It’s a tradition for the SyFy channel to air a marathon of The Twilight Zone every New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. I thought, what better time to countdown my own favorite episodes of Rod Serling’s classic show. I imagine some may be surprised by my picks. Most of my favorite episodes fall into the psychological horror category, and they’re not necessarily the most popular of episodes. However, these are the ones that I believe are the most bone-chilling, the most unsettling. Bottom line, these are the episodes that give me the creeps. Enjoy!
5. The Hitch-Hiker
I love driving alone in the middle of nowhere. There’s this feeling that anything could happen at any time. It feels a little dangerous, and a tad thrilling. Add in a mysterious stranger lurking on the side of a desolate highway, and you’ve got yourself a situation that is ripe with horror potential. The Hitch-Hiker isn’t especially groundbreaking with its plot twist. However the setting and imagery is darkly poetic, and the lead character’s terror is palpable.
4. The Masks
I think I love this episode so much, because I just love masks. Masks fall into that wonderfully wacky territory of the uncanny. A mask is an expression of our inner selves. It’s us in the most wild, expressionist way. At the same time, masks are used to hide identity and shield the truth that’s beneath. All of this symbolism, is at the heart of this episode. Let’s just say our protagonist gets his revenge, in the best way possible.
3. Perchance to Dream
Dreams are one of the most bizarre, confusing parts of life. There’s so much that we don’t know yet about dreams, so it makes sense that The Twilight Zone would want to tackle this topic. In Perchance to Dream, a horrified man is driven to seek therapy, after a series of dreams in which a beautiful woman is trying to kill him. Unfortunately for him, his dreams are bleeding over into his waking life. This is a super surreal episode, complete with a scene at a carnival. Picture Freddy Krueger as a sexy lady, and you’ve got Perchance to Dream.
2. The After Hours
I like The After Hours so much that I based my short film, Plastic Bodies on it. There’s something undeniably frightening about mannequins. Mannequins are human, yet not human. They are crude representations of us composed of hollow artificial materials, and disguised in the latest fashions. Now imagine these uncanny monsters were after you. Imagine, that the world as you know it, is not the true reality. That’s what our heroine is up against. This is a theme that The Twilight Zone covered many times, but never with as much finesse as in The After Hours.
1. Mirror Image
I’ve always had a fascination with dopplegangers. There’s something petrifying about the notion that there’s a sinister double of you wandering around. When I was a child, I had a dream about my doppleganger, and it still freaks me out today. In Mirror Image, the protagonist must come to terms with the possibility that she has a look-alike wandering around, or she’s losing her grip on reality. Perhaps the worst enemy you can have, is yourself?