Second-Hand Horror: Memories of The Twilight Zone

It’s that time of year again. The one time of year I willingly seek out things that creep me out. I’ve always been kind of a wimp when it comes to scary movies, so I actually haven’t seen a ton of ‘em. I feel like I’ve seen a good handful of them, though.

When I was a kid, my dad would tell me stories—most of them weren’t original stories, but rather, re-tellings of well-known sci-fi, fantasy, and horror short stories, books, and movies. He’d paint pictures of Middle Earth like he’d been there himself, or re-live an episode of The Twilight Zone or The Ray Bradbury Theater with stunning clarity. And between his animated accounts and my vivid imagination, I got what felt like first-hand experience with fantasy and horror through these secondhand stories.

One of these stories still sticks with me to this day. It’s an episode of The Twilight Zone called “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.” For those unfamiliar with this episode, it concerns the passenger of an airplane (played by William Shatner in the 1963 version and John Lithgow in the 1983 version) who looks out the window and sees a creature on the wing. He repeatedly tries to alert others to its presence, but it always seems to vanish before anyone else can spot it.

Creepiness ensues.

Creepiness ensues.

The two versions play out slightly differently, but the version my dad would relay to me was the one from 1983. My dad would imitate Lithgow’s wild eyes, his panicked gasping, and finally, the grinning leer that the creature gives Lithgow before it flees, twisting away on the wind.

I’ve never actually seen the episode (until today; I decided it was time), but the image that I conjured in my head years ago was powerful enough that, to this day, I dislike sitting on the wing seat of a plane. And the funny thing is, while I fly pretty infrequently, it seems that more often than not, I’m seated right by the wing. And in the window seat, no less.

Check out the two versions below. And stay tuned for another Halloween post tomorrow!


About I've seen that movie, too

I'm just a girl who loves talking about music and movies. And music in movies.
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2 Responses to Second-Hand Horror: Memories of The Twilight Zone

  1. Paul says:

    Hats off to Lithgow, but nothing beats the original. Good post!

  2. Keep looking out the window, and one day you may see a gremlin on the wing. I wrote a short essay on “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.” called “A Psychotic Episode.” If you would like to read it, here is thee link:

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