Catch me in the right mood and I’ll tell you that The Twilight Zone is my all-time favorite TV show. Here’s a show that’s getting awfully close to being 60 years old and its smarter than anything on today. It is just endlessly entertaining. Strike up a conversation about favorite TZ episodes with someone who isn’t even a diehard fan like I am and the chances are you’ll still have a pretty lengthy chat. That it’s an anthology series and still has so many quality, enduring episodes is truly remarkable.
Though it isn’t necessarily a horror show, the Halloween season is still a great time to watch a healthy share of Twilight Zone. Everyone knows the show has more than its fair share of creepy moments, and perhaps best of all, most TZ episodes are under a half hour and are available on several streaming services. You could just go totally random on Twilight Zone and still see a bunch of great stories, but I’m going to pick out a few of my favorite episodes that deliver the spooky goods.
To Serve Man
Let’s say a race of seemingly benevolent nine foot tall aliens came to Earth and fix all of our problems. These guys are great. They share their technology, they put an end to hunger, they end our nuclear crises. What’s not to love? They say that their home planet is a paradise. People start lining up to visit this planet. Would you go?
The Twilight Zone is known for twist endings, and this one has one of the best, along with some of the best fourth wall breaking you’ll ever watch.
Eye of the Beholder
This one is about a woman who wakes up in a hospital bed with her face completely bandages. The doctors say they’ve made one last attempt at making her look “normal.” You’ll see where this one is going a mile away, but it’s still one hell of a ride.
I used to make short films in college, and this episode inspired me to no end when I got into shooting in black and white. It’s the only television I’ve seen of the black and white era that actually makes its lack of color it’s strength. This one is my second favorite TZ episode, right behind Time Enough At Last.
I can’t help but feel that this one planted a small kernel of the idea for Halloween III. A small one, for sure, but it might be there.
On the evening of his death (Mardi Gras, nonetheless), a man invites his family over before he passes on. He’s convinced that all the family wants is their inheritance. He insists on everyone to wear masks made by an old Cajun man otherwise they will not get what’s coming to them. The masks represent what he believes to be their true nature, while his is simply a skull. To say any more would be to spoil the ending, but how all the characters wear creepy masks for a solid chunk of the episode makes it rather unsettling.
Nightmare At 20,000 Feet
“SomeTHING…is on the WING!”
Who doesn’t know about this one? You’ve got William Shatner doing some of the best “dramatic pauses” in his career. While the monster might be cheesy looking, I still don’t recommend watching this one right before your next flight.
Plus, it’s penned by Richard Matheson, the horror vet who wrote I Am Legend and Hell House.
Long before Chucky (or even Slappy for us 90s kids who grew up on Goosebumps) terrorized viewers, Twilight Zone gave us Talky Tina. It’s familiar ground, but you can’t tell me a shiver doesn’t run down your spine when you hear, “My name is Talky Tina…and I’m going to kill you.”