I watched 65 episodes of The Ray Bradbury Theater…

…and I’m here with a list of my favorite episodes.

Most people know author Ray Bradbury due to his classic Fahrenheit 451, which many of us were required to read back in high school (but which is probably banned these days, ironically). However, Bradbury was a prolific author of sci-fi/fantasy novels and short stories. There have been movie adaptations of his work, and his stories have been adapted over the years for episodes of The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. So in the 80s, when horror anthology shows were hot, it made sense that HBO would bring us a series based on his tales. It was eventually released on DVD…six seasons, 65 episodes, crammed onto 5 DVDs. since the discs don’t feature the episodes organized in order of original air date, I’m going to break down my favorite episodes by disc number—and it’s pretty safe to say many coincide with my favorite short stories of his on which they are based.


The Crowd

This tale is an absolute classic in which a man gets into a car accident and survives…but then begins to notice all the same people surrounding victims every time there’s a tragic accident. This is possibly his most chilling story ever.

Marionettes, Inc.

This one comes from the director of Humongous and Prom Night (the latter of which explains why Leslie Nielsen has a role in the episode). A man buys a robot clone of himself to fill in for him when he needs a break from his over-attentive wife. What could possibly go wrong?

The Playground

The director of Killer Party and Funeral Home gives us a haunting tale of a man who relives his childhood when his bullies return to torment his son at the playground. William Shatner stars in this creeptastic episode.

The Screaming Woman

Directed by the director of Prom Night 2, this one stars young Drew Barrymore who reads Tales from the Crypt magazine! She becomes convinced she hears a woman’s screams coming from underground in the woods, but no one believes her.


A man and woman meet at a costume party. They hit it off immediately and have a perfection relationship, but he begins to wonder if it’s real or a dream. She brings him to a sleazy hotel to test his boundaries and see if he still thinks she’s the perfect woman for him. That’s when things get very witchy.

The Emissary

Bradbury manages to throw a creepy twist into an otherwise heartfelt tale. A young boy with an illness has a dog that always brings him things to make him feel better. Horrifically, on Halloween night the dog once again brings the boy something it thinks will make him feel better. Eek!

The Man Upstairs

A young boy living with his grandmother begins to believe a new tenant upstairs is a vampire. The boy’s risky attempts at investigating on his own are so perfectly 80s horror-lite, but it gets horror heavy when the twist hits.

The Small Assassin

It’s the tried and true plot line of a mother believing her newborn is evil and trying to kill her. There’s even creepy baby POV. However, the ending kind of leaves us hanging…

On the Orient, North

This is a morbid little tale of a nurse on a train who offers to help a dying man travel to a place that still believes in the supernatural, because she believes he is already a ghost. This one has a very Twilight Zone ending.

The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl

This tale plays out of sequence and is carried along by the manic performance of icon Michael Ironside as an enraged author. It’s pretty obvious from the start why he feels the need to target his literary agent, but as the tale unfolds somewhat backwards, this becomes a take on Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” concept.



This is a darkly comic tale starring American Pie daddy Eugene Levy as a hypochondriac who goes to a creepy bone expert and receives a treatment that leads to bone problems being a thing of the past. Eek! The final moments deliver the money shot.

Punishment Without Crime

This is classic Bradbury sci-fi and stars Donald Pleasence as a man who purchases a robot clone of his adulterous wife thinking she’ll be a better “person”. However, things go horribly wrong instead.

The Dwarf

The sister from Silver Bullet plays a young woman that befriends a small man who visits the carnival house of mirrors to see himself as tall. She delves into his world to get a better understanding of life from his perspective. This one has a perfect 80s horror anthology series vibe, and the carnival setting and its sleazy owner add a great creep factor.

The Veldt

This story is a reminder that Bradbury always seemed to have a view into the future. Parents keep their children occupied in a sort of virtual reality playroom. Things go horribly wrong when the children somehow lock the playroom in man-eating jungle animal mode. Eek!

Boys! Raise Giant Mushrooms in Your Cellar!

This is a classic story that has been adapted or ripped off in variations. A boy orders one of those kits from a magazine that allows you to grow plant life, in this case, mushrooms. His dad begins to think the mushrooms are alien invaders…especially when his son begins acting weird.


The Wind

A meteorologist determines that the wind isn’t a natural occurrence, but actually a demonic force…and now it’s after him because he knows. Quite cool taking the idea of howling winds, which are usually a byproduct of horror atmosphere, and making them the actual monster.

A Sound of Thunder

This is a classic Bradbury story in which rich people pay to go back in time to kill dinosaurs, demonstrating how the slightest alteration in the eco-system during prehistoric times could have massive implications on our present day society.

