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 on CBS. In 2009, TIME named it one of the ten best Twilight Zone episodes.
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 are slightly alarmed by this, but they carry on with their activities. Shortly afterwards, the residents discover that their power went off, affecting stoves, lawn mowers, cars and phones. They gather in the street to discuss the situation. Pete Van Horn volunteers to walk over to Floral Street, the next street over, to see if it is affected as well. His neighbor, Steve Brand decides to go into town, but Tommy, a local boy, urges him not to leave the street. Tommy has read a story of an alien invasion causing similar controversy, and says that the monsters do not want anyone to leave the street. Furthermore, in the story, the aliens are living as a family that appears to be human. The power outage is meant to isolate the neighborhood.
At first, Tommy's theory is laughed off, until another resident, Les Goodman, tries unsuccessfully to start his car. He gets out and begins to walk back in the direction of the other residents when the car starts on its own. The bizarre behavior of his car makes the neighbors suspect that Les may be an alien, as suggested by Tommy's story. One woman brings up his late nights spent standing in the garden looking up at the sky. Les, defending himself, claims to be an insomniac. As he steps from his porch, his neighbors nervously back away to avoid him. Steve, acting as the voice of reason, tries to defuse the situation and prevent it from becoming a witch-hunt. Charlie Farnsworth pressures Steve about his hobby building a secret ham radio. Steve argues that the whole idea of anyone on the street being an alien is madness.
Darkness descends and a shadowy figure is seen walking toward them. Charlie panics, grabs a shotgun, and shoots the figure, thinking it to be an alien. When the crowd reaches the fallen figure, they realize it is Pete van Horn, returning from his scouting mission on Floral Street, instantly killed from the shot. As Charlie struggles to defend his hasty action, the neighbors voice suspicions that Pete had discovered evidence that Charlie is an alien, and Charlie shot Pete to prevent him from fingering him. The lights in Charlie's house come on, further fueling their suspicion, and even Steve is too angered by Pete's death to defend Charlie. Charlie makes a run for his house while the other residents chase him and hurl stones, one of which hits him in the forehead, creating a bleeding gash. Terrified, Charlie attempts to deflect suspicion onto Tommy. Several neighbors agree, as Tommy was the only one who knew about the aliens' plans.
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, hurling accusations, smashing windows and taking up weapons as the situation devolves into an all-out riot.
The scene cuts to a nearby hilltop, where it is revealed the shadow that flew overhead is, indeed, an alien spaceship. Its occupants are watching the riot on Maple Street while using a device to manipulate the neighborhood's power. They comment on how simply fiddling with people's electricity consistently leads them to descend into paranoia and panic and how simple minded they are for doing so. They also discuss their intention to use this strategy to conquer Earth one neighborhood at a time.
|“||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.||”|
- Claude Akins as Steve Brand
- Barry Atwater as Les Goodman
- Jack Weston as Charlie Farnsworth
- Burt Metcalfe as Don Martin
- Jan Handzlik as Tommy
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".) 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.