It’s A Good Life: Twilight Zone (1961)

You’re a very bad man. And you keep thinking bad thoughts about me…You mustn’t think bad thoughts or I’ll do the same thing to you.

It’s Friday and time for our TV episode review. For those who are new to Horrofest, a while back I decided to add TV episodes to my 31 Horror reviews and as much as I like the hashtag #tvtuesday I really prefer reviewing them on Friday. So every Friday of the month we will have a creepy or spooky TV episode.

I originally wanted to start the first Friday off with a Jane Austen connection, but I still need to edit that review so we are moving some things around and have a review of one of the absolute best Twilight Zone episodes out there. The way that it is paced, the villain, the imagery, etc. This episode used to freak me out as a child but sent a good kind of shivers up and down my spine.

Creepy…

So for those of you who have never seen it, The Twilight Zone was a TV series that ran from 1959-1964. Every episode was its unique story and they all had to do with the supernatural unusual, strange, alien, etc. It was a great show.

At the beginning of every episode, Rod Serling would do an introduction, and at the end wrap it up with a concluding thought or moral.

It was a fantastic show, and Rod Serling actually wrote most of seasons 1-3, leveling off on seasons 4-5.

The episode is based off of a 1953 short story “It’s a Good Life” by Jerome Bixby and comes from season three (it’s episode eight).

Our story begins in the middle of nowhere, all that is left is a town. The town doesn’t know if the rest of the world disappeared or if the town was removed to somewhere else. All they know is that the only inhabitants can’t leave and it is all because of one person; six-year old Anthony Fremont.

“They have to think happy thoughts and say happy things because once displeased, the monster can wish them into a cornfield or change them into a grotesque, walking horror. This particular monster can read minds, you see. He knows every thought, he can feel every emotion. Oh yes, I did forget something, didn’t I? I forgot to introduce you to the monster. This is the monster. His name is Anthony Fremont. He’s six years old, with a cute little-boy face and blue, guileless eyes. But when those eyes look at you, you’d better start thinking happy thoughts, because the mind behind them is absolutely in charge. This is the Twilight Zone.”

-Rod Serling

Anthony is a child with godlike powers and he can read minds. He is incredibly scary as he is an emotional child who has no real concept of right and wrong and no one can tell him different or else they will wind up dead.

Everything is dwindling, no technology is possible (Anthony won’t let it), and all the people live in constant fear they will upset Anthony, although they try very hard to hide it. Some of the best scene are when they interact with him, as you can see everyone is terrified but trying so to believe what they are saying; “it’s sure good…” in fact The word “good” is repeated 46 times in this episode.

Anthony is a bit lonely and his dad tries to explain why the kids won’t hang out with him, while trying not to upset him. Either Anthony upset the kids by creating monsters he kills and sends to the cornfield; or he does something to the children.

Mr. Fremont: Well, Anthony, you remember the last time some kids came over to play. The little Fredricks boy and his sister.

Anthony Fremont: I had a real good time.

Mr. Fremont: Oh, sure you did, you had a real good time, and it’s good that you had a good time, it’s real good. It’s, uh, just that…

Anthony Fremont: Just that what?

Mr. Fremont: Well, Anthony, you, uh, you wished them away into the cornfield. Their mommy and daddy were real upset.

It’s A Good Life

Every week, Anthony allows one hour of television, but only something he wants to see. Everything comes to a head after the show, when they have a party for one of his parents friends: Dan Hollis.

Birthdays are difficult to hold as gifts are hard to come by and Anthony doesn’t allow any music or singing in the town. Hollis receives two gifts from everyone, a bottle of brandy and a Perry Como record. Hollis wants to listen to the record of his favorite artists, something he desperately misses, but everyone warns him not to. Anthony doesn’t like music.

Hollis starts drinking instead and not only gets drunk, but bold. Hollis sings happy birthday to himself and tired of always pretending snaps. He yells at the group and tells them they should take Anthony out now when they have the chance to.

You see where everyone looks, but all are too afraid. Only Aunt Amy touches the fireplace poker, however she too doesn’t try, also being too scared to take on Anthony.

Anthony gets mad, real mad and turns Hollis into this terrifying Jack-in-the-box; all are scared and beg Anthony to send it into the cornfield.

Compared to today, it’s not the scariest thing out there, but the way it was filmed really upped the horror. Everyone screams and gasps, everyone turns away. They show it to you for a split second and then just the shadow. It terrified me as a kid!

And the most terrifying part of this is, Anthony doesn’t think anything of it-he feels no remorse, horror, tension, etc. It’s just the way things are. A group take Hollis’ wife away as they are worried that she might think something that will end her life (or anger Anthony enough he starts doing terrible things to everyone). Anthony now bored, deciding to make it snow outside. When his father gets angry about the crops being ruined and what will they have to eat, trying to discipline him, he stops himself. Instead telling him

Dan Fremont: it’s good that you’re making it snow, Anthony, – it’s real good. And tomorrow – tomorrow’s going to be a real good day!

“The Good Life” from The Twilight Zone

“…if by some strange chance you should run across him, you had best think only good thoughts. Anything less than that is handled at your own risk, because if you do meet Anthony, you can be sure of one thing: you have entered The Twilight Zone.”

Rod Serling

For more Twilight Zone, go to Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?: The Twilight Zone (1961)

For more monsters, go to Did You Ever Consider the Consequences of Your Actions? You Made Me, and You Left Me to Die. Who Am I?: Frankenstein (1994)

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