The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street
|"The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
Lea Waggner and Barry Atwater
|Episode no.||Season 1
|Directed by||Ronald Winston|
|Written by||Rod Serling|
|Original air date||March 4, 1960|
The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street is episode 22 in the first season of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. The episode was written by Rod Serling, the creator-narrator of the series. It originally aired on March 4, 1960. In 2009, TIME named it one of the ten best Twilight Zone episodes.
|“||Maple Street, U.S.A. Late summer. A tree-lined little world of front porch gliders, barbecues, the laughter of children and the bell of an ice cream vendor. At the sound of the roar and the flash of light, it will be precisely 6:43 p.m. on Maple Street. This is Maple Street on a late Saturday afternoon. Maple Street — in the last calm and reflective moment — before the monsters came.||”|
Maple Street is full of playing children and adults talking, when a shadow passes over, accompanied by a roar and a flash of light. Several adults notice, but there is no alarm. However, the residents soon discover that their power has been cut, affecting stoves, lawn mowers, phones. They gather together in the street to discuss the matter. Pete van Horn volunteers to walk out of the neighborhood to discover the extent of the problem and he goes to check the gas station. His neighbor, Steve Brand (Claude Akins), wants to go into town, but Tommy (Jan Handzlik), an irritating local boy who catalyzes the situation, urges him not to leave the street. Tommy has read a story of an alien invasion causing similar phenomena, and says the monsters don't want anyone to leave the street. Furthermore, in the story, the aliens are living as a family that appears human. The power outage is meant to isolate and contain the neighborhood.
Meanwhile, another resident, Les Goodman, tries unsuccessfully to start his car. He gets out and begins to walk back to the other residents when the car starts on its own. The bizarre behavior of his car makes Les the object of immediate suspicion. One woman begins to discuss his late nights spent standing in the garden looking up at the sky. Les (Barry Atwater) claims to be only an insomniac. Later that night, Steve, acting as the voice of reason, tries to defuse the situation and prevent it from becoming a witch-hunt. Les warns that the others are creating "something" ugly that they will not be able to control. Charlie Farnsworth (Jack Weston), one of the loudest and most aggressive residents, pressures Steve about his hobby building a radio no one has ever seen. Suspicion falls on Steve as he sarcastically remarks that he talks to monsters from outer space on his radio. Steve and the other neighbors continue to argue.
Panic builds as darkness descends and a shadowy figure is seen walking toward them. Charlie, now hostile, grabs a shotgun and immediately shoots the shadow, thinking it to be the alleged "monster". When the crowd reaches the fallen figure, they realize it is Pete van Horn, returning from his scouting mission. The shot had hit him in the chest, killing him instantly. Although Charlie insists that he did not know, and was trying to protect everyone, no one believes him.
Suddenly, the lights in Charlie's house come on and he panics as the crowd begins accusing him of being both a murderer and the monster responsible for the power being out, and even Steve can't defend Charlie, or what he has done. Charlie makes a run for his house while the other residents chase him, throwing stones, one of them hitting Charlie in the temple, creating a bleeding gash. Terrified, Charlie attempts to deflect suspicion onto Tommy, the boy who had originally suggested alien infiltration. Several neighbors agree, as Tommy was the only one who knew about the aliens' plan.
Lights begin flashing on and off in houses throughout the neighborhood; lawn mower and car engines start and stop for no apparent reason. The mob becomes hysterical, with terrified residents smashing windows and taking up weapons as the situation devolves into an all-out riot. Some residents take up firearms and start shooting at anyone they can.
The scene cuts to a nearby hilltop, where it is revealed the mysterious meteor that had flown overhead is, indeed, an alien spaceship. Its inhabitants, two alien but humanoid observers, are watching the riot on Maple Street while using a device to manipulate the neighborhood's power. They comment on how easy it was to create paranoia and panic by turning off the electricity, and conclude that the easiest way to conquer the planet is to let the people become their own worst enemies. They also discuss the fact that there are many, many more Maple Streets on Earth.
|“||The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices — to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill — and suspicion can destroy — and a thoughtless frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own — for the children — and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is — that these things cannot be confined — to the Twilight Zone..||”|
The aliens are wearing uniforms left over from the 1956 science fiction film Forbidden Planet. Also, the mockup set of the retractable stairway, leading into the lower half of the C-57D cruiser from the same film, is reused for this scene. At the end of the episode, a stock footage effects shot of the cruiser in space can be seen. (The same shot was also used in "Third from the Sun".) Note that the cruiser is shown upside down when compared to its orientation in Forbidden Planet.
A 2003 remake of the episode was created in the latest re-adaptation of The Twilight Zone, but it was renamed "The Monsters Are On Maple Street" which starred Andrew McCarthy as Will Marshall and Titus Welliver as Dylan. The difference between the two is that the remake is more about the fear of terrorism. When the power surge happens in the remake, it is caused, not by aliens, but instead by the government, specifically the United States Army, experimenting on how small towns react to the fear of terrorism. In the end, the neighborhood takes out its anger and frustration on a family who never left their house after the power surge occurred, thinking that they caused it since they still have power.
A radio dramatization of this episode was produced in the mid-2000s as part of The Twilight Zone radio series, starring Frank John Hughes as Steve Brand. It was included in The Twilight Zone: Radio Dramas – Collection 12 collection.
A graphic novel version was published by the Savannah College of Art and Design partnered with Walker & Co. A short story version was published in Stories from The Twilight Zone and ends with a race of two-headed aliens moving into Maple Street. This episode served to be a major influence on science fiction in the decades that followed. Among the films that drew their inspiration from this episode include The Trigger Effect, directed by David Koepp, and The Mist.
Early industrial music band Skinny Puppy made heavy use of samples from this episode in the track Monster Radio Man on their album Back and Forth Series 2. In the supernatural TV series Angel episode, "Are You Now or Have You Ever Been", the main protagonist, Angel, is mobbed, in a similar way to the characters in this episode, while under the influence of a paranoia demon controlling a hotel. Executive producer David Greenwalt admitted he got the idea and way of being mobbed after watching this episode.
- "Top 10 Twilight Zone episodes". TIME. 2009-10-05. Retrieved 2009-10-09.
- Maslin, Janet (1996-08-30). "Movie Review - The Trigger Effect (1996) - Urban Jitters Going Critical". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-10-09.
- Edward Douglas (2007-11-16). "An Exclusive Interview with Mr. Frank Darabont!". ShockTillYouDrop.com. Retrieved 2009-10-09.
- DeVoe, Bill (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, Georgia: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-136-0.
- Grams, Martin (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, Marytland: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9703310-9-0.
- "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" at the Internet Movie Database
- TV.com episode page
- "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" – script