The 7 scariest monsters that spooked us on 'The Twilight Zone"
It's been 58 years since The Twilight Zone premiered in 1959, taking us to the edge of our seats with twisting plots. Oddly enough, this rarely meant introducing us to monsters. Instead, creator Rod Serling seemed to prefer suggesting that we peer into the fragility of the human spirit itself. Episode after episode invited viewers to do just that.
Because monsters were so scarce in the Twilight Zone, it made their appearances that much more memorable. This is probably why episodes like "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" and "The Eye of the Beholder" remain some of the franchise's most iconic tales.
Here, we've collected some of the scariest monsters featured in episodes of The Twilight Zone that shook us with their nightmarish appearances and have kept our teeth chattering ever since.
Did we revive your favorite monster from the series? For those who dare, find out below!
"Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"
"Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" first aired in October 1963, and it's been giving us chills ever since, forever changing the way many people feel when they fly. Its central haunt is a furry gremlin who wreaks havoc on the wing of the plane. The beast can seemingly only been seen by the passenger Robert Wilson (William Shatner).
"The Eye of the Beholder"
Janet Tyler emerges from surgery, wrapped in bandages, in her fruitless pursuit of looking "normal." The doctors tell her their efforts have failed. When the gauze comes off, however, viewers were surprised to discover that Janet is a true beauty. It's the doctors who are different, displays a pig-nosed humanoids with droopy skin around sunken eyes. They terrified viewers and Janet alike. Perhaps it's the suspenseful trick of carefully not showing the doctors and nurses beforehand that made us take in all those details, but the shock upon first sight is as visceral today as it was for viewers originally in 1960.
The penultimate episode of The Twilight Zone tapped into familiar folklore — a pair of travellers are trapped in a cabin far from everyone when strange events begin to occur. When the couple go to investigate, they discover a giant footprint. That was scary enough, until we see what comes next: a towering 500-foot Martian! Or so they think. The episode's twist may abate your fears of giant invaders, but as longtime Twilight Zone fans know, sometimes the scariest monsters come in the smallest packages. Which brings us to the next item on our list.
Knife-wielding miniature aliens are no less terrifying than their looming counterparts, "The Invaders" set out to prove in 1961. It's one of the most aggressive episodes in The Twilight Zone canon, featuring the unrelenting force of its titular, tiny invader, and a protagonist who's under attack the entire 25 minutes, nursing her wounds while viewers developed a reverse Napoleon complex.
"The Living Doll"
Speaking of pint-sized nightmares, who can sleep tight with the memory of "Talky Tina" from "The Living Doll"? After all, she managed to take down one of TV's biggest tough guys in actor Telly Savalas, who plays the episode's tormented hero Erich Streator. As Tina's sweet doll voice issues scarier and scarier threats, the fifth season episode has one of the least hopeful finishes of any season of The Twilight Zone. The idea for Chucky and Child's Play was born here.
"Hocus-Pocus and Frisby"
Aliens are probably the most often repeated source of fear in The Twilight Zone. Among the scariest aliens from the show were the ones that came for a fibber named Mr. Frisby. His tall tales caused him to become a target for aliens who come to collect him as an exemplary specimen who represents humanity's best. In the end, Frisby escapes, but few viewers could turn off the TV set without first putting themselves in Frisby's shoes, all of us shaking in our boots aboard the alien ship.
In 1964, Rod Serling unveiled one of his masterpiece episodes in "The Masks," which succeeds in doing visually what the show had suggested figuratively for years. Here we got to see some of the most gruesome monsters in The Twilight Zone as the people in the episode grew into appropriately horrifying faces that matched their inner monstrosities.