Stephen King And The Twilight Zone

Stephen King And The Twilight Zone

Reposting this from http://talkstephenking.blogspot.com/2009/11/stephen-king-and-twilight-zone.html

Another excellent piece.

This year is the 50th anniversary of Rod Serling’s, “The Twilight Zone.” Because Stephen Kng is a product of American culture, it is interesting to see the shows impact on his work. It is also worth noting that in the 1960’s, Serling was as much a part of American culture as King is now.

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King talks directly about the Twilight Zone in his book Danse Macabre. In particular, The Eye of the Beholder episode. But from reading King, it wasn’t any one episode that influenced him, but the entire series. And, perhaps more important, the series eator, Rod Serling.

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King on the popularity of the Twilight Zone:

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“That the Twilight one is. . . near immortal is something will not argue with; in big city markets like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francico it sems to run eternally, hallelujah, world without end, sandwiched into its own twiight zone just after the late evening news and just before the PTL Club. Perhaps only suh anient sitoms as I Love Lucy and My LIttle Margie can compete with the Twilight Zone for that sort of fuzzy, black-and-white, campiristic life which yndication allows.” (Danse Macabre, 220)

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King gives a lot of ink to the Twilight Zone in the chapter of Danse Macabre titled: The Glass Teat.

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“Of all the dramatic programs which have ever run on American TV, it is the one which comes losest to defying any overall analysis. It was not a western or a cop show (although some of the stories had western formats or featured cops ‘n’ robbers); it was not really a science fction show (although the Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows categorizes it as such) not a sitcome (although some episodes were funny); not really ocult (although it did occult stories frequently — in its peculiar fashion), not really supernatural. It was its own things, and in large part that fact alone seems to account for the fat that a whole generation is able to associate the Serling program witht he budding of the sixties . . . at laest, as the sixties are remembered.” (Danse Macabre, 229) See his further comments from on Serling on pages 230-238

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Richard Matheson’s Influence On King:
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According to the Complete Stephen King Universe (a great book), King was heavily influenced by Richard Matheson, one of the Twilight Zone’s key writers.
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In The Twilight Zone Companion by Marc Zicree, King is quoted as saying, “[Matheson] was the first guy that I ever read who seemed to be doing something that Lovecraft wasn’t doing. It wasn’t eastern Europe — the horror could be in the SevenEleven store down the block, or it could be just up the street. Something terrible could be going on even in a G.I. Bill-type ranch development near a college, it could be there as well. And to me, as a kid, that was a revelation, that wax etremely exciting. He was to puttng the horror in places that I could relate to.” (p.57)
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Twilight Zone Episodes Influence On King:
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Think about it: Could the tite “The Dead Zone” have been at least inspired by “The Twilight Zone.” It is certainly a story worthy of the Twilight Zone, isn’t it?
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Paleycenter.org suggests that Christine was influenced by the driverless car from “A Thing About Machines.” http://www.paleycenter.org/influencing-stephen-king-star-trek-cindy-sherman-and-more
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It is worth noting that a writer might have a thought planted from a T.V. show or a conversation, or any number of things. But as they add other ideas, the story becomes their own. And, just for my own notes, I seriously doubt there is a real connection between The Twilight Zone and Christine.
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If I may. . . I think if the Twilight Zone offered King anything, it was simply the power of a strong ending. Twilight Zone is all about the end. The story builds to a climax, gives a twist, and usually leaves you stunned. King has showed a gift for this same type of twisted ending, a skill perhaps enhanced by his love for the Twilight Zone.
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King Becomes Part Of The Legend:
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The admiration doesn’t appear to be a one way street. Not only has King spoken of his love for the Twilight Zone — the Twilight Zone has featured his work in many forms. Of course, the highest Twilight Zone honor is an episode. But there have also been contributions to the Twilight Zone magazine, and interviews. They obviously see that his work is compatable with their genre.
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In 1985 King’s short story from Skeleton Crew, Gramma, was turned into an episode for the New Twilight Zone. Now I don’t remember the 1960’s. But 1985. . . I was a kid living in Los Angels. The Night Stalker was in our newspapers, Star Wars was all the rage, and the New Twilight Zone wasn’t even spoken of. Go figure. And my parents were huge Twilight Zone fans. I guess this series just didn’t take off.
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Twilight Zone Magazine
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April, 1981: The first issue of the Twilight Zone magazine had an interview with Stephen King.
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June, 1981: The Jaunt was published in Twilight Zone magazine.
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May, 1982: Several articles on the upcoming Creepshow.
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July, 1982: King did a review of the movie “The Boogens.” (Neverheard of it!)
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September, 1982: Article on Creepshow
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November, 1982: King’s article appeared “The Evil Dead: Why You Haven’t Seen It Yet and Why You Ought To”
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April, 1983: Twilight Zone magazine had reviews of Creepshow and Different Seasons.
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June, 1983: Twilight Zone magazine published The Raft.
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December 1983: Articles on The Dead Zone appeared.
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Februrary 1984: Articles on Christine.
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June 1984: Reviews of Christine and Pet Sematary.
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August 1984: Reviews of Firestarter. (Movie)
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February 1985: Interview with Stephen King and Peter Straub about their book The Talisman. The cover for ths magazine shows both King and Straub wearing interesting headgear. (Straub looks like an SNL conehead)
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October, 1985: Has a letter from King to the editor.
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December 1985: An interview with Stephen King. (By the way, this issue is only $4 on ebay.)
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February 1986: The Twilight Zone Magazine prints King story, “The Fifth Quarter”.
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December 1986: Interview with Stephen King.
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February 1987: Twilight Zone magazine review of IT.
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Interesting Links:
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The Shining and The Twilight Zone, http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-4121-Pop-Culture-News-Examiner~y2009m9d13-The-Shining-and-The-Twilight-Zone
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Listing of magazines and covers that Stephen King was in. Very well done! http://jerodandlisa.com/king/mags/S-Z/
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King’s bio on the Internet Movie Database includes his Twilight Zone episode, Gramma. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000175/
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The Twilight Zone’s influence On Stephen King, http://www.paleycenter.org/influencing-stephen-king-star-trek-cindy-sherman-and-more
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Watch more here: http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&VideoID=3556683

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