The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street
"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.
|"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|
|“||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 children playing and adults talking when a shadow passes over, accompanied by a roar, a flash of light, along with falling stars. They originally assume that it is a meteor. The residents soon 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, hammer slung in his bib overalls, volunteers to walk over to Floral Street, the next street over, to see if it is affected as well. His neighbors, Steve Brand and Charlie Farnsworth, decide 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 issues, 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, who are actually scouts. The power outage is meant to isolate the neighborhood. The adults are incredulous, assuring him that the cause is natural, such as sunspots. Charlie wonders if Pete Van Horne was successful in making it to Floral Street.
Another resident, Les Goodman, tries unsuccessfully to pet his dog. He begins to walk back to the other residents when the dog attacks him. The bizarre behavior of his dog makes the neighbors suspect that Les may be an alien, as suggested by Tommy's story. Charlie says Les had always been an oddball, and suggests they go over and investigate, while Steve asks them to be calm and not allow mob rule to take over. One woman brings up his late nights spent standing in the garden looking up at the sky, as if waiting, or looking for something. Les, defending himself as a resident of Maple Street for 5 years, claims to suffer from insomnia, admonishes his neighbors that they should take caution and to not allow panic or act rashly. Steve tries to defuse the situation and prevent it from becoming a witch-hunt.
As darkness descends, Charlie begins keeping watch over Les Goodman's house. Steve suggests Charlie go home and go to bed. Another neighbor, Don, mention that Steve has built a ham radio, which Charlie then claims no one has ever seen. Steve and the other neighbors continue to argue, using each person's idiosyncrasies as evidence that they are an alien. Steve warns that such behavior, looking for a scapegoat, is the surest way for the entire neighborhood to "eat each other alive".
A shadowy figure carrying a hammer is seen walking toward them. Tommy exclaims that it is the monster. 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. He is dead. As Charlie struggles to defend his hasty action, the lights in Charlie's house come on. The neighbors voice suspicions that Pete had discovered evidence that Charlie is an alien, and Charlie shot Pete to prevent him from exposing him, 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. A hurled stone hits Charlie in the head, 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 crew are watching the riot on Maple Street while using a device to manipulate the neighborhood's power. They comment on how simply fiddling with consistency leads people to descend into paranoia and panic, and that this is a pattern that can be exploited. 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.||”|
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".) This technique was also used in "To Serve Man". The cruiser is shown upside down when compared to its orientation in Forbidden Planet.
|"The Monsters Are on Maple Street"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 1|
|Directed by||Debbie Allen|
|Written by||Rod Serling|
|Original air date||February 19, 2003|
A 2003 remake of the episode was produced for the 2002 revival of The Twilight Zone, but it was renamed "The Monsters Are On Maple Street". It 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.
The opening and closing narration, provided by Forest Whitaker, has also been altered:
|“||Maple Street, U.S.A. Suburban community on a pleasant Saturday afternoon... but in a few moments everything will change for the residents of Maple Street as they discover that the monsters they fear may already be among them.||”|
|“||It isn't enough for a sole voice of reason to exist. In this time of uncertainty we are so sure that villains lurk around every corner that we will create them ourselves if we can't find them – for while fear may keep us vigilant, it's also fear that tears us apart – a fear that sadly exists only too often – outside the Twilight Zone.||”|
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.
- Cruz, Gilbert (October 2, 2009). "Top 10 Twilight Zone episodes". TIME. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
- Maslin, Janet (August 30, 1996). "Movie Review - The Trigger Effect (1996) - Urban Jitters Going Critical". The New York Times.
- Edward Douglas (November 16, 2007). "An Exclusive Interview with Mr. Frank Darabont!". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved September 24, 2018.