Sunday, June 3, 2012
Roots of Horror: You're Entering A Different Dimension
Today we travel to a different dimension… a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. Journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination—that’s the signpost up ahead, your next stop, The Twilight Zone. A most beloved series created by Rod Serling, I’m sure all of you are as great of fans as I. Let us inspect a few episodes and the fascinating supernaturality that is rooted in them. (WARNING: Mild spoilers are issued below for those who are not familiar with these episodes)
PHONE CALLS FROM THE DEAD
Two episodes concern the same phenomena that is called simply and aptly, “phone calls from the dead”. Those two are “Long Distance Call” and “Night Call”.
Admittedly, the idea and very name of this particular supernatural occurrence may seem pretty silly to skeptics, but is very highly reported; so common that we see it twice in the original Twilight Zone series.
Although the name seems to say it all, there are a few consistent factors that are present in stories and reports of phone calls from the dead. The calls are almost always made by a lost relative or someone who very close to the recipient in life. In some cases the caller is thought to be conveying a message, but often the dead are simply believed to want to make contact, as seems the situation in these two episodes. However, there are a few differences between the episodes, and interesting enough, they both coincide with actual reports of phone calls from the dead!
Another thing that is strange, but does not occur in either episodes, is that researchers on the subject have gathered that sometimes the deceased person making the call tell of someone allowing them to do so—a “they”. Any happening of this phenomena is quite mysterious, and it leads one to ponder just how the
deceased are able to make this particular type of contact, and how difficult or unfavorable it might be.
These days parapsychologists don’t take the idea of phone calls from the dead very seriously, but in the mid-twentieth century reports could be found in newspapers, and two parapsychologists, D. Scott Rogo and Raymond Bayless, were so interested that they published a book in 1979. Simply titled Phone Calls From the Dead, the book became and remains the leading source on the subject.
By the way, anyone remember the movie One Missed Call? That movie was terrible…
My all-time FAVORITE Twilight Zone episode is from the very first season, and it is called “The Hitch-Hiker”. It follows a young woman, traveling cross-country on her own, who is stalked by the same mysterious hitchhiker the entire journey.
This story plays on the very common urban legend of “phantom hitch-hikers”. Tales of this like have been told all over the world, but most commonly in the United States. There are many variations, but the story usually goes that a person driving on some lonely road stops for a hitchhiker. The hitchhiker is quiet, not saying much, and is dropped off at a residence. Before the driver pulls away, they notice that their passenger has left something behind—a scarf, coat, hairpin, etc. They run quickly up to the house and knock on the door, which is answered by a stranger. The driver explains the situation, but the stranger sadly tells them that the person they are speaking of has died several years ago. The hitchhiker in the stories is usually thumbing up at the spot where they were killed, and often appear there on the anniversary of their death.
The Twilight Zone episode does not take on this structure, but a unique one applying the basic elements of the phantom hitchhiker legend and the result is an extremely unsettling and satisfying story.
Perhaps the most famous “real-life” phantom hitchhiker is that of Resurrection Mary from Chicago, Illinois. In life, she was a young girl in a dress and dancing shoes walking home from the dancing hall one night when she was struck by a car and killed. The driver fled, never to be identified. Now she stalks the road where she was killed, hitching rides and sitting quietly in the car until it passes Resurrection Cemetery, where she either vanishes or is dropped off, only to disappear through the iron gates…
If you have any experiences similar to these phenomena, please feel free to share! Also if you know of any legends, books, or movies that are relevant, let me know!