Story by Robert Crais
Directed by B. W. L. Norton
Original Airdate - January 24, 1986
Ralph Bellamy - Emil Bendictson
Oliver Robins - Toby Micheals
Kathleen Lloyd - Mrs. Michaels
Bruce Solomon - Mr. Michaels
Lewis Dauber - Lou Calderon
Mary Margaret Lewis - Liz
Roger Hampton - Mover #1
Eve Brenner - Neighbor #1
Teryn Jenkins - Neighbor #2



Toby is young boy who loves to read "Famous Monsters," the magazine started by Forest Ackerman.  His room looks like a scene from a monster movie, with masks and futuristic weapons all over the place.  His best friend, who lived next door, has just moved away, and it's the beginning of a long, boring summer, or so he thinks. 

A moving van shows up next door, and Toby sneaks around to get a look at the new neighbors.  While he's skulking underneath it, he sees someone walking around the moving van…suddenly, the person is looking under the van, right at him.  Toby comes out and meets his elderly new neighbor, Mr. Bendictson.  He's immediately suspicious, for some reason, and starts to watch the old man.  He hides under Mr. Bendictson's front porch, where the old man once again catches him.  Toby sees him raise his car off the ground, and is convinced that the old man is a vampire, despite the fact that he walks abroad in daylight.  Bendictson is amused when Toby accuses him, and take Toby to an Italian restaurant, where he tries to prove he's not a vampire by putting a lot of garlic on his spaghetti.  Toby is still not convinced.  One day, while spying in the old man's house, Toby finds nothing in the refrigerator but bags of blood, stolen from a Red Cross clinic.  Now he's sure.

Toby seems to catch a cold, and his mother puts him to bed.  Bendictson comes to Toby's window, at night, and says he has something to show the boy.  Toby is scared, but goes along.  Bendictson takes him to a Mill Valley graveyard, where a cornfield abuts the back side of the graveyard.  He takes a stick and brushes it along the cornstalks, stirring up hundreds of fireflies.  The air is soon filled with them, and Toby is delighted.  Toby feels comfortable with the old man, and asks him how he became a vampire.  Bendictson doesn't deny it now, but tells Toby that after he first changed, he found he had to keep moving because whatever he had become was like an allergy to humans.  He pulls Toby close to him and Toby can't stop sneezing.  Bendictson says that if he spent too much time around humans, they mutated to monsters that tried to kill him.  The old man has spent decades moving from one place to another, and has come home to die. 

The next night, Toby is feeling worse and his parents are even feeling sick now; the entire neighborhood is sick, and Toby's mother is worried it's an outbreak of some kind.  Suddenly, around midnight, they begin to change into strange, humped beings…or monsters, if you like.  Next door, Mr. Bendictson has opened his door to let the monsters in.  The people from the neighborhood, looking like the cast of a monster film, begin to shuffle and stomp up to Bendictson's doorstep, and walk inside.  Bendictson meets them with resignation…his journey has ended.

The next day, everyone is feeling better and are back to normal, but seem to have no memory of what happened.  The paramedics are removing the old man's body, and Toby is sad because he really did like Bendictson.  He takes his father to the same Mill Valley graveyard, to show him the firefly display.  His father thinks it's cool, but then he sneezes.  The last thing we see is Toby's worried face, as he wonders what that sneeze meant.


"Monsters" is a good, but rather ambivalent, episode.  I enjoy watching it, but I'm not sure what they could have done to give it more edge.  For a production filled with monsters, it's just not edgy enough.  Ralph Bellamy is wonderful as Mr. Bendictson, a man who is not what he appears to be.  Bellamy is an actor from the golden age of Hollywood, who kept working right up until his death in 1991 at age 87, and fits this role perfectly.  He's funny and touching as a vampire who has spent his entire adult life moving from one place to another, trying to escape the mutated humans who keep trying to exterminate him.  We don't hear how he was infected, so this is a mystery that's not cleared up, even at the end when it seems like either Toby has caught the infection, or another vampire is in the area.  Was it infectious, and Toby caught it from the old man?  The viewers might have liked to know this, because the ending is so vague, or at least I would have liked to know. 

Oliver Robins is adequate as Toby, but he's three years older than he was in "Poltergeist," where he gave a more natural performance.  He's kind of wooden here, so he's not as effective as he might have been.  It looks like he's gone into directing, so he might not have been as keen on acting in 1985 as he had been as a child.  Bruce Solomon and Kathleen Lloyd are effectively goofy as Toby's parents; I always enjoyed Solomon's work in things like "Foul Play" and "Mary Hartman."  He's a good comedic actor. 

Once again, makeup and special effects enhance the atmosphere of an episode.  The monster makeup is effective, and the setting of Mr. Bendictson's demise is appropriately creepy.  The effects of the fireflies in the cornfield are well done, and give the scene an eerie aura, since they're standing near a graveyard when it happens.

I confess that I was a Famous Monster's fanatic as a teenager, as well as a fan of Creepy and Eerie magazines.  I enjoyed them as much for the story as for the artwork, and will still pick them up to read today.  I became a devotee of the artist SanJulian, thanks to those EC magazine covers, and still covet his work as an adult, probably more so.  He is a genius.