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November 4 in Twilight Zone History: Celebrating the 1960 premiere of 'The Howling Man'

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Nov 4, 2017

Today, November 4, This Day in Twilight Zone History celebrates the 1960 premiere of "The Howling Man."

There are those who believe that much of the lasting power of The Twilight Zone came from its classic use of black-and-white photography, much of it courtesy of George T. Clemens. But there was much more to creating atmosphere on a television set with a limited budget. "The Howling Man" is one of the most atmospheric of all the Zone episodes, dramatizing the story of a man (H.M. Wynant) who arrives at a European monastery where every night he hears an unearthly howling coming from the basement dungeon.

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An American traveling in Europe (H. N. M. Wynant, right) discovers a desperate man (Robin Hughes, left) in the dungeon of a monastery, who claims he's being held against his will by delusional monks.

A long-bearded monk (John Carradine) later explains that he and his brothers are holding the actual Devil (Robin Hughes) in a cell underground. Those underground hallways, corridors, nooks and crannies are about as far away from modern American life as you can get, and that howling just penetrates your bones every time you hear it.

This is one of my Top 5 episodes, and you have to give enormous credit to the art department for creating the interior of that creepy monastery and director Jim Sheldon for maintaining a wonderful pace to this episode of episodes.

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Brother Jerome (John Carradine, left) implores a disbelieving David Ellington (H.M. Wynant, right) to ignore the howling man in the basement. 

As for the transformation scene where the Devil truly comes to life, I won't get into the details (I describe them in The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia), but suffice to say that it's unforgettable.