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Series / Night Visions

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Night Visions is a The Twilight Zone-esque horror anthology series that ran for 13 episodes in 2001. Each episode features two half-hour stories, generally with a Twist Ending. Henry Rollins introduces each story and provides some kind of Aesop at the end.

This series provides examples of:

  • Acquitted Too Late: "Neighborhood Watch" ends with Mr. and Mrs. Osgood learning that the police misidentified the address of the child molester and that the new neighbor was innocent.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Grad student Reeves from Window is now Army officer Ben Darnell in "A View Through the Window."
  • Afterlife Angst: A variation in the episode "If A Tree Falls...". Three college students get into a car accident and drown—but they discover that since no one witnessed their deaths, they're somehow still allowed to be alive (and immortal at that), so long as no one ever learns the truth by seeing their bodies. Two of them are fine with the arrangement, but the third has strong religious and moral convictions that cause him to crack. He returns to the scene of the accident with the intention of only releasing his own body to be found, which will allow him to pass into the next world. In a Cruel Twist Ending, though, he only manages to free his friends' corpses (which, upon being seen, cause the friends to fade into nothingness) before the car they all died in tumbles to the bottom of the lake with his own body still trapped inside, where it will never be found or recovered, leaving him permanently stuck on Earth with no chance of escape.
  • All Just a Dream: The pilot episode, "The Passenger List", ends with the main character, an airplane crash investigator, waking up onboard a plane. It turns out that various aspects from his dream were taken from his surroundings, such as a grieving woman in the dream looking like the passenger seated next to him, a book he found in a plane wreckage was actually one that someone else was reading, etc. Then the plane crashes for real and he and everyone onboard are killed.
  • An Aesop: Delivered in no uncertain terms at the end of each episode.
    • "Dead Air": Don't piss off people on a regular basis or you'll eventually run into somebody that will not take any of your guff.
    • The episode "Neighborhood Watch" shows that taking the law into your own hands is a terrible idea and just because you hear ugly rumors about a person, you should never assume that they are guilty.
    • "The Maze" delivers a pretty important one at the end: Nothing lasts forever, and you never know when the end might come, so don't put off your dreams, because you might not get another chance at living them.
    • "A View Through The Window": Projecting your own ideals and fantasies on other people will only ever lead to disappointment and disaster, possibly even fatal ones. Trying to replace your lost loved ones with complete strangers will only lead to tragedy.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • In "Switch", a woman seeing a psychiatrist to find her alternate personality and eliminate it found that she WAS the alternate, created by her child-like real self after her parents died when she was five. The real twist? She murdered them. The episode ended with this woman — trapped in her mind, unable to speak, and unable to move — totally encased in eight big hollow bricks that spelled out "ETERNITY," with holes only for her forearms.
    • It's implied in "My so-called Life and Death" that the family will have to live in the "purgatory" that is their vacation home for all eternity, with no indication that they will ever be able to move on. As if realizing this, or as though the mother simply wants to make the best of a bad situation, they accept this and continue on the facade of a happy family in the remains of their home. It's particularly horrible for the daughter, as all she wanted to do was escape from the miserable family that she hated but is now trapped with them forever.
  • The Aloner: Thora Birch (at first) in "The Maze".
  • Amazing Freaking Grace: In "Harmony", the residents of a town recite "Amazing Grace" because they think music summons a monster. When a stranger convinces them that music is safe, they sing instead. And then it turns out a monster is summoned when there's music. Said monster eats everyone.
  • Asshole Victim: Seen occasionally, hence the Aesops.
    • The radio shock jock from "Dead Air" especially qualifies.
      Rollins: For all you pains in the asses out there, remember: you can only irritate so many people before you piss off the wrong one.
  • Black Comedy: The world falling into chaos during the second half of "Patterns" alternates between this and plain horrific, like firefighters setting a car ablaze with flamethrowers and a security guard executing a passenger in a car and then saying the vehicle can pass, with the driver nonchalantly thanking him.
