Armagideon Time

Nothing speaks to the myriad distractions thrown in my path this October than it took three weeks for me to realize I hadn’t yet revisited an essential piece of my annual Halloween experience.

Twilight Zone Magazine played a huge role in shaping my younger self’s interest in and engagement with all things horror, fantasy, and sci-fi. It was my introduction to critical theory, film analysis, and the intramural debates waged within the various component scenes. Even when I didn’t fully understand the nuance of the arguments presented, simply knowing such things existed was a revelation unto itself.

Of all the issues of the periodical that passed through my greasy fingers during the Reagan Era, the October 1982 Halloween Special remains nearest and dearest to my heart. So much so, in fact, that it was only exception to the “five bucks or less” rule put into place when I set about reassembling a run of the magazine a decade back.

(Of course, no sooner did I slip tenner to an eBay seller than I found one at Heroes Con for two bucks. I bought it anyhow and passed it on to pal Ken Lowery.)

So what’s so special about this particular issue?

The Halloween branding, for starters, which heightened the pants-wetting trepidation and excitement that my scaredy-cat ten year old self met each new issue of TZM. Seriously, I’d check the magazine rack at the local convenience store each month for the latest issue, immediately buy it when it showed up, then make my parents hide it from me after it gave me nightmares.

On the substance front, the issue contained:

– Gahan Wilson’s reviews of ET, The Thing, and Poltergeist, with sardonic observations about the effects-driven rise of the “non-human lead”

– Stephen King’s rave review of an as-yet-undistributed indie gore-fest titled The Evil Dead

– a lengthy interview with John Carpenter

– an essay about the ongoing battles between the “old guard” and “upstarts” in genre fiction

– Tom Disch’s savage review of Battlefield Earth

– full-color center feature on Halloween III

– a photo/text piece on old graveyards and unusual tombstone inscriptions

– John Alfred Taylor’s “Hell Is Murky” and Jeffrey Goddin’s “The Smell of Cherries,” my two favorite bits of fiction from TZM’s entire run. The former is cosmic horror set in pre-apocalyptic Eighties LA and the latter is a damn effective ghost story that still gives me the willies.

My original copy of the issue slipped out of my careless hands within a matter of months, yet the contents stuck with me for decades. I was honestly shocked at how much of it I’d retained in the twenty-odd years between losing it and scoring a replacement.

Yet my most vivid recollection of it has nothing to do with what’s between the magazine’s covers. It’s a memory of reading in in the back of mt parents’ Cordoba as we made our annual trip to the Topsfield Fair. The leaden sky, the blustery weather, the highway panorama of autumn foliage enhanced the creepy vibe and gave a unearthly atmosphere to the rest of the afternoon.

In a oddly personal and nostalgic way, the October 1982 issue of Twilight Zone Magazine exemplifies the season for me.

Recommended listening: The Ventures – Twilight Zone (from The Ventures in Space, 1964)

A dimension of sight and –especially — sound.

2 Responses to “Halloween Countdown: October 22 – That’s the signpost”

  1. Caffeinated Joe

    Must be a great issue to curl up with on a cool October night!

  2. PE

    Oh man, I used to buy that mag all the time! Even had two letters to the editor published!!

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