The Twilight Zone

Season 2 Episode 5

The Howling Man

Aired Unknown Nov 04, 1960 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (4)

Write A Review
out of 10
172 votes
  • "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.