Six Twilight Zone Episodes Which Remind Us Why This Series is The Pinnacle of Horror TV
November 28, 2017 By Cait Russell
Who Were the REAL Monsters on Maple Street?
Photo by: CBS Television, via Vimeo.
Whether you're already an avid fan, or you're only familiar through pop-culture references, "The Twilight Zone" is an absolute must-watch if you're an avid horror fan. Once you dive into the series, you'll soon realize that many of the themes, twists, and tropes that we see in today's horror flicks were actually created by "The Twilight Zone", and the more episodes you watch, the more apparent Twilight Zone's influence on modern horror becomes.
If you aren't yet initiated into the realm we now know as "The Twilight Zone" it can be intimidating to dive in - the show ran from 1959 - 1964, and in that time, 156 episodes aired (fun fact - show creator Rod Serling wrote or co-wrote 92 of those episodes). While I can't help but recommend watching the series in its entirety, as yes, most of the episodes are that good, we've put together a list of five of the scariest episodes, so you can enjoy your fill of scares as you enter The Twilight Zone.
- Night Call - Series Episode 139 (Season 5, Episode 19) - Night call starts out with little old lady Elva Keene receiving creepy phone calls in the middle of the night, during a particularly rambunctious thunderstorm. First, she hears an eerie static, then, she hears heavy breathing, and other creepy noises. She pleads with the caller, asking him who he is, and begs him to stop calling. The caller finally says "Hello? Where are you? I want to talk with you."
This spooks Elva enough to call the telephone company, who trace the call to a downed telephone line in a cemetery (man, I wish I could get this kind of service from the telephone company nowadays!). She rounds up her housekeeper, and heads out to the cemetery, to see just what's going on, where she finds that the downed pole intersects with a grave.
It's not just the grave of any old person - oh no - it's someone she knows. We won't spoil the ending for you, but needless to say, this is dark, morbid, and twisted, and it will make you think twice about answering calls from blocked numbers and unknown callers.
- The New Exhibit - Series Episode 115 (Season 4, Episode 13) - Have you ever been to a wax museum? No? That's probably for the best. In "The New Exhibit", Martin, the long time curator of a wax museum of famous people, is informed by the museum's owner (who is also Martin's best friend), Mr. Ferguson, that due to low attendance, the museum has been sold, and a supermarket is going to be built in its place.
Well, this sends Martin into a panic - he would hate to see the figures destroyed - so he volunteers to store the figures from his favorite exhibit - Murderer's Row - in his basement at home. Murderer's Row consisted of all sorts of infamous murderous villains - Jack the Ripper, William Burke, Albert. W. Hicks, William Hare, and Henri Désiré Landru - all murderers famous for not only being killers, but the heinous ways in which they killed. Seems like a solid plan, right?
Martin's wife, Emma, is understandably creeped out by the figures, and also frustrated with the insane electric bill that they've been paying to maintain them (they do require constant air conditioning, after all). When Martin only makes a half-hearted effort to rehome the figures, Emma is livid, and she attempts to go turn off the air conditioner downstairs, but she is stopped by none other than the Jack the Ripper Wax Figure, who stabs her to death.
As you might imagine, having a pack of murderous wax figures who you can't prove "did the crime" might make a man seem...guilty - very guilty. Especially if said horde of villains go on a killing spree. If you're creeped out by wax figures, dolls, mannequins and the like, then this is definitely one that should be on your "must watch" list.
- The Hitch-Hiker - Series Episode 16 (Season 1, Episode 16) - Nowadays, picking up hitchhikers on the side of the road is borderline unheard of, however, it wasn't so uncommon back in the 50s and 60s (although a few of the infamous killers of the 1960s basically put an end to the practice). In "The Hitch-Hiker", a young woman, Nan Adams, is driving cross country from New York City to LA, although she gets a flat tire and has an accident in Pennsylvania - one that's so bad, that the mechanic remarks that they should've been calling for a hearse, not a mechanic.
