The elderly Elva Keen is not too happy when she begins receiving phone calls in the middle of the night. At first the calls are little more that static and her complaints to to local telephone operator, Miss Finch, seem to go unheeded. Over time however, she begins to hear a man's voice but out of fear, tells whoever it is to go away. When Miss Finch reports they've found the problem Elva visits the site only to realize the identity of the caller and that regardless of anything she's said, desperately wants the calls to continue. Written by
Miss Elva Keene lives alone on the outskirts of London Flats, a tiny rural community in Maine. Up until now, the pattern of Miss Keene's existence has been that of lying in her bed or sitting in her wheelchair, reading books, listening to a radio, eating, napping, taking medication - and waiting for something different to happen. Miss Keene doesn't know it yet, but her period of waiting has just ended, for something different is about to happen to her, has in fact already ...
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Perhaps not, but it has to be in the top three, if pure tension, terror and mystery are any measure of the best The Twilight Zone had to offer during its relatively short original run. Adapted from the tightly wound short story 'Long Distance Call', penned by the legendary Richard Matheson (who wrote 15 other TZ episodes, most notably 'Nightmare at 20,000 Feet'), 'Night Call' packs a wallop of fear. Everyone knows how jarring a phone call can be in the wee hours; the quiet of the evening suddenly jangled out of rest by the ringing we normally find a minor annoyance in the daylight. Our nerves are shot for a moment, and then we begin wondering, before we've gotten out of bed to answer the ring... "Who could it be? Is everything alright?" But to find... no one? Silence? Then, a few rings later... an unearthly moaning? The full meaning of the story only becomes apparent in the last few minutes, as is typical for the average TZ episode, but it also packs a punch, turning fear to pathos. The acting is superb, Ms. Cooper really was a fine actress and was perfectly cast here. Her face is so expressive, her fear so palpable that we have no choice but to 'fear' right along, until we find out who... or what... has been calling. And why. This is my personal favorite, for its subtlety and atmosphere. No aliens, no monsters (well, not conventionally), no spaceships, no end of the world preaching, just a good story well told. One you'd hear (or if you were brilliant enough, tell) around a campfire. Simple, clean, and terrifying.
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