Exploring “Night Call”

It actually wasn’t too difficult to find a little bit of information of the Twilight Zone episode “Night Call”. This isn’t too surprising as this series originally aired during a very turbulent time in history and in itself was ground breaking.

“Night Call” was set to air on November 22nd, 1963, but was interrupted by the unexpected death of John F. Kennedy. Coincidentally, the British television show “Dr. Who” was set to make its series premiere the next night, but was also interrupted by news casts for about a minute and a half due to coverage of the story.

This episode was based directly on a well known urban legend. The premise of this story was that an elderly woman was found dead with a phone in her hand. On the other end was only a busy signal. Later, it was discovered that inside her husband’s crypt was a phone laying off the hook. Many also accredit the story line to Richard Matheson’s “Sorry, Right Number”

It would be difficult to label this episode with a genre in particularity, mostly because I feel as if the entire series could fall under the Sci-Fi/Horror category.

As filmsite.org states, “Horror are unsettling films designed to frighten and panic, cause dread and alarm, and to invoke our hidden worst fears, often in a terrifying, shocking finale, while captivating and entertaining us at the same time in a cathartic experience.” This can definitely be agreed upon for this episode in particular. What is more frightening and dreadful than a life long guilt come back to haunt you? Ms. Elva Keene was faced with her worst fear, one she had suppressed for decades. Even if it was visually terrifying or brutal as some horror movies are, she was faced all over again with the loss of a man she loved and the part she played in his death. It also plays into some of our fears of a purgatory. And while this story may not delve into mutant monsters or creatures from outer space, it does, as filmsite defines Sci-Fi,  “expresses the potential of technology to destroy humankind”. Noting that this story originated from a 1930’s urban legend, it’s safe to say that the recent rise of communications technology probably attributed a thing or two to the story at hand. Many were curious at the time how the seemingly ever expanding technology would affect their lives, and their were many fears associated with it. The same could ring true today.

Using Mpeg Streamclip, I pasted edit a certain scene in the episode to highlight the angle at which Elva is shown, always in the same place, almost always viewed from a left angle. The scene also becomes emotionally charged quickly, so I feel as if that also adds to my point

Over all, I think this episode is a great example of deriving meaning through methods of film.