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The Twilight Zone

Season 2 Episode 5

The Howling Man

Aired Unknown Nov 04, 1960 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
160 votes

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Episode Summary

A man on a walking trip of post-World War I Europe gets caught in a storm. He comes across a remote monastery with a mysterious prisoner.

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  • a bit predictable

    In the story which this is based the time is 1939 {Just prior to the outbreak of World War II}

    thus the "Howling man" has been imprisoned since 1919 {The end of World War I}

    Of course now its the maid's turn to go hunting after the howling man....
  • this episode is a classic. in my review there are spoilers. A man narrates his story of a visit to a monastary one night in europe to a hotel maid. He leaves her with the same instructions he had, but who can resist the cry of the devil.moreless

    A man narrates his story of his travles after WWI which he was forced to take refuge in a monastary because of the elements. After gathering his senses, the head of the monastary tells the man that he must leave but he convinces him that it would lead to certain death because of the weather and let's the man stay as long as he does not interfer with a "special prisoner." The man hears the prisioner howl and approaches his cell. The prisoner tells the man that the his captives are crazy and convinces him to release him from his cell. After he releases him from his cell the prisoner turns into the devil. The story he concludes as he leaves the maid and tells her not to realize the man but again she thinks that the narrator is mad.moreless
  • This is TZ at its best.

    I saw this as a kid when it was first broadcast, and I was terrified. I saw it again last week and it was still spooky. It has always been my favorite episode. Like all great TZ episodes, it makes you think and scares the beejeezus out of you at the same time.
  • "You can catch the Devil, but you can't hold him long."

    College student David Elliot takes a walking trip through central Europe (something I always wanted to do) shortly after World War I. It's pouring outside, with ferocious thunder and lightning, when he sees a hilltop with a mansion. He goes to the door seeking food and shelter (he obviously didn't prepare very well for this trip!). The house is a compound of a religious order of sorts. At first he is turned away by Brother Jerome (John Carradine), before Elliot passes out, then is told to leave again. Not exactly hospitable for a bunch of guys who claim to be "recognized by God". Anyway, Elliot hears a wolf or something howling, and discovers it is a man, locked inside a cell. The man claims that Jerome put him there because Jerome was angry that the man's girlfriend had refused his advances. When Elliot threatens to inform the authorities, Jerome tells him the truth: the "man" who is howling is "the Devil himself". Elliot pretends to believe him, but he "knows" better. He fancies himself as too "sophisticated" to believe such nonsense. He sneaks away to rescue the man, but wonders why the man wasn't able to free himself, since all he had to do was reach through the bars to lift up the cane that was that barred the door. Nevertheless, Elliot lifts it, and sees that his misguided act of compassion has unleashed the Devil and all his destruction upon the earth, much like Pandora opening the box that she was told not to open. The preceding is told in flashback. The episode opens in contemporary times, c. 1960, with Elliot telling his story to his housekeeper, and ends with him telling her he must make preparations to return the Devil, whom he has locked in a basement or cellar, to Brother Jerome, and instructs her to leave the door barred until he returns. You can figure out the rest. This episode can be seen as a lesson in believing. The story Jerome told Elliot may have seemed far-fetched, but so did the incarcerated man's story, and the man's inability to reach his arm through the bars, wide enough to accommodate his arms, should have provided a clue. When someone asks for help, ask questions. You may be enabling him to do things he should not do.moreless
  • Capturing Evil

    This is another one of my favorate episode because it makes you both think and turns your blood cold in the end. What was interesting about this story was it really took on a rather phylosophical concept.

    Everything in this tale was well constructed from the gothic castle structure, the lighting and rain with it, and that howling sound that I'll admit sends a chill down my spine everytime I hear it. These things really help give the story a forboding quality and a sense of doom.

