For all of Halloween-themed October, ComicsVerse is creating magic. By magic, we mean analyses of Halloween films, shows, music, and anything else we can find. If you want to keep posted on the newest and greatest content in this particular series, you can check it out here. Stay tuned for more ComicsVerse series coming your way, Spoopy Ghostoween and beyond! Now, let’s talk about TWILIGHT ZONE!

Welcome back to another dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A place where the only limits are man’s imagination, and the amount of hairspray in the can…

Wait, what?

THE UNSEEN HORROR brings a special treat this week. Following last week’s look at the remake of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, we examine another remake of a classic.  TV serves as the medium, as we open the door with the key of imagination, and look at the ten best episodes of the 1985 TWILIGHT ZONE revival.

The Backstory

Original creator Rod Serling sold his share of the series back to CBS years earlier, and the network decided to piggyback off the upcoming 1983 TWILIGHT ZONE film. The movie (an anthology with four segments directed by John Landis, Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante, and George Miller) failed to be the massive hit everyone wanted. CBS forged ahead anyway. The new series lasted for two primetime seasons, but like the original series neglected to be a huge ratings grab. CBS produced a final season for syndication.

The new series stood on its own merits, though. Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, and even George R.R. Martin contributed episodes, while Wes Craven directed some, and actors like Bruce Willis, Martin Landau, Danny Kaye, Helen Mirren, and Morgan Freeman starred. Such a pedigree demands good material, so let’s dive in and see some of the best.

#10. “Children’s Zoo”


We begin with an episode that is relatively simple, but heartfelt, with just enough moral for the ZONE. A young girl receives an invitation to the Children’s Zoo. Her selfish, constantly arguing parents are forced to take her. The little girl goes through the zoo alone, and we quickly see this is not a zoo of animals. Each cage contains a set of parents dropped off by their ignored and unloved children.

Wes Craven directed this episode and he crafts a likable fable. The little girl shows real intelligence, moving past parents who promise to spoil her in exchange for freedom. She paused only for a set of parents that give a heartfelt speech about their failures and the lessons they’ve learned about parenthood. The ending is obvious, but the episode works as an exercise for our inner child, and a reminder of a parent’s responsibility.

#9. “Profile in Silver”


This story dives right into sci-fi, with a time traveler in 1963. The traveler is a historian sent to chronicle the time period. The traveler holds a unique connection to the period, though — he is a descendant of John F. Kennedy and is about to observe the president’s assassination. The traveler proves unable to resist changing history, and the president survives.


The two meet, and the traveler realizes time is altering because of his actions. This fits right into the ZONE’s moralistic sci-fi, reminding of the dangers of trying to change the past, even for a good reason. Andrew Robinson (Garak from STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE 9) gives a pitch-perfect performance as Kennedy, capturing the speech and mannerisms wonderfully.

He demonstrates Kennedy’s nobility, as well, when the president is willing to accept death to preserve a brighter future. An excellent episode for historians and sci-fi fans alike.

#8 “Monsters!”


A young monster movie fan named Toby believes his elderly new neighbor is not what he seems. The old man eventually reveals that he is a vampire, but it is not the condition the boy thinks. The thirst for blood appears, but all vampire repellents (crosses, garlic, sunlight) are ineffective. However, vampires cause a genetic mutation in humans after constant exposure, and Toby is already getting sick.

The story turns the tables on horror by showing how lonely the vampire’s life is, and that he is staying simply so that he can die at the hands of the “monsters” he will create. The few normal moments of bonding he gets with the boy function as the last whispers of his humanity, and there is a true sadness to his death, along with a sense of peace. A unique entry for either iteration of the ZONE.

#7 “Ye Gods”


Fans of AMERICAN GODS will enjoy the myth based episode. An L.A. yuppie meets Cupid, who is angered the man has ignored his arrows that day. Cupid retaliates by cursing the man with unrequited love. The man, under great pain, finds Bacchus (the Roman god of wine) who informs him that Cupid is suffering from his own break up with the Fury Megara.

The man plays matchmaker between the two godly beings, in hopes of ending his own curse. The episode plays straightforwardly, but it doesn’t beat the viewer over the head with myth. The actors all do well, especially Robert Morse as the lovesick Cupid. The ZONE didn’t explore myth often, but this episode shows that it can work.

