The Howling Man – The Twilight Zone
The Howling Man

The Howling Man

“The Howling Man” is Twilight Zone episode 5 of Season 2. It first aired on Nov 4th, 1960 on the CBS television network. Even today, it is on the Top 10 list of many Twilight Zone fanatics.

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A Little About Rod Serling

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet

Before we dive into “The Howling Man”, we’d like to share something about the brilliant writer and creator Rod Serling.

Rod was a huge fan of Pulp Fiction stories and gobbled up any books and articles he could find. At the same time, he was incredibly interested in themes about social issues such as racism, society, war, psychology and government. All of these ideas combined made his writing immensely deep. It’s very hard to find any writers who were as creative in this way.

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“The Howling Man” – 1960

Opening narration:

“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”

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While on a walking trip through post-World War I Central Europe in 1925, David Ellington gets lost in a storm and finds an ancient castle, now home to a secret brotherhood. He knocks on the door and pleads for help, but the brother who answers tells him they don’t allow visitors.

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After further begging, the monk goes to speak to Brother Jerome, the leader of the order, meanwhile Ellington hears a wolf-like howl coming from inside the castle. The monk returns and when asked about the howling, says it is just the wind. Brother Jerome then tells Ellington there is no help to be had and he must leave. Bewildered, sick and exhausted, Ellington walks out and collapses in the hallway.

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Man in a Cell

When Ellington wakes up, he hears the howling again and investigates to find a man in a cell. The man claims he is being held unjustly by the “mad” monks and has been beaten by Brother Jerome using the staff he carries. Ellington talks to the prisoner and is then taken back to Brother Jerome. He agrees to leave but also threatens to go to the police, which disturbs Brother Jerome.

The Howling Man

Brother Jerome then reveals the truth: the prisoner is the Devil himself and can only be contained by Brother Jerome’s “Staff of Truth”. The Devil had come to the village after World War I to corrupt it, but Brother Jerome used the staff to imprison him, giving the world five years of relative peace. Ellington pretends to believe the story, but Brother Jerome is not fooled and assigns Brother Christopherus to watch him

The Staff of Truth

The Howling Man

Ellington waits until his guard falls asleep, then sneaks down to the cell and sees that the door is only held shut by a staff that is within reach of the prisoner. He asks the imprisoned man why he has not removed the staff himself but is ignored. After relentless begging, Ellington submits and removes the staff ….and the prisoner exits the cell.

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He then pins Ellington to the floor with a wave of his hand and starts to transform into the Devil before leaving the castle in a puff of smoke. Brother Jerome arrives and sadly remarks that Man’s greatest weakness is not being able to recognize the Devil.

Video” The Howling Man Devil Transformation

“Truth is our dogma. We believe it to be man’s greatest weapon against The Devil, who is the father of all lies” – Brother Jerome

Years Later

Ellington has been recounting his story to a maid. He has been searching for the Devil to make up for his mistake since then, going through World War II, the Korean War, and the development of nuclear weapons. He has finally succeeded in trapping the Devil in a closet, barred by a staff similar to Brother Jerome’s.

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Ellington plans to take him back to the castle; he warns the doubtful housekeeper not to take away the staff no matter what. As soon as Ellington leaves, the maid hears a howl from behind the door, removes the staff, and opens the door. The devil is once again unleashed on the world!

The Howling Man: Closing Narration

“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”

The Howling Man The Twilight Zone T-shirt

The Howling Man” Cast:

    H.M. Wynant - David Ellington
    John Carradine - Brother Jerome
    Robin Hughes - The Howling Man
    Frederic Ledebur - Brother Christophorus
    Ezelle Poule - Housekeeper
The Howling Man devil himself


The writer of The Howling Man, Charles Beaumont had originally planned for the monks to keep the Devil locked up by placing a cross in front of his cell door. However, the producers were worried about potential criticism from the religious community and replaced the cross with a “staff of truth”, despite Beaumont’s objections

The Twilight Zone Trivia

  • A Twilight Zone movie was produced by John Landis and Steven Speilberg in 1983. The great actor Vic Marrow lost his life after a helicopter blade decapitated him. The film was narrated by Burgess Meredith
  • Producers tried to revive the series in 1985 but after 3 seasons, it was canceled. It just wasn’t the golden age of sci-fi TV any more
  • In 1993, a made-for-TV movie called Twilight Zone: Rod Serling’s Lost Classics was released. It featured two of Rod Serling’s works. The narrator was the great James Earl Jones, who also hosted the movie
  • Mr Serling invited viewers to submit scripts and he receive over 1,500! He read over 500 of them and two were actually used
  • Rod Serling wanted voice actor Richard Egan to do the narration but when Egan reported that he was not available, Rod did it himself
  • After naming his show, Rod found out that “The Twilight Zone” was a term already used by US Air Force pilots. It means crossing over from a day sky to a night sky above the earth
  • Desi Arnaz was technically the first host of The Twilight Zone. It was DesiLu Productions that produced the show. Thank goodness Rod Serling took control and hosted himself

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