Nightmare at 20,000 Feet
Nightmare is an iconic role for William Shatner, he plays a man recovering from a mental breakdown, insisting he sees a gremlin on the wings of an airplane, which no-one else notices. It’s a segment that’s been parodied widely, by everyone from The Simpsons to SNL.
Nick of Time
On a drive to New York, the car of a just married couple breaks down, and while waiting at a local diner, they find a small fortune telling machine that will dispense predictions for a penny. Of course, the predictions come true, and the pair must struggle with the lure of knowing the future, and the ironclad grasp it can have over their decisions.
The husband wants to ask the teller about every possibility of their actions, and his wife rails against relying on the seer. The two eventually leave, defying the will of the fortune teller, while another couple takes their place, stuck in its grasp for good.
Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up?
A small diner is packed with a bus full of people during a snow storm, waiting to hear if a bridge ahead is safe to cross. Two troopers come in, following the tracks from a nearby UFO citing. Someone in the diner is secretly from another planet, and the people swiftly turn on one another.
Yet as soon as they’re told the bridge is safe, they all leave, even though they no longer trust each other. Soon after, a single straggler returns, saying the bridge collapsed under them, and that everyone but him drowned. The cook mentions the traveler isn’t even wet, at which point the traveler reveals a third arm, and his Martian origins, as well as the plans to start a colony on Earth. Laughing, the cook pulls of his hat, showing a third eye, marking him as a Venusian. Earth already is a colony, and the Mars fleet was shot down in transit.
A dying millionaire meets with his family on his death bed — and on the eve of Mardis Gras he forces them to done masks while they discuss his will. His daughter, her husband and their two children are all horrible people, and he makes each of them put on masks caricaturing their personality: a sniveling coward to his daughter Emily, a miserable miser to her husband Wilfred, a twisted buffoon to the grandson Wilfred Jr., and a self-obsessed narcissist to the granddaughter Paula.
As the ailing Jason dons a skull mask, he charges them all to leave the masks on until midnight, or receive nothing of the substantial will. Suffering under the uncomfortable masks, they all plea to take them off as the night progresses, as their patriarch rails against their shortcomings, eventually exclaiming “without your masks, you’re caricatures!”, before dying. The four pull of the uncomfortable masks in relief, only to find their faces are now permanently stuck in that shape.
The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street
Talk of an alien invasion starts to surface in a small town. This story became so iconic, that it was used in classrooms as a perfect example of insular paranoia and auto-cannibalizing mistrust. The neighborhood dissolves under its own hatred and inability to trust people they’ve known their entire lives, and an angry mob forms, swiftly turning to murder and rioting.
So where’s the twist in this story of small town hatred? The power fluctuations and general spookiness were caused by aliens, who plan to spread paranoia in order to take over the planet “one Maple street at a time”