The Shadow Man

The New Twilight Zone: The Shadow Man (1985)

Do you know The Shadow Man? I have always, always been a very big fan of Rod Serling’s TV masterpiece we know as the Twilight Zone. I grew up to be a devotee to Rod Serling in general. So I naturally love Night Gallery as well as his other works be they literary or on the Silver Screen.

So, picture if you will, myself at thirteen learning that CBS was bringing back the Zone to TV, it was going to be called the New Twilight Zone. Which made sense because we had New Coke on the shelves, right? To be fair I don’t think CBS ever called it the New Twilight Zone themselves. Media and fans just used it to explain what series they were referring to I reckon.

So my family and I sat down to watch the first episode which featured Bruce Willis (Shatterday, a story by the legendary Harlan Ellison!), Melinda Dillion (A Little Peace and Quiet), and Robert Klein (Wordplay). We all liked it though my Father was hesitant on his praise for the series, his complaints would be the same I would pick up just a couple of episodes later, this new version of the Twilight Zone seemed to be darker…meaner…and sometimes incredibly cruel.

The tenth episode in the first season had a tale called “The Shadow Man” and was written by Rockne S. O’Bannon (Alien Nation, Farscape) and directed by none other than Joe Dante (The Howling, Gremlins). It starred Jonathan Ward (Who’s The Boss?, Mac and Me), Heathe Haase (Gremlins 2, Growing Pains) and Jeff Calhoun (Aria) as the Shadow Man.

This particular story of a young boy who befriends the Shadow Man that lives under his bed really shook me up, scared me silly. Which should go a long way to point out how well this episode was made considering I watched the entire thing in the electronics section of my local Wal-Mart. While my Father was shopping I just stood in front of their television displays. Maybe having those 30 televisions of various sizes all showing the Shadow Man do his horrible deeds kind of made everything a little more surreal.

Watch The New Twilight Zone: The Shadow Man


Editor at Retroist
Searching through the alleys for useful knowledge in the city of Nostalgia. Huge cinema fanatic and sometimes carrier of the flame for the weirding ways of 80s gaming, toys, and television. When his wife lets him he is quite happy sitting in the corner eating buckets of beef jerky.

Never Miss an Episode

Stay up-to-date on the latest from the Retroist Podcast. Sign up and receive email notifications when there's a new episode of the Retroist Podcast or when we launch new podcasts.
* indicates required

7 thoughts on “The New Twilight Zone: The Shadow Man (1985)

  1. Doug says:

    One of my favs from one of my favs. Scared me as well. I watched it alone, in the dark, in the playroom. I agree with everything you say about the new Twilight Zone being crueler. Another thing about TV at that time was that if you missed it, you missed it. There was no DVRing, no rewinding live TV, no YouTube. I saw most of the Melida Dillon episode but for some reason was not looking at the very end and missed it. A friend had to tell me what happened. Though I never saw it (and won’t reveal it for those that didn’t see it, either), what my friend described stuck with me for years (and even inspired a short screenplay).

  2. A great episode and high on the adolescent creep factor. It is definitely an exhort show, but that did not diminish the storytelling. Currently it is one of favorite shows to rematch.

  3. John M says:

    This is an absolutely classic episode that was introduced to me by my (now) brother-in-law. He raved about it, but it wasn’t till years later that I actually saw it. I think it’s the most memorable episode of the new series.

  4. Wow, I haven’t seen this since it originally aired (I was thirteen too) but I remembered nearly every shot. Using a monster to achieve popularity was a fantasy tailor-made for me.
    A friend and I used to schedule our weekends around this series. I love that you watched it in a Wal-Mart. That’s the same place I watched the climax of Live Aid.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Fraze says:

    Again, another reason why the Retroist is the best site on the net!! I haven’t seen/thought of this episode in YEARS! I was 14 when I saw it (by pretty much any standards more than old enough to have been able to stomach this) but it scared the crap out of me…I checked under my bed for WEEKS after watching this. I recently bought the original Twilight Zone box set, I was never a *huge* fan of the 80’s remake, I found it hit and miss with the above episode being a rare hit. but man, those originals have to be some of the BEST tv shows out there!!

  6. Hollyfeld says:

    Loved this episode.

    When I was 13 and saw this when it originally aired, the ending stuck with me for days afterwards. This episode and the one about the vietnam war vet (“Nightcrawlers”) were two of the most unsettling episodes of the series.

  7. wdalphin says:

    This was classic. When the New Twilight Zone came out on DVD, I happily picked it up. I even make sure to teach my daughter about The Shadow Man that lives under the bed, and that she’s safe as long as it’s her bed and not someone else’s.

    My favorite episodes were

    The one where the boy befriends his elderly neighbor who turns out to be a vampire who has come home to die, and humanity has developed an allergic reaction to vampires that causes them to turn into monsters and slaughter them.

    The Elevator, where two boys explore a warehouse/lab their father disappeared in. He had been experimenting on growth serums and they find giant dead rats, cats and dogs… and something else.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.