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Sunday, January 15, 2006

1.36 --- Monsters !

Directed by : B.W.L. Norton
Written by : Robert Crais
Starring : Ralph Bellamy, Oliver Robins
First aired : 24th of January, 1986.

Toby (Oliver Robins, Poltergeist), a young boy obsessed with horror movies and literature, is gutted when his longtime neighbour Paulie moves out. In his place, an elderly fellow (Ralph Bellamy, Rosemary's Baby, Trading Places) moves in, who upon meeting Toby tells him that he's a vampire.

Toby, of course, doesn't believe him, but when later spies him lifting his car with one hand, he is certain that he does belong to the undead. The man, whose name is Emile Francis Bendictson, reassures him that he means him no harm, and that he is back in this place to die. He takes Toby out for a pizza, and they just seem to get along good.

Things get strange when everybody in the same town starts developing a strain of flu. Toby is another victim, just like everybody else, which doesn't stop mr. Bendictson to take him out for a little walk in the middle of the night. As they enter the cemetery, Bendictson shows Toby his own grave, clearly showing he's dead for the past 100 years or so. Bendictson explains that the undead can die themselves, and that they will all soon find out. Before he leaves, he shows Toby a pretty sight - he stirs the bushes around the gravestones, and they lit up with fireflies.

Back home, Toby is sitting in the couch with his family - all of them pretty sick. When Toby's mom receives the news from the neighbourhood everybody else is gravely ill, bad comes to worse - all of a sudden, everybody starts transforming into hideous monsters ! With their metamorphosis complete, the monsters head out to mr. Bendictson's house, who is clearly expecting them.

The next morning, police is at hand - mr. Bendictson has been brutally murdered, and everybody is in shock. Nobody realizes it was "them" who sealed old man's fate, and Toby is able to remember only one thing - the fireflies. He takes his dad to the cemetery to show him, but after a cold breeze passes by and Toby's dad sneezes, Toby is very startled...


Eh ?

I'm not gonna waste too much words here - I didn't understand a lick of this one. What is the essence of this story ? Vampires exist, and humans have a built-in mean streak which vanquishes them ? Maybe there is more to be understood if you read Mark Twain, which Bendictson fervently recommends to Toby. Alas, last time I read Tom Sawyer was in primary school, so I can't be of much help.

It would be unfair to dog this one purely because I'm too disadvantaged to understand it at the moment, though. Bellamy and Robins fit great together, and the episode delivers a few subtle "boo" scares, along with some creepy atmosphere. Just, I would really like it if someone explained it to me in full.

Horror trivia : when Toby's dad warns Toby to "keep watching the skies", he's quoting a line from Howard Hawks's sci-fi classic, The Thing from Another World.

Comments on "1.36 --- Monsters !"


Anonymous John said ... (6:20 PM) : 

I am surprised you did not like this one! It has always been one of my favorite New TZs!

Now, I am not going to pretend that I understand it completely, or that I could explain it, I just really like it. I guess Bellamy and the kid, as you said, work well together.

The ending with the fireflies and the sneeze - I don't know, it was great!


Blogger Mairosu said ... (6:39 PM) : 

It's not I didn't like it...it's just...um, I don't know what to think of it, that's all.

Any clues on the Twain thing ?


Anonymous chogokinman said ... (10:17 AM) : 

As you Mairosu, i didn't understand the general linup of this story.

Une histoire moderne de monstre trop cérébrale et pas assez démonstrative : un épisode moyen

Ma note : 3/5


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:18 PM) : 

I did always like this particular episode.
What you have missed however is 2 things that explain the whole story.

The old guy explains to the kid that vampires can never stay in one place for very long as creatures turn up and attack them. Sort of natures way of stopping them from decimating one area.

He also mentions that you don't have to bite someone for them to change into a vampire.

The point of this story is that Humans have a built in mechanism to keep vampires moving on, {the sneezing etc}, where they all turn into monsters if the vampire stays in the one place for long enough. When his mother sneezes at the end, we aren't sure if Toby has just become a vampire, and this is the first of the whole process of people become monsters, or if its just a cold....


Blogger Mairosu said ... (5:54 PM) : 

That explains a lot. Thanks for your insight.