Already on edge after her brush with death, Nan sees a hitchhiker, who the mechanic somehow doesn't see. Really freaked out, she leaves, however, she sees the same hitchhiker in Virginia as she continues her trip. She is of course frightened, and in an effort to get away from him, her car is almost hit by a train, and she becomes convinced the man is trying to kill her.
She encounters him again in New Mexico, and then in Arizona, where she decides to call her mother. If the hitchhiker himself wasn't creepy enough, then Nan's call to her mother is sure to do you in. We won't spoil the ending for you, but needless to say, this twist ending is one that's definitely going to leave you creeped out.
- The Howling Man - Series Episode 41 (Season 2, Episode 5) - This episode is a bit strange - there's a lot of good vs. evil going on, but for good reason. The episode begins with an American tourist, David Ellington recalling his visit to a post-WWI Europe, where he encountered a castle after getting lost in the most epic of torrential downpours. The inhabitants of the castle, monks, cautiously invite him in, but they're quite wary of the man, as he is of them.
As curious travelers are wont to do, David decides to poke around where he shouldn't be after hearing a gut wrenching howl, and he comes across a ragged looking man inside of a cell, who urges and begs David to let him out. When Brother Jerome, the leader of the "monks" catches David talking to the man, he explains to him that the imprisoned man is in fact no man at all, but the Devil himself, and that the staff that's locking the door is The Staff of Truth, and is what allows them to keep the Devil captive.
Well, David doesn't believe him, and he ends up unleashing the Devil onto the world, as we soon learn. And he's recounting this story because he has finally recaptured the Devil after decades of trying, and he blames himself for all of the evils that have happened since releasing him - World War I, the Korean War, the development of nuclear weapons, and all the other evils that have happened since he released the Devil on that fateful night.
But can he keep him captive?
- To Serve Man - Series Episode 89 (Season 3, Episode 24) - An alien race known as "The Kanamits" arrive on earth, and they promise all sorts of good things - to end world hunger, to bring peace, and most of all, To Serve Man. After initial contact, they leave behind a book, which American cryptographer, Michael Chambers, and his Patty, try to decode the book.
Although initially suspicious of The Kanamits, humans begin to embrace the aliens fairly quickly, after they submit to a polygraph to prove their benevolent intentions, and after human volunteers visit their planet, and come back raving about how it is a paradise. Soon after, Kanamit embassies start popping up in all major cities across the globe, and convinced of their good intentions, Mr. Chambers abandons his project of decoding the book left by the aliens, although his assistant Patty isn't quite ready to give up yet - she seems to be the only one who's even the least bit suspicious of the Kanamits.
Well, just as Mr. Chambers is about to head out on his own excursion to The Kanamit home world, Patty cracks the code, and comes running to the boarding area to tell him of her findings. Just what did Patty discover? You'll need to watch the episode to find out - the twist is simply too epic for us to spoil.
- The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street - Series Episode 22 (Season 1, Episode 22) - As is the moral of the story with many an episode, humanity is the real monster after all. Maple Street is the picturesque neighborhood that sets the stage for the episode, but everything is about to change. A strange shadow passes over Maple Street, accompanied with a loud roar, and a flash of light, and soon, the power seems to be out in the area. But it's not just the electricity that won't work - cars won't start, and there's seemingly no way out of the neighborhood.
Everyone is understandably concerned, and that's when little Tommy (presumed neighborhood brat) pipes up that it's probably aliens - he had read about a situation just like this in one of his comic books. Defacto "block leader" Steve tries to quell the witch hunt, but it's too late - neighbors are turning on each other, everyone is in a panicked hysteria, and the world is basically turned upside-down as situation deteriorates.
But who is the villain? Why were the lights off? What's happening? This episode will make you question who are the monsters, and realize - the monster could be living inside of any of us.
What's Your Favorite Episode of The Twilight Zone? Let Us Know in the Comments Below!