  • Batman Gambit: The ending of "Patterns" implies Martin pulled one of these to get Dr. Critchley to take his place as the one holding the world together.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In "The Maze," the worlds still going to end via an asteroid hitting the earth in two years, but the protagonist decided to get Wes a chance and will live her last days to the fullest.
  • Break the Haughty: "Dead Air" has a cocky, mean-spirited shock jock played by Lou Diamond Phillips who demands his listeners try to scare him get harassed by a Serial Killer for the express purpose of doing this to him.
  • Came Back Wrong: In "Afterlife", a middle-aged man comes back from the dead during his funeral. He becomes convinced that he visited Heaven and that life on Earth is just a transitory prison of rotting human flesh. He eventually tries to force his beloved daughter into a suicide pact so they can be Together in Death. Too bad for him the idyllic afterlife he remembers was just about the stained glass window above his coffin in the funeral parlor, which would have been the very first thing his traumatized, fogged mind would see when he revived.
  • Cat Scare: Used in "The Maze" with a white cat.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: Many of the stories have this. The only notable exceptions are "Dead Air" and "Voices".
  • Dead All Along: The entire family from "My-So-Called Life and Death".
  • Demoted to Extra: Gilson in "A View Through the Window." In Window, he was the main character.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: A few episodes have this.
  • Dysfunctional Family: The family in "My so-called Life and Death". The mother and daughter don't get along, the son is an immature brat that is coddled by his mother regardless of what he does, and the father is implied to be an alcoholic that bought a vacation home to escape his family. Despite this, the mother wants to keep up the facade of a perfect, loving family and attempts to force this image on the daughter, who wants nothing more than to escape. It's revealed at the end of the episode that they're all ghosts that died in a house fire that the son caused, which the mother was trying to conceal from the daughter. With no indication that they'll ever be able to move on from purgatory, it's likely that they'll be stuck in this unhappy situation for all of eternity.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The ending of "Voices". The main character manages to talk down the narcotics detective from killing her by telling him that it's not his fault his little brother got shot. He turns himself in and the protagonist comes out alive.
  • Empathic Healer: "Now He's Coming Up the Stairs" stars Luke Perry as a psychotherapist with the ability to absorb his patients' mental disorders.
  • Enfant Terrible: The ending of "Switch" reveals the main character killed her own mother with her father's gun when she was ten and had the blame pinned to said father. She felt no remorse for it.
  • Every Episode Ending: Each episode ends with some sort of quip, one-liner, or Broken Aesop or Spoof Aesop by Henry Rollins.
  • Evil Is One Big, Happy Family: The family on the other side of the dimensional window in "A View Through The Window" seem to be a close, strongly bonded group, even after their true inhuman, monstrous nature is revealed. Since they didn't know the window existed until the main character gets through the barrier, they genuinely were as happy and close as they appeared, rather than pretending to lure in new victims.
  • Evil Learns of Outside Context: The episode "A View Through the Window" involves a dimensional portal appearing in the middle of the desert, apparently leading to a quiet farming community some indeterminate time in the past. Eventually, the "humans" are revealed to actually be ravenous aliens who use their technology to close the portal on our end and start to look for a way to travel to Earth.
  • Eye Scream:
    • The series' intro title is a needle falling onto someone's exposed eye, but stopping just before the impact to flash forward through the upcoming stories.
    • The main character in "Darkness" ends up burning out his retinas with a powerful UV light while trying to kill one of the living shadow that put itself on his face.
  • False Friend: Lucy in "Used Car," who manipulates Charlottes trust to get her to leave her husband so she can be with him. She then murders Charlotte so she’ll no longer have a rival for his affection.
  • False Innocence Trick: "Cargo" deals with a crewman on a cargo ship who finds that one of the containers is carrying what seem to be stowaways who have the misfortune of being locked in with a man-eating monster. The twist is that the people in the container are cannibalistic assassins who are being imported for use by the Russian mafia, and that the crewman's superior officers are being paid to transport them. Things do not end well for the crewman.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: The heroine of "The Maze".
