Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Festival of Lists: October 30: THIRTY Favorite Twilight Zone Episodes

Long have I loved The Twilight Zone. There really hasn't been anything comparable on television since.  The brilliant writing, top-notch acting, and anticipated shocks and twists at episode end put the show in the upper echelon of TV history.  It is certainly a mark of quality when a show that completed its first run back in the late 50's and early 60's can still be found on television to this day at any given moment. 

The original incarnation of the show ran for five seasons and gave us some of the most iconic stories of our time.  It was actually hard to pick just thirty episodes, but I did my best. 

Please note that spoilers ensue. 


TIME ENOUGH AT LAST
Probably one of the most terrifying episodes for a bibliomaniac such as myself. 
A man who is constantly struggling to find time to read finds himself with all the time in the world after a nuclear explosion renders him alone with stacks of tomes.  His glee is short lived when he breaks his glasses.

YOU DRIVE
A nervous man experiences strange happenings after he hits and kills a young boy and flees the scene.  His car, apparently taking on a life of its own, honks its horn, flashes its lights, and continues to drive to the scene of the crime, holding the man accountable and doesn't relent until he gives himself up.

WALKING DISTANCE
A bittersweet episode about a man who ends up in the town he grew up in and discovers it to be exactly the same as when he grew up.  A tale that reminds us to make the most of the life we have.

DEATH SHIP
One of the many episodes penned by the prolific Richard Matheson, it is the story of men who, upon investigating an uninhabited world,  discover a space craft that to their surprise, has what looks like their own corpses inside.  Seems like the modern film "Moon" has a bit in common here.

BACK THERE
A man time travels back to 1865 to attempt to stop the assassination of President Lincoln. 
Obviously, he doesn't succeed.  Which is amazing since he is The Professor (Gilligan's Island)!

NOTHING IN THE DARK
A woman is paranoid that death is coming to get her.  Turns out, he is - and he looks like Robert Redford!

KICK THE CAN
A game of kick the can turns a group of elderly nursing home patients back into children for a time.
One man can't grasp the miracle, and is left behind.

THE INVADERS
A lonely old woman battles tiny interlopers from a tiny spaceship that lands on her roof.
Notable for the fact that there is almost no dialogue whatsoever until the very end.

THE DUMMY
In one of the most unnerving episodes, a man determines that his ventriloquist dummy has come to life.
I hate dummies. Period.

MIRROR IMAGE
The excellent Vera Miles is showcased in an episode about a woman who may or may not be losing her mind. In all actuality, she has a malicious doppelganger.  Nice.

LONG DISTANCE CALL
Billy Mumy (Danger Will Robinson!) is a boy who can communicate with his dead grandmother through a toy phone.
  Yikes.

THE MASKS
A fantastic episode about an old man who makes his unappreciative and greedy family wear hideous masks in order to claim their part of his fortune after he passes away.  What they don't realize is that their faces are going to stay that way after they remove the masks.

THE AFTER HOURS
A woman becomes confused in a department store after she makes a purchase on a non-existent 9th floor. 
The big twist?  She's a mannequin who has been "out in the real world" for a month, but is late to return to her podium.

STOPOVER IN A QUIET TOWN
A married couple wake up in a strange house after a drinking binge.  When they try to leave they find an entire town with no life whatsoever.  And all they can hear is a child's laughter.  The big revelation is that the couple was abducted by aliens for the enjoyment of their young daughter!  Love it.

THE MIDNIGHT SUN
A young artist and her landlady attempt to stay alive in their apartment building even though they realize the sun is getting closer and closer to earth.   At the end we realize the exact opposite is happening and she was only dreaming about the heat.  In actuality, everyone is freezing to death.

LIVING DOLL
A disinterested step-father is pissed at his wife's purchase for their daughter.  The Talky Tina doll senses this hate, and flat-out tells him so.  "My name is Talky Tina, and I don't think I like you." And so it begins.
And you thought Chucky was bad.

