Friday, November 28, 2008

Perchance to Dream (1959)

Edward Hall has a few problems. First, he has a heart condition. Too much excitement can cause cardiac arrest. Second, he has insomnia. Or more accurately, he can't let himself fall to sleep, because he is haunted by increasingly terrifying nightmares that can trigger the kind of excitement he must avoid to stay alive.

In one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes, ("Perchance to Dream", Season 1) Hall (Richard Conte) finally seeks help from a psychiatrist after going without sleep for several days.

At the doctor's request, Hall describes several variations of his nightmares, including a recurring one at a surreal amusement park. It's the imagery of the amusement park that makes this episode stand out--footage of real carnival rides (it's actually Santa Monica's legendary and long gone Pacific Ocean Park) combined with stylized sets that could only come from Hall's imagination.
"I was at an amusement was the kind of place you see only in nightmares. Everything warped and twisted out of shape. But it was real, too. Very real." -Edward Hall

Step right up and see Maya the Cat Girl...perhaps a bit too exciting for our Mr. Hall?

After the show, Maya approaches Hall and lures him to the funhouse, a nightmarish gallery of bizarre exhibits.

Finally, Maya pressures Hall into riding the roller coaster, despite his protests.

Maya seems to be enjoying herself!

Hall, not so much...

I won't reveal the ending, other than to say it is terrifying and comes with a twist.

This episode was written by genre author Charles Beaumont, based on his short story of the same name, which can be found in the collection "The Magic Man". Unfortunately Beaumont's entire body of work seems to be out of print as of this writing.

The episode can be found on DVD in the Twilight Zone: Season One (or, if you didn't want to invest in an entire season, it is available on a single-disc, 4-episode collection called The Twilight Zone: Volume 7.)

1 comment:

Mr Bloody Mojo said...

For as pretty as she was Maya used to terrify the hell out of me back then.