Blogger Jihan said ... (6:02 PM) : 

That's how I understood it as well. In the graveyard scene, the old man pulls the boy up to him and the boy starts sneezing. The old man tells him that that's humans' way of protecting themselves from the vampires (i.e. genetics). The people in the town all had this gene in them as well and they started having alergic reactions once a vampire was amongst them. And that's why vampires cannot stay in one place for very long. At the end you see the dad sneezing even when Mr. Bendictson is no more. This could mean only one thing. (At least it is alluded) that there is still a vampire at large amidst them. Maybe another vampire other than Mr. Bendictson? Maybe the boy is the new vampire?


Blogger Rosi said ... (12:59 AM) : 

Come on, this was the first episode of the 80's Twilight Zone that had any resemblance to the old classic ones (my favorites). Has an unexpected twist in the end, you are left hanging, you don't know if the boy is a vampire, if there is still another vampire in town or if the dad just sneezes because of the firefly and the sudden wind. Loved it!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:22 AM) : 

This episode was pure, great, vintage Twilight Zone at its best, with a charming twist -- the brief friendship between Bellamy and the boy.

Wow, 1986, that was over twenty years ago! If memory serves correct, Bellamy explained to the boy that after he was dead, everyone would soon forget about him -- and their transformation into monsters -- as part of the defense mechanism. And he shows the boy the wonderous sight of the fireflies, to later help rekindle a vague bitter-sweet memory of him to the boy. The boy along with everyone else forgets about Bellamy later, but the boy subconsciously remembers to agitate the tall weeds with a stick as Bellamy showed him to release the fireflies -- a subtle suggestion that the good things, like friendship, never die.

I took this episode to mean that unless all people had some sort of monster within them, individualized monsters such as vampires wouldn't exist.

And the sneeze at the end? Doo-doo-doo-doo, Doo-doo-doo-doo!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:07 AM) : 

I always assumed that the by showing the boy the fireflies, the boy had become infected. Hence the father sneezing. I always assumed that in time people would begin to sneeze when the father was around.
Then again, I was around the age of the kid the last time I saw this, so... =D
Going to look about and see if I can find an this episode online and rewatch it. =D It's one fo my favorite TV Episodes of my youth along with the Ghost Train and The Shadow Man.


Anonymous AK said ... (2:24 PM) : 

I remember this one also from childhood, however I used to watch these as reruns in the 90's as I was too young in the 80's.
It still sticks in my mind alongside some other episodes due to the ending...
I agree with some earlier postings about the allergy being a natural safeguard to keep a vampire moving and in effect provide a 'natural balance' of sorts...
But the ending always creeps me out. I watched it again recently and I am convinced the kid is becoming whatever the Ralph Bellamy character was. Of course the sneeze subtly suggests it, but this time something Bellamy had said stuck out. When he shows the kid the fireflies, he tells him he wants him to have this one nice memory before life weighs him down with burdens - as if he knows the kid is destined to the same fate and he is in effect 'preparing him'. I may be exaggerating, but the more I think about this the more I am convinced... Thoughts?


Anonymous Adrock said ... (6:18 AM) : 

Yeah, this was just... not a good one. The initial premise is awesome -- a boy with an ancyclopedic knowledge of monster movies, befriends a monster. And, great cast, the boy from Poltergeist and then Ralph Bellamy.

But nothing else makes sense after that. I don't like episodes with decoy happy endings -- that Ray Bradbury adaptation (Burning Man?) suffered from the same problems. At the end you think there's a heart-warming moment between father and son in the graveyard... and then we're led to believe the kid has become a vampire and is eventually gonna meet a horrible end.

Yeah. No thanks.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:17 PM) : 

1/10 on the Fap Scale.


Blogger MrSinatra said ... (1:28 AM) : 

I am completely perplexed at how anyone could be confused by this ep. It actually addresses something in a very thoughtful way...

If vampires did exist, eventually they would wipe out humans. So Mother Nature, via genetics, created a mutation, that clearly turns some humans into werewolf like creatures, to control the vampire population. Quite logical imo. These are the monsters worse than anything, that Bellamy speaks about.

I love seeing him in stuff. But still, the ep doesn't really have a great twist, basically just a solid silver.


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