    We see a dynamic between both Brother Jerome (play brilantly by the late John Carradine), scholar David Ellington, and the Devil inbetween. David Ellington is obviously a man grounded in reality, ethical and has little belief and faith in extitencial spiritual forces beyond him and the earth. Jermone is a man from a much different world, from his clothing and custom it looks like he was from a time long gone, where beliefs in existencial spirtiual forces are real. We see David's conversations with both the Devil and Jerome. The Devil we see is disguised as some poor sod in a cage. He gives Daivid all off his facts, his story seems believable but rather unreliable, he seems to be in the dark a lot and if you notice he seem to look a different direction with his eyes sometimes when he talks as if he isn't giving all the facts. Brother Jermome though in the story is the real one telling the truth and strangely you believe him because his voice has real conviction in what he says. David's schetisms is easy to emphise with I mean if I ever see people where the clothing and look the way Brother Jermome does I might think they could be crazy, and that's part of the point in the story.

    What we see are themes of the problem with realistic modern day thinking, how clinging to what we see, hear, and touch and completely accept it we become blind to certain other truths in life that we may be unable to see, touch, and hear but it exists all the same. As well as the phylosiphical problem with evil it is an ongoing force that conninously exists and takes many forms of destruction, despite our efforts we can only stop or slow this force down but can never fully capture or destroy it, it is a part of life that refuses to be denied.

    David's sceptism of course is his undoing and comes down to probably one of the most chilling moments in the Twilight Zone when we see a gradual transformation the devil in full form and realize from the characters eyes and physical features that David has truely released a force of evil.

    And the ending gives us chills because despite David's sucessful efforts they gain him only brief victory because we see his housekeeper also falls victim to sceptism.

    They say that the cruelist trick the Devil pulled was to say he does not exist, and then he suddenly disapeared never to be seen by the human eye.moreless
Robin Hughes

Robin Hughes

The Howling Man

Guest Star

Frederic Ledebur

Frederic Ledebur

Brother Christophorus

Guest Star

Ezelle Poule

Ezelle Poule


Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (7)

    • (Opening Narration)
      Narrator: The prostrate form of Mr. David Ellington, scholar, seeker of truth and, regrettably, finder of truth. A man who will shortly arise from his exhaustion to confront a problem that has tormented mankind since the beginning of time. A man who knocked on a door seeking sanctuary and found instead the outer edges of the Twilight Zone.

    • Ellington: I know. It's -- it's an incredible story. I, of all people, know this. And you won't believe me. No, not at first. But I'm going to tell you the whole thing. Then, you will believe, because you must. You must believe. It happened many years ago, after the First World War. I was on a walking trip through central Europe. But one night, I... One night, I got lost in a storm.

    • The Howling Man: That's the strength of the man. He makes his madness seem a harmless thing. The-the-the madness of a religious zealot. This is not a religious order, Mister Ellington. These so-called Brothers of Truth--they're outcasts, misfits, cut off from the world because the world won't have them. Mister Ellington, please, you must believe me. I don't say they're evil. I say they're mad.

    • Jerome: The Devil hath power to assume a pleasing shape. I had seen him before, in all parts of the world. In all forms and guises. Wherever there was sin. Wherever there was strife. Wherever there was corruption. And persecution. There he was also. Sometimes he was only a spectator, a face in the crowd. But, always, he was there.

    • Jerome: I'm sorry for you, my son. All your life, you will remember this night. And you'll know, Mister Ellington, whom you have turned loose upon the world.
      Ellington: I didn't believe you. I saw him and didn't recognize him.
      Jerome: That is man's weakness... and Satan's strength.

    • Ellington: It took many years but I did it. See? I have him in there now.
      You understand now. You understand why you must not under any circumstances go near that door. You see how important it is that he stay locked up? Good. I'm sending him back to Brother Jerome. He'll do a bit of howling but, heh, pay no attention to that. It's a trick. I know. Yes, I must go now. Must go. I have preparations to make. I'll be back in just a few minutes. Remember. Remember. Keep that door locked.

    • (Closing Narration)
      Narrator: Ancient folk saying: 'You can catch the Devil, but you can't hold him long.' Ask Brother Jerome. Ask David Ellington. They know, and they'll go on knowing to the end of their days and beyond--in the Twilight Zone.

  • NOTES (2)