Bone Chilling Twilight Zone Episodes That Will Keep You Up At Night
November 28, 2017 By Cait Russell
Imagine You Checked Into a Hospital After Having Recurring Nightmares About Being Lured Into the Morgue, Only to Realize the Morgue is Exactly Where You Pictured It in Your Dreams.
Photo by: CBS Television, via WikiCommons.
Whether or not you were indoctrinated watching reruns as a kid, or you've become a Twilight Zone junkie later on, or even if you've never watched a full episode yet (seriously?!), there's no denying that The Twilight Zone has played a tremendous role in shaping the horror genre we know and love today.
If you haven't yet seen The Twilight Zone, then you might not realize that many of the now-iconic themes, tropes, symbolism, and inspiration in modern horror and thriller cinema is derived from The Twilight Zone. The show aired over 150 episodes, and it only takes watching a few to see just how much influence the show has had for horror writers, directors, and producers today.
Here are some of our top picks for scariest Twilight Zone episodes - we'd recommend watching these with the lights on:
- The Masks - Season 5, Episode 25 (Series Episode 145) - Wouldn't it be convenient if we could tell if people who were ugly on the inside are monsters based on their appearance? In this downright iconic episode of The Twlight Zone, that's pretty much what happens. A wealthy, narcissistic family, the Fosters, holds what can only be described as the most bizarre Mardi Gras party in the history of uh, ever, while Jason Foster, the father, and head of the family, is on his death bed.
He gathers his family at his mansion - his vain daughter Paula, his sadistic son Wilfred, and his self-obsessed hypochondriac daughter Emily, and asks them to wear what can only be described as gruesome, grotesque masks as part of the celebration. One trait that all of Jason's children share is greed, and they all indulge him in wearing the masks in an effort to become the sole heir to the family fortune. They are also joined by his doctor, Dr. Sam Thorne, who is not forced to don the creepy mask, but is there to bear witness to what's about to unfold.
At first they decline, but once their father tells them that unless they wear the masks until midnight they'll be written out of the will, everyone reluctantly agrees to join in on the "festivities". Unsurprisingly, the group spends the entire time complaining, and they beg to take the masks off all throughout the night. Jason holds true to his word, and tells them that they must wear the masks until midnight, and throughout the evening, viewers get to see just the monsters that Jason's children have become.
As the clock strikes midnight, they rejoice - Jason has died after one final tirade about what a disappointment his children are, what terrible people they've become, and then he dies. Rather than mourn their father's death, his heirs rejoice that they're now rich - this is before they remove the masks, of course - and when they do, they realize that to their horror, their faces have contorted to display the ugliness they hold on the inside, on the outside.
Jason wore a mask representing death, and when removed, his doctor remarks that he looks peaceful, free from horror, and fear.
This is one of the most well known and frequently referenced episodes of The Twilight Zone, and is well-worth a watch.
- Nothing in the Dark - Season 3, Episode 16 (Series Episode 81) - Wanda, an old woman, fears nothing more than death, and so she's holed up in her basement apartment, afraid of confronting a man, "Mr. Death", she's seen lurking outside. For years he's come up with ruses to trick her out of her sanctuary, none of which have worked, until one day, a young man, Harold (played by a very young Robert Redford), is injured outside her apartment, and his cries for help finally get through to her.
She brings him into her home, and since she touched him and didn't instantly die (for you see, touching Mr. Death will kill you instantly), she's convinced that he is not in fact Mr. Death. A man knocks at the door, and despite her ignoring his knocks, he barges in, and tells her the apartment building is about to be demolished, and she needs to leave. She debates with him, and he tells her that since she's ignored all of his prior notices, if she doesn't vacate, he will call the police.
Well, it turns out that's the least of her problems, because Harold is actually Mr. Death, but he wanted to show her he meant her no harm, which is why he came up with the complicated ruse. She protests, and insists she's not ready to die, and continues to debate Mr. Death until the bitter end.
While this episode in and of itself isn't particularly terrifying, it does force the viewer to confront their own mortality, which can be its own kind of scary.
- Twenty Two - Season 2, Episode 17 (Series Episode 53) - Considered by many to be one of the scariest episodes of The Twilight Zone, "Twenty Two" has all of the full-length horror of a psychological thriller packed into a single episode. A young woman by the name of Liz Powell has checked into a hospital to be treated for fatigue, because she has been having recurring nightmares where she's in a hospital, and a creepy elevator attendant says "Room for one more, honey" to coax her into the elevator, and bring her down to the morgue.
She's terrified of this nightmare, but the doctors brush her off, and tell her not to worry - it's just a dream after all - until someone comments that there's no way that Ms. Powell could possibly know that the actual morgue in the actual hospital is in Room 22 in the hospital's basement, since she's never been there before (nor does she work for the hospital). Despite this creepy-as-hell revelation, Liz is released after being treated, although things seem quite ominous.
This one has a real twist ending, so we won't spoil that for you, but it's as scary as any thriller we've seen, which is why it's on our absolute-must-watch list.
- It's a Good Life - Season 3, Episode 8 (Series Episode 73) - One of the most unique, and highly acclaimed Twilight Zone episodes of all time (it's TIME Magazine's 3rd best Twilight Zone episode, and Buzzfeed ranks it as #1), "It's a Good Life" it's its own special kind of scary. In the fictitious town of Peaksville, Ohio, residents have no connection to the outside world. Why? Because a monster who is seemingly drunk with power, lords over the town, and won't let anyone leave. Televisions don't work, cars stop driving at the city limits, residents grow their own food, and supplies such as soap, coffee, and other common household necessities are running out.
So who is this monstrous being? Why, he's a six year old boy named Anthony Fremont who has godlike psychic powers, and has basically made the town invisible to all around it, and has trapped the residents there to live in his strange snow globe of terror. He also has the ability to read minds, so you best not go thinking anything bad about Anthony - he also has the ability to read minds.
Not even his parents can control him - they must bend to his will, lest they face some awful, sadistic fate - the entire town is essentially enslaved to Anthony, who is essentially an omnipotent sociopath. What happens when someone stands up to him? Well, nothing good - we'll say that much.
- To Serve Man - Season 3, Episode 24 (Series Episode 89) - One of the best things about The Twilight Zone are the unexpected, ironic twists that were synonymous with the series. On that front, "To Serve Man" more than delivers. In this iconic episode of The Twilight Zone, seemingly benevolent, 9 foot tall aliens - a race called "The Kanamits" visit earth, and they bring with them a promise to make the planet peaceful, end world hunger, and to serve man.
During their initial visit to earth, they leave behind a book, which the world's best decoders and cryptographers, including a Mr. Michael Chambers, and his assistant Peggy, go to town on. In the meantime, the aliens submit to a polygraph about their intentions, and after they pass, they're welcomed with open arms almost instantaneously, opening up embassies across the planet. When human volunteers visit the home planet of the Kanamits, they come back raving of the utopia, and more and more humans begin to make the pilgrimage to the alien planet.
During this time, pretty much everyone abandons the book decoding project except for Peggy, who rightfully believes that something is amiss. Just as her boss Mr. Chambers is about to board the spaceship for his trip to the Kanamits home world, Peggy cracks the code, and makes a horrifying discovery.
While the aliens never lied, their promises of a peaceful earth, and to serve man were not at all what humans had assumed them to be. The twist is particularly good in this one, so it's definitely worth a watch!
What Do You Think Is the Scariest Episode of The Twilight Zone?
Let Us Know in the Comments Below!