Let us explore a little story about Charlie Hill, who buys a strange jar and takes it home. Although the jar emanates an ominous aura, Charlie does not part with it, as he thinks it has granted him respect among his peers. His wife, Thedy, is terrified of the jar, and her paranoia escalates when people from afar throng to their house to view the curio. Everyone perceives something different in the jar, unable to make out its contents, which enhances its mystery as the episode progresses. After an enraged Thedy breaks the jar, Charlie murders her, and reinstalls the jar for everyone to see: this time, everyone perceives Thedy’s decapitated head inside the seemingly-cursed curio.
Such a twisty, spine-chilling tale can easily be considered a part of “The Twilight Zone,” as several entries in that series have been equally, if not more macabre in their treatment of standard themes in horror. However, the above entry, titled “The Jar”, is actually an episode of the second season of “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour,” which aired in 1964. The reason why “The Jar” is often mistaken for a Serling special is that Hitchcock’s anthology focused more on subtlety than gruesome twists, hinging its horror on absurd scenarios such as the ones in “The Case of Mr. Pelham” and “Lamb to the Slaughter.” Norman Lloyd’s “The Jar” broke the mold of a Hitchcock special in many ways, as it gradually built up an aura of suspenseful mysticism only to subvert expectations and unleash a monstrous act. In the end, the contents of the jar are immaterial, as Charlie’s actions add an irredeemable layer of evil to what the jar might have represented.
Mix-up aside, both Serling’s and Hitchcock’s shows brim with unique gems worth revisiting to good measure.