on Christmas Eve, waiting for the ghosts of two lovers to appear. The story is that they killed each other eighty-one years ago, that very night. Mulder is very excited to see some ghosts. Scully would rather be at home celebrating the holiday.

One of these people has a family life and a dog. The other only has his partner.

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Eventually, the two of them do make it inside, where they find an elderly couple named Maurice and Lydia. They seem like a nice enough couple until things start getting weird. Doors lock and unlock as they please. Lydia and Maurice seem to appear and vanish. And, of course, some dead bodies are found.

Edward Asner and Lily Tomlin in X-Files.

As Scully and Mulder try to find each other in this sprawling maze of a house, the ghosts are after them. They tell them terrible, insightful things about themselves and each other. The scary thing is that some of this is good advice.

The scary thing is how much of this Mulder and Scully needed to hear.

Eventually, our heroes escape, though they sure don’t exorcise the ghosts in the house or themselves. Lydia and Maurice are left to enjoy their quiet Christmas Eve in the comfort of their love, no longer a raging fire of passion, but a warm bed of glowing embers.

What worked

First off, let me say that I’m a sucker for a bottle episode. Especially in a show like X-Files. (And it is a true bottle episode, being the cheapest episode of the season.) For the most part, our story takes place in one location, with just four actors. It is tense, it is tight, and it is intimate.

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Honestly, this episode has everything going for it. Of course, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson bring their A Game. And they’re joined by two of the funniest comedic actors of all time, Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin. These people could read you the phone book and have you in stitches.

But the writing is also exemplary. Mulder and Scully are forced to take a good look at how they treat each other, for better or worse. They have to consider their relationship, the way they live their lives, and the darker voices in their heads.

In the end, I think they come together beautifully.

Finally, I want to praise the location. The haunted house looks so much like Hill House, it can’t be an accident. It’s in turn freezing and warm, falling apart and beautifully maintained. The cobwebs and hanging sheets on the unused furniture are just classic. And with the massive fireplaces, bookshelves to the ceiling, and the well-stocked bar, the whole place has an air of old-fashioned comfort, left to rot.

X-Files How The Ghosts Stole Christmas.

What didn’t work

I honestly cannot think of one thing that didn’t work in this episode. It’s funny, it’s touching, it’s dark. It’s the perfect Christmas episode of television.

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In the end, How The Ghosts Stole Christmas is a dark, spooky little tale. It’s filled with scares and chills but still manages to warm your heart. And if you want to fit a little more blood and gore into your holiday watch list, this is a great way to do it.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Jack Frost

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Released in 1997, it would be understandable if you confused this Jack Frost with the movie of the same title that was released in 1998 and starred Michael Keaton. We are not talking about the Michael Keaton Jack Frost because it’s not horror. It’s also not good.

(Look at that, you’re getting two reviews in one today. Merry Christmas.)

No, today we are talking about Jack Frost, starring Christopher Allport and Scott MacDonald. And it is possibly the most bonkers Christmas movie I have ever seen.

The story

We begin our tale in a very messed up fashion. A little girl asks her uncle for a bedtime story on Christmas Eve. The uncle tells her about a serial killer named Jack Frost who was caught after leaving bits of his victims inside pies. But there’s no need to worry, the uncle explains. Because Jack Frost was caught and is being executed that very night.

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Marsha Clark in Jack Frost.

And we won’t be hearing from these two characters again for the whole movie.

Instead, we cut to Jack, being transported to his execution. Somehow he manages to escape, only to be doused with some sort of acid and melted into the snow.

Meanwhile, the sheriff who caught Jack Frost, Sam, is trying to come to terms with his death. He’s thankful that he’s gone, but the nightmare just doesn’t feel over yet.

Then, of course, people start turning up dead in his little town. And in spectacular ways.

Slowly, Jack Frost seems to work his way through a family called the Metzners. Even though it appears that this family didn’t have a single thing to do with him. First, he murders their son, then proceeds to stalk the entire family.

Sam is joined by an FBI agent named Agent Manners and a scientist named Stone. Together they fumble around the tiny little town, trying to figure out how to kill Jack. Bullets do nothing. He can melt and slip through cracks. But hairdryers seem to do the trick.

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A still from 1997 Jack Frost.

What worked

I’m going to be honest here. Nothing in this movie was good. The effects were bad. The writing is bad. The constant snow puns are bad. The acting is bad.

But it is this exact combination of bad aspects that makes Jack Frost funny. It is so intentionally bad that it is hilarious. None of the characters are likable, so we’re not overly upset when they’re murdered in horrific ways. None of the effects look real, but they look fun. The writing is awful, but it’s hilarious.

And here’s the greatest thing about Jack Frost. Everyone working on it is having fun. You can just tell that every single actor is having the time of their lives. Nobody was having a single bad day on stage here. And that alone makes Jack Frost enjoyable to watch.

What didn’t work

One thing I have to say here is that the acting was just bad. It was not, I believe, intentionally bad acting. That is to say, it wasn’t a talented actor acting badly for comedic effect. This was just bad acting from almost everyone in the cast. The two exceptions are Allport and Marsha Clark, who plays Marla. Everybody else is overacting so hard that they’re pulling muscles. They’re chewing the scenery so much that they’re not going to have room for Christmas cookies.

Or oatmeal.

To enjoy Jack Frost, you need to have a deep appreciation for campy effects, bad snow puns, and really inappropriate humor. It’s one of those movies where you turn off your brain, make sure all loose items are secured and your lap bar is completely locked, and enjoy the ride.

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If you can do that, then you’re going to have a great time with this movie. If not, don’t worry. There’s lots more holiday horror to come. 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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