  • Foreshadowing: In "My So-Called Life and Death", the mother takes the lighter from the son, scolding his sister and father for allowing him to be "tempted by it". It's revealed in the end that the lighter is what killed them all in the first place, as he accidentally caused a house fire while playing with it.
  • Haunted House: "Renovation" has a newlywed couple move into a home that had a homicide-suicide 30 years ago. The victim's ghosts are still in the house much to the husband's horror. As it turns out, those ghosts are the husband's parents.
  • Haunted Technology: "Used Car".
  • Human Resources: This becomes the fate of a group of unfortunate travelers in "Rest Stop". It turns out that the rest stop in the woods is a trap by the xenophobic locals to capture and kill people so they can make artifacts out of their hair, skin, and teeth.
    "You may have no use for us...but we definitely have use for you."
  • I'm a Humanitarian:
    • The seemingly helpless stowaways in "Cargo".
    • The inhabitants in the spatial anomaly in "A View Through A Window"... if they're even human at all.
  • Jerkass: Several, but particularly Tom Fallor from "Dead Air".
  • Karmic Twist Ending: While many are of the Cruel Twist variety, some fall under this category.
  • Lack of Empathy: The Jerkass shock jock in "Dead Air" has a case of this.
  • Living Shadow: The antagonists in "Darkness". It's not fully explained what they are, but the executor of the estate seems to believe they're some sort of manifestation of the hatred the town holds towards the cruel owners of the mansion.
  • Made-for-TV Movie: Four unaired episodes — "Patterns", "The Maze", "Harmony", and "Voices" — were edited into a movie, Shadow Realm, minus the introductions and aesops by Henry Rollins.
  • Madness Mantra: In "Now He's Coming Up the Stairs":
    "Now he's coming through the woods, now he's coming through the yard, now he's coming up the stairs..."
  • Monstrous Humanoid: The inhabitants of the otherworldly farm in "A View Through A Window". They look perfectly human... until they unhinge their jaws, revealing massive, pointed shark-like teeth.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: In "Used Car," Lucy asked this of Charlotte’s husband because he was having an affair with her. Then she killed herself when he refused, possessing the car he bought her and using it to kill his wife herself at the end of the episode.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished:
    • The protagonist in "Now He's Coming Up the Stairs" ends up insane because he absorbed a little boy's insanity.
    • In "Cargo", the protagonist ends up Eaten Alive, because he wanted to help the seemingly harmless stowaways in the ship.
    • In "Used Car," Charlotte leaves her husband in solidarity and disgust for how he treated Lucy, his previous lover whom he impregnated… then Lucy reveals herself to be no friend to Charlotte at all, revealing that she was sleeping with her husband while they were still married and asked him to kill her so they can be together. The episode ends with Lucy successfully killing Charlotte and letting the husband know she’s still obsessively in love with him.
  • No Mere Windmill: In "Harmony", The Beast turns out to be real after all.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: "Neighborhood Watch" ends with a two-fold example: Jim Osgoode being given a piece of paper from his wife. The paper is from the police, reporting that they had accidentally printed the incorrect address for the sexual predator that moved into the neighborhood, and ends by apologizing for any inconveniences this may have caused. As both adults silently contemplate this revelation, their daughter, Janey, looks at the letter and (unaware of what's going on) asks her dad if this means there's another "bad guy". The previous night, Jim had murdered who he thought was the predator.
    Janey: Is- is there another bad guy, Dad? Dad? Who's the bad guy, Dad? Dad? Who is it, Dad? Dad? Who's the bad guy, Dad?
  • Obsessively Organized: In "Patterns", Malcolm McDowell plays a man that obsessively does number-related rituals (e.g., patting himself in certain places, flicking behind his ear a certain number of times). He believes that if he stops, the world will unravel. And it turns out that he's right.
  • Offing the Offspring: The mother in "Harmony" strangles her son to death with a wire for listening to music. Comes off as Disproportionate Retribution at first, but the end of the episode proves that its not without reason, as his rebelliousness put the entire town at risk.
  • Off with His Head!: The fate of the protagonist in "Cargo".
