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
|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 and a flash of light. 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 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 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. The power outage is meant to isolate the neighborhood.
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 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. Steve tries to defuse the situation and prevent it from becoming a witch-hunt. Charlie Farnsworth pressures Steve about his building a ham radio. Steve and the other neighbors continue to argue.
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. He is dead. 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 exposing 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. 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 them to descend into paranoia and panic. 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..
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.