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Treasures Of The Twilight Zone

directors: Robert Stevens, Robert Butler, and Robert Enrico

75 minutes (PG) 1959, 1964
Aviva / CBS DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Steven Hampton
This disc features a collection of three complete digitally re-mastered episodes from Rod Serling's excellent genre TV series that are seminal, distinctive or otherwise notable in some way. All material is presented in black and white.
   Where Is Everybody? was the first episode broadcast (2nd October 1959) and set the tone and style for many of the psychological SF stories that followed with its ordinary protagonist caught up in a mysterious situation - here, it's the vanished townspeople ploy - resolved or not, as the case may be, in a wholly unexpected twist ending. The Encounter (originally aired on 1st May 1964) remains one of the most controversial tales from the show's initial six year run because it's a keen psychodrama of racial tensions between a WWII South Pacific veteran (Neville Brand) and a young Japanese/American (George Takei, a regular on Star Trek). This tragedy is particularly riveting, even by today's shock-'em-at-any-cost standards.
   My favourite of the three, and undoubtedly one of the greatest short films of all time (it also won an Oscar in that category), is An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge (28th February 1964) - actually a French production based on a story by the great Ambrose Bierce, and a western period piece concerning the seemingly miraculous escape of a hanged man.
   DVD extras: option to play episodes as a feature or separately may seem a tad redundant if you have a remote control skip function, but the itemised menu also offers access to each episode in three chapters. The package comes with an illustrated 20-page booklet of info about the first 16 volumes in this collectable series DVD series. Inside The Twilight Zone includes a filmed pitch by Serling for The Twilight Zone to sponsors (eight minutes), an incisive TV interview (circa 1959) by Mike Wallace with Serling talking about scriptwriting and censorship (you will have to excuse poor image quality of this vintage stuff but the sound is fine, and there's 21 minutes worth of Serling's honesty and gravitas - making this an essential purchase for serious fans). You also get a bunch of easily navigable on-screen texts covering a thumbnail biography of Serling, season-by-season notes, quick series history, capsule reviews and supplementary credits for those involved in the three episodes here. English or French sound, plus five language subtitles.


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