  • Pædo Hunt: In "Neighborhood Watch", based around a town's residents turning vigilante when they are informed that a convicted child abuser has been released into the community.
  • Paranoia Fuel: Invoked to great effect in the opening speech of "The Occupant."
    "When Mary Hughes got divorced, she was afraid to be alone. Now she's terrified that she isn't."
  • Psychic Link: In "Voices", Sandra tries an experimental treatment to bring her hearing back, but it doesn't work. Instead, she develops a psychic one-way link with Bruce, a narcotics detective who's hiding secrets.
  • Red Herring: Ben in "Quiet Please". The episode arguably suffers because there are only three characters, and his status as the Red Herring is rather obvious, making the killer's identity equally obvious.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Happens in "Bitter Harvest". Shane cost Old Man Jennings his arms, so Jennings curses his horse to give birth to a limbless foal. It's hinted that the same might befall his unborn sibling as well.
  • Scream Discretion Shot: "Dead Air" ends with Tom Fallor screaming as he is murdered by a Serial Killer.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The plot of "The Bokor" has a quartet of medical students perform an autopsy on a man with a tattoo on his forehead. One of the students recognizes the tattoo, explaining that he's a voodoo priest known as a Bokor. The tattoo not only symbolizes his role, but is there to seal his evil power. Once they cut it, he's unleashed and wreaks havoc on them. Except it was all an act planned by two students to kill the other two.
  • Secret Test of Character: A possible interpretation of "Bitter Harvest". The antagonist (arguably not a villain) passes up numerous chances to punish the Villain Protagonist. Punishment is finally delivered only after the protagonist not only fails to learn a lesson but outright condemns the antagonist for showing forgiveness. The ending could be seen as Old Man Jennings telling Shane "okay, we'll play by your rules."
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: The ending of "Rest Stop" involves the college kids tied down, only to have their own body parts recycled by a crazy cult.
  • Surprisingly Creepy Moment: The ending to "A View Through A Window" (based on the Bob Leman short story Window), which is played a lot like The Twilight Zone's more heartwarming episodes... right up until the main character manages to enter the idyllic world inside the anomaly, and meets the woman he's been fawning over. They kiss... Then she proceeds to tear out his throat, quickly joined by her children. Turns out the inhabitants of that world LOOK human, but are anything but.
  • Tomato in the Mirror:
    • "My So-Called Life and Death" ends with the main character realizing that the man she thought was a ghost is actually alive, and it's she and her family who are dead.
    • In "Switch", the woman who is seeing a therapist to get rid of alternate personalities realizes she herself is one of the alternate personalities.
    • In "The Occupant", the main character, a woman who fears someone is living in her house turns out to be the insane ex-wife of the house's former owner, who sold it to another woman. As the real intruder is driven away by the police, she stares at the house's actual occupant, commenting that "she must be crazy..."
  • Tongue Trauma: The end of "Quiet Please" has a chopped tongue in a pickled jar. It's Ben's tongue.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: "Neighborhood Watch" and "Harmony".
  • Unwanted Revival: In "After Life", a man who revives during his own funeral misses the perfect, beautiful heaven he had moved on to. But it turns out after he dies again that his idea of a "perfect heaven" was just a stained glass window above his coffin at the funeral parlor.
  • Wham Line:
    • Towards the end of "Quiet Please", after Ben refuses to leave Gerry alone, even after a bear had killed Ben's dog, Gerry loses all patience he has, and snaps, proceeding to have breakdown about how he just wanted a weekend of quiet and relaxation...
      Gerry: Just one lousy weekend... Is that so much to ask...
      Ben: (ashamed) No...
      Gerry: (turns around to face Ben; is wiping his glasses with his shirt) I-I-I-I even tried killing your dog, but... (Ben's face drops in shock) you still wouldn't leave...
      • "Uh, w-wha-what about the bear?" "Oh, there-there is no bear... I'm-I'm the bear..."
  • Yandere: The cursed car in "Used Car." By the end of the episode, she kills Charlotte so she can be closer to her husband.