By George Bate and Josh Reilly B.
The Twilight Zone is one of the most influential TV series of all time, with creator Rod Serling, who also introduced each episode in an iconic opening, crafting unique anthology stories that often existed in many different genres at the same time. Some episodes played with current events of the time, such as the increasing Cold War fears, as well as the possibility of a dystopian future as seen in a few outings. Each episode was different, but the show often made viewers laugh, cry, and scared.
The scares have become the most well known part of The Twilight Zone, with some truly frightening episodes that are more chilling than many horror films released in the modern day. Serling’s later work on Night Gallery further proved his eye for horror, but some episodes of The Twilight Zone proved to be the pinnacle of the writer’s scare senses.
Check out five of the scariest episodes of The Twilight Zone:
The Howling Man
Premise: David Ellington recounts a story, one that began just after the end of World War I. He was hiking in Europe when he sought refuge in an abbey during a violent rain storm. The residence is isolated and its head, Brother Jerome, tells him he cannot stay. Ellington is ill however and during his short stay meets someone who is being kept prisoner and howls constantly through the night. Ellington believes the Howling Man is being kept there for no good reason but Brother Jerome tells him of the man’s true nature. The decision Ellington makes will haunt him for the rest of his life.
Nightmare At 20,000 Feet
Premise: Bob Wilson is on a flight when he sees a creature of some sort out on the wing of the aircraft. He’s only recently recovered from a nervous breakdown and isn’t sure that what he is seeing is real. Every time someone else looks out the window, the creature hides from view. When the creature begins to tamper with one of the engines he begs his wife to tell the pilots to keep an eye on the engines. If they see nothing, he agrees to commit himself to an asylum when they arrive at their destination. His paranoia drives him to a desperate act.
Premise: When his doctor tells him that he could die at any moment, the wealthy Jason Foster gathers his heirs including his daughter Emily Harper, her husband Wilfred and their children Paula and Wilfred Jr. Jason doesn’t think much of any of them and it’s clear they can’t wait to get their hands on his fortune. It’s Mardi Gras time in New Orleans and he has one last request – for each of them to wear a carnival mask. Each of the masks is meant to reflect some aspect of their personality – and leave a lasting impression on them.
Premise: Erich Streater is upset when his wife comes home with her daughter Christie having bought her yet another doll. Christie loves her new Talking Tina doll but her stepfather takes an immediate dislike to it. Anytime he is alone with the doll, it spouts abusive comments to the effect that it hates him and that it’s going to kill him. He’s convinced that his wife is behind it all, something she vehemently denies. He tries to get rid of the doll but it always seems to reappear – and also seems intent on following through with its threats.
Dr. Bill Stockton has prepared well for any eventuality. He’s built a bomb shelter for himself, his wife and his child. His neighbors on the other hand have done nothing to prepare. During a dinner party, there is an emergency announcement on the radio that unidentified objects have been sighted en route to the US and they may be under attack. As the Stockton’s prepare to use their shelter their neighbors panic asking to be let into the shelter with them. Stockton refuses leading to an angry confrontation.
Images courtesy of CBS and Paramount