The 10 Scariest Monsters of ‘The Twilight Zone’
In 1959, television legend Rod Serling submitted for the audience’s approval a television show which was unlike anything else on the tube at the time and would influence the entire television medium for decades to come, The Twilight Zone. For five seasons viewers were terrified by a menagerie of monsters and villains which not only gave them nightmares but also gave them things to think about. Often eschewing the stuntmen in outlandish costumes of the other genre shows of the time, Serling and company created creatures who were all too familiar to many viewers. In honor of this groundbreaking show, let’s take a look at the most frightening creations who inhabit the realm of TV, with the 10 scariest monster of The Twilight Zone.
1. Anthony (It’s a Good Life): We all know that spoiled children who are given everything they want, often turn out to be soulless brats; and in a small town in what used to be Ohio a boy named Anthony is the very personification of this. A seemingly innocent child who has the power to bend reality to his will and holds the people in his village hostage. Without a shred of mercy, Anthony rules without question over those too afraid to stand up to him, and those who are brave enough to do something end up in the cornfield. Played to chilling perfection by famed child actor Billy Mumy, Anthony has become one of the most memorable characters of the entire series.
2. Captain Lutz (Death’s Head Revisited): No other group in recent history has come closer to pure evil than the Nazis, a collective of barbaric monsters who preyed on those they viewed as inferiors. In the Twilight Zone, one such villain, Captain Lutz, came back to the infamous Dachau concentration camp, where he sadistically tormented the unfortunate prisoners, in order to enjoy the grim nostalgia of it all. His vacation down memory lane is cut short as those who died under his rule return from beyond the grave to get the justice they were denied in life. Lutz is especially terrifying due to the fact that he resembles so many real life monsters who walk this earth.
3. The Gremlin (Nightmare at 20,000 Feet): Even those who have never seen a single episode of The Twilight Zone are familiar with the iconic scene from the series, when William Shatner opens the blinds on the plane only to see the sharp eyes of a gremlin staring back at him. In a tale written by science fiction/horror legend, Richard Matheson, William Shatner plays a troubled man on a flight home, he finds relaxation impossible as a gremlin torments him just outside his window tearing apart the wing of the plane. He is powerless to do anything as he is the only passenger who sees the creature. For the entire suspenseful episode we are left to wonder if their really is a gremlin or if it is all just in his head, that is until the chilling end.
4. Fats (A Nice Place to Visit): When a low level thug named Rocky dies he is shocked to discover a nice penthouse and all manner of luxury waiting from him on the other side, including a seemingly benign butler of sorts he dubs, Fats. Fats ensures that Rocky’s afterlife is filled with; money, women, and booze, making sure the crook is confused as to what he did to deserve such a rewarding eternity. But as the show so often did in brilliant fashion, the rug is pulled out from the viewer as Fats’ true nature is revealed and challenges many long held beliefs about what lies beyond this life.
5. Kanamit (To Serve Man): How would humanity react if a race of tall and lanky extraterrestrials landed on our planet with promises to end all war, hunger, and strife. In one of the most popular and acclaimed episodes of The Twilight Zone, the race known as the Kanamit do just that, and everyone except for a couple of United Nations decoders curious about a book, is more than willing to go along with it. As time passes and an age of peace and prosperity sets in, the human race is given the opportunity to travel to the planet of the Kanamit, leading to one of the most famous lines in television history.
6. The Doctors (Eye of the Beholder): A woman, her face wrapped in bandages, waits impatiently for the doctors to remove the coverings and let her see. Once her wish is granted the beautiful woman lets out a shriek as she, and the audience, lay eyes on the horrific physicians who have been helping her. What follows is a tense chase throughout the hospital as she seemingly tries to escape these monsters. In the end we are treated to a climax which challenges our preconceived notions of physical beauty in a way that only The Twilight Zone can do.
7. The Invaders (The Invaders): Legendary actress Agnes Moorehead, takes a trip to The Twilight Zone as a lonely woman in a cottage who is attacked by a group of tiny invaders. Throughout the course of the terrifying night the woman is pursued throughout her home by these pint sized attackers and their strangely advanced weaponry. In the end she is successful and in a twist, which is still as relevant today as it was then, the viewer is taken aback and forced to reflect on who are the good guys and who are the bad guys in a way they never have before.
8. The Monsters (The Monsters are Due on Maple Street): On an ordinary street in suburbia a flying saucer flies overhead turning a relaxing afternoon a descent to madness. The bizarre aircraft has seemingly shut down all of the mechanical and electric devices on Maple Street, forcing the facade of friendliness they have long held towards each other to fall apart as paranoia and violence take hold. In a very profound episode, we learn that even though a spaceship piloted by alien creatures is there, the real monsters are not who we expected.
9. The Foster Family (The Masks): In the city of New Orleans a wealthy man is dying and his ungrateful obnoxious family shows up to get their hands on his money. But the patriarch of the Foster family has a bizarre challenge for his family and forces them to wear masks which represent their worst traits so that all can see their inner ugliness on the outside. In order to gain his wealth they must parade around in these masks for the remainder of the night. Once they outlive the dying man they are horrified to discover that the masks they donned for him have disfigured their actual faces forever transforming them into the monsters they always were to begin with.
10. The Devil (The Howling Man): In this episode a seemingly half crazed man recounts a tale to his housekeeper of his trek into the mountains as a younger man. In his youth he stumbled upon a religious order in a gothic castle which would be at home in a Universal Monsters film, the sound of animalistic howling filled the cavernous halls on a regular basis. The claim the elderly man, in the castle, Brother Jerome, makes seems far fetched both to the traveler as well as the viewing audience, claiming that the man he has imprisoned in the castle is the Devil himself. What we discover instead of the expected red skinned creature with cloven hooves is a poor man trapped in a cell courtesy of this bizarre group. Believing that he is doing the right thing, the traveler opens the cell only to discover to his dismay that the old man was right and he has been tricked into releasing the Prince of Darkness into the world once again. We have all heard the old adage about the Devil’s greatest tricking is convincing us he does not exist, and with this episode the Zone has given audience a fresh spin on this particular bit of wisdom.