30 Minutes of Horror: The Twilight Zone "Five Characters in Search Of An Exit" (1961)

I'm a huge fan of anthology television (It inspired my web-series Holidays of Terror). I love being able to sit down and watch a story unfold in front of me for 30 minutes, not having to commit to seasons worth of binge watching. I'm able to bounce around episodes, skipping the lame ones and going straight to the good stuff. In this ongoing series I'll delve into my favorite anthology shows. Also, occasionally I'll cheat and review episodes from series that run an hour long; but hey, those still count! 

I figured I'd start with a show almost everyone universally loves, The Twilight Zone (if not, something is wrong with you.)  The show, which first aired in 1959 and ran for five seasons, consisted of science fiction tales dealing with monsters, paranormal, and the Armageddon. The show's creator, Rod Sterling, would introduce each episode with an opening and closing monologue and would end with some sort of morality tale or twist. The show was way ahead of its' time to say the least. 

My first experience with The Twilight Zone was in the early nineties. Every New Year's eve WPIX 11, a channel here in New York, would run their annual New Year's Eve Twilight Zone marathon. While the adults partied, waiting for the ball to drop, I'd be in the other room mesmerized with what was on the TV. At this point, I was more involved with the marathon then Dick Clark's New Year's rockin' Eve. 

One of the first episodes I remember watching, during said marathon, was "Five Characters in Search of an Exit". The premise of this episode centers around five people; A Major, Ballerina, Clown, Bagpiper, and Tramp all mysteriously wake up inside of a room with no exits or windows. Also, a loud ringing noise erupts from time to time that is disorienting the group. Paranoia ensues and the five characters must band together to escape; along with figuring out the reason behind them being put into this room in the first place. Personally I always thought the acting in this episode was top notch. Both Murray Matheson (The clown) and William Windom (The General) steal the show. Each have their own characteristics foreshadow the somewhat depressing ending (I'll get into that in a sec.) The Clown, for the most part, seems unaffected by the scenario and tends to joke around constantly. He specifically annoys The General, who is determined to escape with the group, thinking of different ways they can escape the hell they are in. Even after failing in their first attempt, he continues to push them. 

Now the ending, whoa! It's great! You don't expect it coming, well I didn't when I initially watched it. It turns out the five characters are just that, characters. They are different toys to be donated to a girl's orphanage. The cylinder room is actually a barrel sitting in the middle of the street and the loud ringing is the bell the handler is using to get pedestrians attention,(like those salvation army bells you hear during the holidays.) The episode ends with the haunting images of the characters frozen faced and mannequin like. A single tear falls from the ballerina's eyes, she slowly moves and hold the majors hands as the scene fades. It's a very downbeat/depressing ending, but really effective. I'll never forget seeing it for the first time and feeling chills run down my spine. I watch the episode at least once a year and it continues to leave me with the same sensation. 

I'm sure I'll revisit "The Twilight Zone" again, considering how many episodes I love and it being one of my favorite shows that fits the anthology format. Check it out!

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Museum of Death (Hollywood, CA)

I just returned from a short-but-relaxing trip to LA. Before heading out, I looked into a few places I wanted to visit, trying to pick out the most fun and least touristy options. On that list was "The Museum of Death." I was worried that this was going to be just another tourist trap, but after checking out their site and learning more about the museum through the internet and a few friends, I was won over!

The museum is located on Hollywood Blvd, just a few blocks from the TCL Chinese Theater. Out front, a Large skull is painted on one of the walls, with the words "Museum of Death" over the top. You can't miss the building. Once you enter, you'll be inside of the gift shop, next to the ticket desk. All of the walls are plastered with taxidermy animals, pictures of serial killers, and coroner tools. They even had a fish tank with living conjoined turtles, which had 2 or 3 heads if I remember correctly. We were told that this was a self-guided tour and that we should take our time walking through all of the different rooms. I won't go through the entire museum (that'll just spoil it) but here are some of the highlights.

·  Charles Manson Murders Room (Murder photos, memorabilia, authentic blanket sewn by his family, Etc...) 

·  Seeing real art work by serial killers (Richard Ramirez, John Wayne Gacy, David Berkowitz,etc...)

·  A piece of the closet Rozz Williams (Singer of the Goth band Christian Death) hung himself in.

·  Area dedicated to notorious punk singer GG Allin (They had an autograph of his signed in blood)

·  The Heavens Gate recruiting video.

Be warned, apparently people have been known to pass out due to the graphic nature of some of the exhibits. Inside the museum are images and videos of real deaths; murders and autopsies are on full display. They even had a room with chairs set up for people to watch old Traces of Death videos. I thought the most disturbing thing was a wall full of images from real car accidents, but even that you can easily avoid by looking away. I highly recommend checking out the Museum of Death, especially if you have an interest in the morbid side of life.

For more info check out the museums official Site: http://www.museumofdeath.net/

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