Terrifying Twilight Zone Episodes Which Remind Us That It was a True Pioneer of the Horror Genre
December 1, 2017 By Cait Russell
Imagine That In a Totalitarian State, You Were Determined to Be Obsolete, and Sentenced to Death. How Would You Fight Back?
Photo by: CBS Television, via WikiCommons.
Whether or not you're a fan of The Twilight Zone, there's no denying the show is a truly groundbreaking show when it comes to horror television. In fact, you can trace the inspiration for many of modern horror's most popular themes, twists, and focuses back to The Twilight Zone, which pioneered many of the iconic horror themes that we all know and love - creepy dolls that come to life, communication from beyond the grave, an odd twist of fate, human isolation & the fear of being alone, and many more.
If you haven't had a chance yet to watch all 156 episodes, I strongly recommend you do - the entire anthology, which originally aired between 1959 and 1964, still stands up to this day, and although pop culture may have spoiled a few of the twists, there's still plenty to love, and all sorts of interesting details to catch.
- Eye of the Beholder - Season 2, Episode 6 (Series Episode 42) - Eye of the Beholder may very well be one of the most infamous Twilight Zone episodes that ever aired. In the episode, a young woman, Janet Tyler, has undergone eleven cosmetic surgical procedures (the maximum allowed by law) to fix her disfigurement. Throughout the entire episode, you don't see anyone's faces, which, upon first watch, you might not catch, since there are a lot of fascinating and cool videography techniques used to mask this, and it works quite well.
But why does everyone thing Janet is a hideous monster who is simply too ugly to exist in society? Well, we won't spoil the twist ending for you - it's definitely worth a watch!
- Long Distance Call - Season 2, Episode 22 (Series Episode 58) - Little Billy has a special bond with his grandmother (his father's mother), that simply can't be broken - even after grandma passes away. When Grandma passes on, she starts calling Billy on his toy telephone, which unsurprisingly, creeps out Billy's mother quite a bit.
But that's just the beginning - things get really creepy at grandma's funeral, when Billy runs into traffic, and is almost hit by a passing car. When the driver asks him why he ran into traffic, he tells the driver that someone told him to, but later denies this when his father asks. Everyone is rightfully freaked out, Billy's mom is convinced that Grandma somehow had a hand in this from beyond the grave, and so naturally, Billy's dad tries to explain death and that Billy's Grandma isn't here anymore, and he asks Billy not to use his creepy phone-to-the-other-side in front of Mom anymore.
Later that night, Billy's Mom here's him laughing to himself, and when she takes the toy phone from his hand, he hear Grandma's voice on the other side. It turns out Billy's grandma has been urging the boy to commit suicide so that they could be together - yeah - seriously. Though at first glance this might not sound all that scary, trust me - this episode is downright bone chilling.
- Living Doll - Season 5, Episode 6 (Series Episode 126) - Dolls are creepy without any help from Rod Serling, but he manages to make them even creepier in this episode, Living Doll. The doll in question, Talky Tina, belongs to a young girl, Christie, who loves the doll with all her heart. Her mother Annabelle just remarried a cruel, and mean man, Erich, who is...less than nice to Christie. Well, as you might imagine, Talky Tina simply will not stand for this. Instead of chirping out her usual "My name is Talky Tina, and I love you!" when Erich picks up the doll, she says "My name is Talky Tina, and I don't like you" in what can only be described as a downright menacing (albeit deserved) tone.
At first, Erich believes that his new wife Annabelle is playing a trick on him somehow - payback for being cruel to her daughter - he doesn't realize that the doll has come to life. But things escalate, Erich tries to dispose of the doll, and, well - if you've seen any horror movie that has dolls that have a spirit of their own, you know that you do not try and throw away a doll that's alive and has threatened to kill you.
Who will prevail? The evil stepfather, or the murderous doll protecting her owner? You'll just need to watch to find out.
- The Obsolete Man - Season 2, Episode 29 (Series Episode 65) - Evil Dictators, and the denial of free speech, or self expression where big themes of The Twilight Zone, that aired a mere decade after WWII, and during the heart of The Cold War. In The Obsolete Man, Romney Wordsworth, a librarian, an occupation that is punishable by death under the totalitarian regime of this alternate universe, is (spoiler) is sentenced to death. But that's not the twist. Romney gets to pick his method of execution, which will of course be televised on national TV, and he chooses personal assassin, and requests that only the assassin know the method of killing, which, is highly unusual. The Chancellor, who presides over the court system, grants his request, albeit unusual.
Tension builds throughout the episode, and comes to an epic and ironic crescendo after the state television cameras are installed in Mr. Wordsworth's study to capture his death for eager audiences.
This one is more of a psychological thriller, and the twist is great.
- Perchance to Dream - Season 1, Episode 9 (Series Episode 9) - Often cited as the inspiration for A Nightmare on Elm Street, this episode of The Twilight Zone is an absolute must-see classic. A man with a severe heart condition, Edward Hall, believes that if he falls asleep, he'll die. Why does he believe that? Well, his condition is very serious, and any sort of startling, scaring, surprises, or major stress could literally kill him.
You'd think rest would be good for a man with such a condition. Wrong. Edward has been having a recurring dream where a beautiful woman lures him into a funhouse, and tries to scare him to death. Now, even though this is a dream, this could cause his blood pressure to actually spike, and could in fact actually kill him. So Edward seeks out the help of local psychiatrist Dr. Rathmann, who tries to calm his patient, and assure him he's just experiencing a serial dream, and that he has complete control.
Things are going well - until Edward notices that the good doctor's receptionist is the same beautiful woman that's been luring him to his death in his dreams.
What's Your Favorite Episode of The Twilight Zone? Let Us Know in the Comments Below!