#6 “The Little People of Killany Woods”


Another simple episode, this succeeds through its charm and witty writing. A layabout in an Irish town raves about finding “the little people” in the woods. One man, tired of the layabout’s stories, threatens him to keep silent. The layabout begins to pay off his debts, though, with small oddly shaped pieces of gold. The man realizes that the layabout may be telling the truth.

As the layabout prepares to leave with the “little people,” the man tries to force him to take him, as well. However, the “little people” turn out to be something far different than what he expected. You have to watch the episode to see the twist, but it is incredibly clever and makes for an amusing episode.

#5 “A Small Talent For War”

This episode stands as one of the best of the series. An alien spacecraft hovers over the U.N., who receive the alien ambassador. The alien reveals his race had genetically created humanity but is disappointed with mankind for not realizing its potential. The alien threatens to destroy the Earth, but the delegates convince him to give them 24 hours.

The delegates work frantically over the allotted time and when the alien returns, they have achieved world peace. However, the alien had other plans in mind for humanity (sorry, you gotta watch for the twist). The episode calls to mind the original ZONE’s classic “To Serve Man” and manages to update the premise for a Cold War era. An essential watch for any trying out this series.

#4 “Dead Run”

An accident-prone trucker receives a last chance job. There’s no worry about insurance or compensation, but the “cargo” is horrifically unique — human souls, which the trucker must bring to Hell. The man has no choice but to take the job, but he realizes things as he works. Hell is extremely overcrowded and is supervised by a bureaucracy using outdated and excessively conservative standards. The trucker decides to take matters into his own hands, and give souls a chance to reach Heaven.

This episode fits well within the scope of the original ZONE and manages to both criticize and promote religion at the same time (see the trucker’s speech about Jesus comforting the damned). Sharp-eyed viewers will recognize STAR TREK’s Brent Spiner and John de Lancie, as well as the House of the Book (the building used for the exterior Command Center shots in the original POWER RANGERS).

#3 “Red Snow”


A Soviet colonel goes to a Siberian town to investigate a series of deaths. The people comprise exiles and prisoners from across the Union who are not happy to see the Colonel. He persists in investigating and uncovers a group of empty coffins in an abandoned church. The townsfolk reveal that they offer vampires from across Europe sanctuary in return for protection.  This episode is unique for many reasons.

Not that Red: Russian Representation in Comics

The Siberian setting allows for a constant night (due to Siberia’s proximity to the North pole). The colonel acts sympathetically to the people he is supposed to persecute and is aware of the problems caused by the KGB. The vampires are refugees instead of the predators they usually become. Finally, the episode paints a more human portrayal of Russians in the time of the Cold War. A haunting episode indeed.

#2 “Her Pilgrim Soul”


Two scientists work on an advanced holoprojector. One morning, they find the projector showing a human fetus. The fetus grows into a young girl, who is self-aware and gives her name as Nola. The scientists debate her existence, as the child develops at the rate of ten years a day. One scientist, experiencing marital problems, bonds with Nola.

Nola describes more details of her life, which all check out as real. However, the scientist cannot stop her aging, until she reveals her true purpose for existing. TWILIGHT ZONE rarely did romantic storylines, but this is a masterpiece. The sci-fi elements exist, but the bond between Nola and the scientist drives the episode. The ending carries enough weight to bring a tear to even the most jaded eyes. Simply a masterful story.

#1 “To See The Invisible Man”


Society decides that being cold and uncaring is a punishable crime. A convicted man receives a mark of invisibility. No one with this mark can be acknowledged in any way by the people around them for one year. The man rejoices at first, revealing in the fact he cannot be held accountable for anything he does. However, he soon begins to suffer from the lack of human contact.

The man survives the year, though, and shows what he has learned by comforting another “invisible” person. This episode relates the most to the classic ideas of THE TWILIGHT ZONE. It uses a simple premise to highlight themes of isolation and the need for human kindness. Even decades after the original TWILIGHT ZONE ended, these are themes that need to be addressed.

Final Thoughts on THE TWILIGHT ZONE (1985)

Like NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1990) the weight of the original bears down on this revival. However, while it contains some duds, the majority of episodes are successes (see below for a list of honorable mentions). The original TWILIGHT ZONE is served well by this revival, far better than the 2000s version with Forest Whitaker. Fans should enjoy this (comparatively) modern update, and return to that dimension of sight, sound, and mind.


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