THE LAST NIGHT OF A JOCKEY
Banned from horse racing for fixing races, a jockey sits in despair in his apartment, wishing to be a "big" man. When his wish is granted by his alter-ego, it backfires when the racing commission reinstates him and he is unable to ride a horse because he's too damn big.  The definition of irony.

LITTLE GIRL LOST
A little girl disappears under the bed into another dimension. 
So that's supposed to be a bad thing?

THE SHELTER
A group of friends turn on each other when faced with their own mortality, stuck inside a bomb shelter during a nuclear attack.  Could this be where George Romero got the idea for some of Night of the Living Dead?

NIGHT CALL
In one of my favorite and definitely one of the creepiest episodes,  an elderly woman is terrorized by a series of unnerving phone calls in the middle of the night.  The phone company traces the call to the local cemetery.  Whoa.

NUMBER 12 LOOKS JUST LIKE YOU
Some time in the future, young adults are supposed to go through The Transformation, in which they are operated on and made to look like an attractive model, so that no one ever gets "unattractive".  Sounds about right for today's society.

NICK OF TIME
Captain Kirk and his wife stop at a roadside diner that has a tabletop "mystic seer", a type of fortune teller machine.  When it gets several things right, the Captain begins to fear his every move, and feels a need to consult the seer for everything.  Actually I think all diners should have these contraptions. Just for shits & giggles.

THE HITCH-HIKER
A young woman on a cross-country journey is plagued by a relentless hitch hiker. When she picks up a soldier that cannot see the hitch hiker, she realizes perhaps she's not actually here with us.

TWENTY TWO
A woman has a recurring nightmare about being in a hospital where she keeps ending up in the basement at the morgue.
But is it a dream?  Or maybe a premonition? Or simply destiny?

IT'S A GOOD LIFE
Young Anthony is not your normal little boy.  He's a monster in disguise, with complete and utter control over a small town, even controlling the weather and the power sources.  Anything and everything he wants, he gets.  And that is the scariest thing of all.

DEATH'S-HEAD REVISITED
A sadistic former Nazi officer is forced to relive the atrocities of a concentration camp, but not physically.  He experiences all these horrors in his mind.  Which to me is not enough retribution for anyone associated with that tragedy.

EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
In one of the best episodes and one of the most famous, a woman goes through surgery after surgery to look like everybody else.  In the beginning of the episode, her face is completely bandaged.  When her bandages are finally removed, it is revealed that she is actually beautiful and the doctors and nurses (and apparently everybody else) are deformed and hideous.  Another good-looking surgery failure comes in to take her away...to live with the rest of the rejects.

DEAD MAN'S SHOES
A vagrant steals a pair of shoes from a mob hit and ends up wearing the dead man's life as well.

NIGHTMARE AT 20,000 FEET
A traveling salesman on a plane thinks he sees something outside, on the wing of the plane. 
This is an incredibly awesome and wildly famous episode which most people have seen. 
The palpable fear of Shatner is impressive, but for more bang for the buck, you need to check out the movie version.

NIGHTMARE AT 20,000 FEET
Much as I love Shatner, this performance by John Lithgow is freaking legendary. 
He is genuinely TERRIFIED, and it comes across in the film in spades.  One of my favorite roles in horror.

"WANNA SEE SOMETHING REALLY SCARY??"

6 comments:

iZombie said...

brilliant! list, my wife and i need to re-watch the many of those episodes you did hit all of my favorites. i gave you a shout out the other day for all your hard work.
have a happy Halloween..

jeremy

Christine Hadden said...

Thanks for the shout out Jeremy! And Happy Halloween to you as well :)

Emily said...

Love love love love (26 more times).

Also, great to see Shelter on there! It's a great morality tale that never seems to get attention.

Christine Hadden said...

Emily: You're exactly right, that episode never seems to get much play. I don't even see it much in reruns, but it's such a good one!

Kaijinu said...

Nothing in the Dark will always be my favorite Twilight Zone episode. The interaction of both Death and the old woman was so sweet.

threeguys1movie.com said...

Thats a great list! I have not seen a few of those. Now to find an extra 15hrs to check them all out. :-)