The Wonderful Death of Dudley Stone

John Saxon stars as a famous writer at a book signing who is threatened by a failed novelist that plans to kill him. Taking the “fan” completely off guard, Saxon actually invites him to his house to do it! They both have interesting definitions of death as it pertains to themselves.

Hail and Farewell

Bradbury has a beautiful ability to write stories filled with haunting nostalgia, longing for youth, and the fear of aging. In this tale, a young boy who doesn’t age moves from family to family, becoming their new child to fill the holes left by loss of their own children. But each time he doesn’t outgrow his family he has to move on, leaving them to mourn all over again.

Here There Be Tygers

Astronauts land on an unpopulated planet and discover it is alive and can grant wishes…but it can also harm those who intend to hurt it, which doesn’t bode well for the humans when they pull out the big drill. Talk about a commentary on the way we live on earth!

Touch of Petulance

Eddie Albert stars in this goodie about a young man who encounters his older self, who is there to convince him that he is planning to—but shouldn’t—kill his wife in the future.

The Black Ferris

After the fantastic movie adaptation of Something Wicked This Way Comes in the early 80s, I don’t know why they felt the need to create this shortened version of it, but that’s what we get here, and it works. Two boys sneak off to the carnival and discover the owner uses his magic Ferris wheel for a nefarious purpose (in the movie and novel it was a carousel).


Sally Kellerman plays the leader of her town’s lady lodge. Her rival believes she’s using witchcraft to stay in the position and plans to exorcise her at the next election. It’s such a good setup, but don’t expect an exorcism…

Mars is Heaven

Another of Bradbury’s poignant stories given away by the title of the episode. Astronauts land on Mars only to discover anyone they know that dies is still alive and living in the same small town they grew up in. If only it could stay that sweet and touching…

The Murderer

A man goes on a murder spree…killing all forms of technology that create noise pollution. Bradbury really could see into the future. Keep an eye out for Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste playing on a television.

Usher II

A more horror themed take on Fahrenheit 451, this time Bradbury brings us a future world where fantasy novels have been banned. A man builds a castle based on the writings of Edgar Allan Poe and uses it to get revenge on the government.


The Earthmen

There are numerous Mars-themed stories in this series thanks to material drawn from Bradbury’s book The Martian Chronicles, but this is definitely one of the eeriest ones. Men land on Mars and end up in a Martian insane asylum. Eek!

Zero Hour

Horror queen Katharine Isabelle plays the young lead in this tale about kids playing an odd game with household items that leads them to communicate with another form of life. As usual, Bradbury makes a commentary on society with a message about households in which both parents work and kids are left to their own devices.

The Jar

80s horror king Paul Le Mat stars as a man who buys a weird specimen in a jar from a carnival and brings it home to his slutty wife hoping it will gain him her attention. Instead, it has a mesmerizing effect on strangers that come to get a look at it.

The Martian

Obviously another Mars story, this one is about a couple from Earth living on Mars after the loss of their son. Their grief is so powerful that it is absorbed by a Martian, which then shape-shifts into the form of their son… and the situation escalates fast.

Let’s Play Poison

A reminder that childhood cruelty is a never-ending epidemic, this tale has a teacher plan revenge on the evil children that bully one of his students to death. But the evil children have plans for him, too. Eek!


The Lonely One

A serial killer is on the loose in a small town, but that doesn’t stop a woman from going to the movies…until it’s time to walk home alone at night. Eek! This is a perfectly chilling episode.

The Long Rain

Several astronauts land on a planet where it never stops raining. The plant life has plenty of water…what it needs is food…. 80s sci-fi/fantasy/horror king Marc Singer stars, and gets shirtless. Just the way we like him.

Fee Fie Foe Fum

Edith Bunker plays a rich elderly woman with lots of pets, and everyone wants her money, especially her granddaughter’s husband, who threatens to feed the pets to a garbage disposal. Jean Stapleton is delicious in a very different role from her iconic All in the Family persona.

By The Numbers

This one has such a great “even accidental revenge is sweet” vibe. A militant father teaches his young son discipline and it ends up biting him in the ass. This episode also happens to have a couple of pretty boys who seem very queer coded.

The Tombstone

In this quirky tale, Shelley Duvall and her husband stop at a hotel and find a tombstone in their room. She becomes convinced the room is haunted and then things start getting really weird.

The Handler

A mortician in a small town takes revenge on the bodies of those who wronged him in life. It’s a dark and gloomy episode brightened by a hunky corpse. That’s right. I said it. It also serves as the perfect final episode on the DVD collection, because it has a classic horror conclusion.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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