Saturday, March 14, 2015

Little Girl Found in "The Twilight Zone"

Matheson's Twilight Zone episodes include "The Invaders" and "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"
One of the spookiest of the episodes in Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone was Little Girl Lost by Richard Matheson.
Matheson, the writer who inspired Stephen King, was the creative force behind such novels as The Shrinking Man, I Am Legend and A Stir of Echoes and such films as The Night Stalker, What Dreams May Come and Somewhere in Time.
In Little Girl Lost, suburban parents can hear their small daughter crying, but can’t see her because she has fallen through a dimensional hole in her bedroom. And that hole is closing.
Strangely enough, the 1953 short story on which Matheson based the episode was inspired by a real-life event.
“Our older girl, Tina — the same name as in the story — was crying, and I went into the room,” Matheson recalled in Twilight and Other Zones: The Dark Worlds of Richard Matheson. “Actually, the apartment was so small, it was just a wooden army cot that she slept on at that time. I felt around and she wasn’t on the bed, and I thought, ‘Oh, my Lord, the poor kid fell on the floor,’ then I felt on the floor and she wasn’t there. When I felt under the bed I couldn’t find her. She had gone under the bed and rolled all the way to the wall, and that’s where I found her. Then, of course, given the diabolical writer’s mind, you know, after the kid stops crying, you think of a story.”
Robert Sampson, Sarah Marshall and Charles Aidman in "LGL"
The episode, one of more than a dozen Matheson wrote for Twilight Zone, is clearly an uncredited inspiration for the 1983 horror film Poltergeist, in which an identical situation occurs.
Matheson became sadly accustomed to having a greater cultural influence than he was paid for. His novel I Am Legend, about a lone man holding out against a world overrun by vampires, has been filmed three times officially, and once unofficially as George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. And that film, of course, gave birth to the plague of zombies that haunts us to this very day.

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