Story by Gerrit Graham and Chris Hubbell
Directed by Peter Medak
Original Airdate - January 3, 1986
Robert Carradine - Daniel Arnold
Marilyn Jones - Becky Arnold
John Carradine - Prof. Alex Stottel
Robert Morris - Curacai Warrior
Jeff Imada - Curacai Warrior



Daniel Arnold, a professional photographer who, with his wife Becky, has just moved into his ancestral home, buys an old trunk at an estate sale of a famous local adventurer. The trunk has a false bottom, where he finds an old camera hidden, a Kodak 100. The camera still has film in it; film with 70-year-old+ pictures on it. Becky asks him to fix her little pocket Instamatic camera; the door that holds the film in won't stay shut. He says he will, and she leaves it by the kitchen door. He forgets about fixing the camera. It takes him many hours to develop the film from the old camera. The pictures that emerge are exciting; one of them states it was a National Geographic expedition to the Amazon river basin in 1913. The pictures show men and women dressed in turn-of-the-century clothes, with Amazonian natives in their village, dressed in traditional garb.

Daniel remembers that one of the town's oldest men, now a professor, went on the trip as a boy, and he drives over to talk with him. Becky hears a few odd sounds as he leaves. She takes the knife she'd been chopping vegetables with into the living room, looking for the cause of the sounds. She walks past the parlor, and we hear a scream.

Cut to Daniel and the professor talking about the expedition. The professor talks about the tribe, the Curacai, and how eerie it sounded when they were on the hunt. They used a high whistling sound that grated on your nerves. The photographer shows him the pictures, but the old man says there can be no pictures of the Curacai. They believed that to take a picture of them meant you stole their soul, and they nearly killed the foreigners when anyone attempted to take their pictures. The expedition ran into the jungle to get away, all the while the Curacai whistling sounds echoed around them. The photographer disappeared that night. Daniel says that the photographer must have taken the pictures, because the natives were on the film. But when the professor looks through the photos, the natives are gone. The people from the expedition are on the film, but not the natives. Suddenly, Daniel's scared.

He hurries back home, only to find the house apparently deserted. He walks through the kitchen, then through the parlor. There are jungle noises, and a bird flies through the room. He calls for his wife, but no answer. There is movement in the plants, and when he goes over to look, he sees one of the Amazonian natives crouching behind it! He falls back onto a couch, startled, but yells out. The natives have boobytrapped the couch (and the rest of the house) by sticking forks through the seat, and one of the forks pierced his arm. He pulls it out and hearing Becky screaming up stairs he runs up, stumbling on a wire pulled across the top stair and falling on broken glass. He finds Becky in a closet, tied up, and one of the natives falls on him. They fight, and he grabs a camera to use as a weapon. In reaction he hits the button on the camera. The indian changes to a negative image for a second then vanishes, his spirit captured back on film.

He unties Becky and tries to get her out, but another native jumps out at them. He uses the camera on him, and two others setting up a bow and arrow trap in a bedroom. As they get downstairs, 3 more run at them and Daniel captures them all on film. On the porch, another one begins fighting with Daniel, but he's out of film. Becky remembers her broken Instamatic, and after a few agonizing moments of fumbling with the broken catch, she manages to get the camera to work long enough to take the last native's picture.

"Ancient maps included unknown lands labeled "Terra Incognita," and warnings like "Here there by Tygers." Modern maps of an enlightened world show no such disclaimers. Perhaps they should. Perhaps even today there are realms which cannot be charted anywhere, outside the Twilight Zone."



"Still Life" was broadcast in the middle of the first season. It is a fanciful, well-crafted episode that I've always liked. The premise is interesting and rather charming: Taking a picture of someone captures their soul. I have not found any parallel yet in real life society, but I'm sure there must have been an obscure tribe somewhere that once believed in it. I might think it's charming, but to a completely isolated, primitive tribe the concept would have been one of great power with horrifying consequences, and that's the genius behind the story.

It was based on an original story by Gerrit Graham and Chris Hubbell. Gerrit Graham has always been a favorite of mine, thanks to his role in "Used Cars," and I've always felt his talents were underappreciated. The writing is clear and concise though not spectacular. It's a better than average episode, in my opinion, with an interesting premise, executed well.

The two leads, Robert Carradine and Marilyn Jones, are more than adequate in their roles. Jones is animated and does a good job filling in little details about their married life. Robert Carradine is straightforward and likable, and even does a decent job in the fight scenes with the Indians.

The remarkable John Carradine, in (as far as I can tell) his last TV role, is a welcome addition to this episode. As the now-elderly professor, who went on the jungle expedition in 1913 as a boy, he provides the link to the past that the episode must have to work. And with his long career in horror films behind him, we have an idea that something about those pictures will be wrong, even before he says it; such is the power of his amazing presence. Carradine was 79 years old when he appeared in this episode and naturally his acting is not what it was when he was younger, but it's great to have such a legend in the new Twilight Zone. Carradine is also another great actor who appeared in the original Twilight Zone episode, "The Howling Man."

The actors who played the Curacai were very effective. They have no lines, but they convey menace and danger all the same. Robert Morris, who played one of the Curacai on the episode, sent me several photos taken during filming, and related some of his memories of the shoot, for which I sincerely thank him.


Marilyn Jones, Robert Morris and Robert Carradine, on the set of "Still Life." Robert says that the episode "was shot in Monrovia, California in this beautiful home, and we tried our best to keep from breaking anything when we came to life after the film was developed. It was lots of fun shooting this, but the oil base paint (they used for our makeup) was a pain to get off." :-)


Robert Morris (lower left), and the "Amazonian Indians" of "Still Life." Robert tells me that Jeff Imada is on the far right; Jeff was in "Big Trouble in Little China," and, like the rest of the people in this picture, is still actively working in films.