Rod Serling’s iconic Twilight Zone television series gave him freedom. Wanting to delve into more controversial subjects, the sci-fi anthology allowed him to do so.
Social commentaries were regularly made on the horrors of modern reality… the fear of aging and obsession with recapturing youth… these themes were heavily touched on in his writing. Even admitting his own desire to be forever young.
Examining Twilight Zone’s “Queen of the Nile”
In The Twilight Zone’s “Queen of the Nile”, Rod Serling introduces a glamorous world-renowned actress. The ageless, Pamela Morris. A femme fatale and star of stage and screen. Best known for her breakout role as Cleopatra in the film Queen of The Nile. Pamela Morris, portrayed by Ann Blyth, has invited the press to her home. Syndicated columnist, Jordan Harrick, is granted an exclusive interview. Harrick is played by Lee Phillips, who had starred in a previous episode of The Twilight Zone. Later appearing in the premiere of The Outer Limits.
I guess we all have a little vaunting itch for immortality.
As Jordan Harrick arrives at Pamela’s mansion, he notices the décor is influenced by her first movie. Marble statues of Ushabtis and sphinxes. Ankhs and other religious icons of ancient Egypt. Though slightly creepy, he is more focused on an oil painting of Pamela. A life size portrait of the dark and petulant beauty. Dated almost 25 years prior. When the starlet greets her guest, Mr. Harrick’s breath is taken away. Bewitched by the lovely vision. Pamela looks the same as she did in the painting.
He has just looked into the face—of the Twilight Zone.
The nervous journalist outright asks the star’s age. Yet she only laughs at his boldness. Not only gorgeous, but Pamela is also warm and charming. Responding with a clever weave of words. Never revealing her secrets but luring Mr. Harrick in closer. Just as the pair become comfortable with their coquettish game, an elderly woman interrupts them. The elegant woman stares at Jordan Harrick while slipping into the room. Pamela introduces her as Viola Draper, her mother. She is polite yet intense as if something is pressing her to tell him something. Pamela will dismiss her mother and explain to Jordan that her mind is slipping away with age. But Mrs. Draper appears again, confronting Mr. Harrick as he is about to leave. A harbinger away from her daughter’s supervision. Warning the journalist to stay away from Pamela. She is extremely dangerous and perhaps even eternal. The secrets of which lie upon an insect from Egypt, a scarab beetle.
The scarab beetle is seen frequently in recovered relics from Egyptian pyramids. A hieroglyph and icon of religion and funerary customs. The scarab is associated with the divine manifestation of the early morning sun. It is also a symbol of rebirth, immortality, and transformation. Scarabs are a common sub trope of ancient Egypt themed horror. There were several gross out scarab beetle moments in The Mummy franchise. On the lighter side, there was the slapstick scarab scene in the horror comedy, Bubba Ho-Tep. A scarab in amber amulet was pivotal in R. L. Stine’s Goosebumps title “The Return of The Mummy”.
Jordan Harrick becomes increasingly suspicious of Pamela. She slips ups with dates and films, pushing him to investigate. With his own gut feelings and her mother’s confessions, Jordan presses her for the truth. But the movie star will distract him with her flirtatious word play and slip something into his coffee. Rendering the man sweaty and faint. As Jordan struggles to compose himself, Pamela presents a live scarab in a small glass box. Explaining that it was a gift from the pharaohs as they understood its power. As the young man finally collapses, Pamela places the beetle upon him. Drained of his very soul, he turns into a dusty pile of bones. Pamela Morris then places the rare scarab on her breast, rejuvenating her energy. “I told you, Mr. Harris…” she says breathlessly. “I was once queen of the Nile.” Just then her doorbell rings and another handsome young journalist arrives. Trying to get the scoop on the ageless Pamela Morris.
Finding Meaning and the Horror in Queen of the Nile
The Twilight Zone’s “Queen of the Nile” is a refreshing change. Most ancient Egypt horror is all curses and mummies. But themes of immortality run strong in the genre as well as The Twilight Zone TV show. In the first season there was, “Escape Clause” and “Long Live Walter Jameson”. Or from season 5, “A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain”. But The Twilight Zone’s “Queen of the Nile” has more vampiric connotations. Draining the life force of others to become eternal, similar to Guillermo De Toro’s Cronos.
However, it is the 1960 Universal-International film The Leech Woman that “Queen of the Nile” shares a sisterly bond with. Both peering into the dark psyche of women refusing to submit to nature. Femme fatales weaponizing their beauty for power. Retaining youthful looks by sacrificing men to the endless eternity of… the Twilight Zone.
Last Updated on June 25, 2021.