Was the title for the Twilight Zone lifted from this obscure 1957 zombie movie?

Originally published at: Was the title for the Twilight Zone lifted from this obscure 1957 zombie movie? | Boing Boing


Maybe ask Rod’s daughter, Anne Serling. She’s pretty active on Twitter.


He claims novelty, but…


When Rod Serling was asked how he came up with the title The Twilight Zone, he replied, “I thought I’d made it up, but I’ve heard since that there is an Air Force term relating to a moment when a plane is coming down on approach and it cannot see the horizon. It’s called the twilight zone, but it’s an obscure term which I had not heard before.”


“In the Twilight Zone” was a 1909 novel by Roger Carey Craven…

Twilight zone is from 1901 in a literal sense, a part of the sky lit by twilight; from 1909 in extended senses in references to topics or cases where authority or behavior is unclear. In the 1909 novel “In the Twilight Zone,” the reference is to mulatto heritage. “She was in the twilight zone between the races where each might claim her …” The U.S. TV series of that name is from 1959.


now i want to see this movie. i have this great DJ mix from a decade ago, and he samples audio from SOME 1950s zombie movie, and i’ve never been able to figure out which movie. the audio bits are so great, and it sounds like it takes place on some island somewhere.


I used to see this punk band Don’t in SF, they did a great mash up of Highway to the Dangerzone, with Twilight Zone in the Dangerzone place. Gosh I miss live music.

Highway to the Twilight Zone
Gonna take it right into the Twilight Zone
Highway to the Twilight Zone
Ride into, the Twilight Zone


Google Ngram has lots of pre-1957 examples of the phrase in print, including at least one in the 1830s. Some of them might be spurious, but it doesn’t seem to be an unheard of combination of words. Which makes sense, since “twilight” lends itself to poetic usage.


Boys ‘n’ goils… lets try this!

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The phrase “twilight zone” to mean a gray area, a zone of uncertainty, or a sketchy part of town has been in use for a long time. Here are cited uses from the Oxford English Dictionary:

twilight zone n. (a) spec. an urban area in which housing is becoming decrepit;
(b) gen. an indistinct boundary area combining some of the characteristics of the two areas between which it falls; (c) occasionally, a dimly illuminated region.

1909 Arena Mar. 273/2 Such organization will leave no ‘twilight zone’, no ‘no man’s land’, for railway corporation dodgers.

1918 Policeman’s Monthly June 30/1 There still remain twilight zones in most centers of population.

1920 J. G. Frederick Great Game of Business iii. 23 Be aware that the test of real ‘honesty’ comes in the ‘twilight zone’ between what is quite clearly honest and dishonest.

1938 Jrnl. Royal Aeronaut. Soc. 42 492 The twilight zone extends to about 20° either side of the equi~signal zone centre.

1960 Daily Tel. 20 June 17/6 There are many towns with ‘twilight zones’ of shabby and out~dated houses.

1969 Times 29 Jan. 10/7 It lives between 300 and 500 metres below the surface of the ocean, in the region to which light penetrates with such difficulty that it may be considered as a kind of twilight zone.

1981 Washington Post 26 Apr. a1/1 Several key officials charged with formulating foreign policy remain in a bureaucratic twilight zone almost 100 days after Reagan’s inauguration.


The prologue to the zombie film also uses the phrase “The Walking Dead”, but it’s not hard to imagine two writers coming up with that independently.

That jumped out at me as well :grinning: I wouldn’t be surprised if that inspired Kirkman to use the name. The Walking Dead is full of references to every imaginable [don’t say zombie] film of the past.

Phrases are basically never original though. We should really let go of that idea. We all absorb things from the culture and synthesize them in our minds to the point where we think we invented them, but creativity is not clean like that. I’m sure people were saying “twilight zone” long before it showed up in the OED too.

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there’s only so many crayons in the box

It always amuses me when kids find a phrase that’s currently rare but was fairly common in previous generations. They think, “Oh wow, this must have some kind of deep, special meaning.”

Of course, my amusement turns to disgust when morons construct a religion out of this kind of thing. Seriously, 2,000 years ago the phrase “son of god” was thrown around a lot in the Roman empire and surrounding areas. It was just common hyperbole, like the coins with the emperor’s image that said “filius dei.”

The TV show Les Revenants filmed the entire season from dusk to dawn, to symbolize the Twilight Zone or borderline between the living and dead.

Great show, by the way…

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