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Twilight Zone: The Howling Man (1960)

Reviewed by Geno McGahee

I had to see this episode for a few reasons.  Mostly because my friend Crazy Carl Robinson recommended it, making his top 10, but there is the cool storyline.  Monks have a man imprisoned that they claim to be the devil.  The title of the episode is “The Howling Man” and it refers to the prisoner howling, which is not uncommon with inmates, especially the newbies.  They usually get them in the prison shower…a whole bunch of them.  They call it a “train” I think.  As far as I know the monks do not run a train on the Howling Man, but then again, I never saw the “uncut” version of this one.  Maybe they did. 

We begin with David Ellington (H.M. Wyant) stumbling through a horrible thunderstorm and discovers a castle with a bunch of weird dudes with beards and big staffs.  Ellington is really impressed with their big staffs.  Their beards, not so much.   

The monks are very apprehensive about allowing Ellington to remain in the castle, but the storm is bad enough to merit it.  Ellington is curious about the howling that he is hearing, but when you get a bunch of guys in robes hanging out, you will hear a lot of moaning and howling.  So I’m sure that Ellington was probably just assuming that there was some Brokeback Twilight Zone action going on.  That’s what I would assume.   

Ellington lets his curiosity get the best of him and visits the man that is making all that noise and he has quite the story.  The Howling Man (Robin Hughes) states that he was kidnapped by Brother Jerome (John Carradine) because of a common love interest.  His story is compelling and believable…much more believable than Brother Jerome’s.  Jerome claims that he and his bunch of bearded boyfriends have captured the devil, but Ellington does not buy it.  He feels that the Howling Man’s story is the true one and is now going to release him. 

Is it the devil?  Is it Brother Jerome’s prison fantasy?  Well, I won’t spill the beans, but the ending is really neat and it really addresses those people that have dismissed religion as a fairy tale but want to believe in it nonetheless. That is Ellington…and although he wanted to believe in the God story, he couldn’t accept it over what he considered to be reality. Rod Serling really knows how to challenge people and what they believe and that is a great part of this episode.  He steers the viewer into the position of: what would they do, if they were Ellington.  I would have let the dude go, personally.  I can’t go to my grave knowing that I allowed a man to be raped by monks. 

The Howling Man is a very decent Twilight Zone episode…not that there are any really bad ones, and I do recommend it.  Crazy Carl was right.  This was pretty darn good. 

Ringside Report Rating: 8/10

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