A Twonky is something that you do not know what it is.
October 8, 2011 3:57 PM   Subscribe

One of the more terrifying monsters to haunt the human imagination: The Twonky (yt).

A thinly veiled parable of the dangers of televised entertainment destroying human individuality, 1953's The Twonky is still scary enough to give this PrisonPlanetoid discomfort. Others say it might be ripe for a remake or simply asinine. Me? I have no complaints.
posted by kuujjuarapik (19 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I remember reading about this as a kid -- I'll watch it. Thanks for the link.

The opening reminds me of a Tex Avery cartoon.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:14 PM on October 8, 2011

"it is only when the television subsequently lights his pipe that West realizes that his television is behaving abnormally."

You know, like you do. ;)

This would have given me nightmares as a child, that's for sure.
posted by usagizero at 4:18 PM on October 8, 2011

I like how the sentient robot has to call in using a standard phone and give an oral report to human switchboard operators.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 4:29 PM on October 8, 2011

I read this when it was called When the Tripods Came.
posted by The Confessor at 4:34 PM on October 8, 2011

Oh man, it is nightmarish, isn't it? Next thing I expect to hear is "NO SPRINGS!"
posted by Countess Elena at 4:47 PM on October 8, 2011 [3 favorites]

The YouTube user who put this up, "Professor Craigles" (NO relation) has a lot of other Nightmare Fuel and Batshit Craziness, from 3 minute very-silent cartoons for Super 8 projectors to other feature-length oddities (one of which I'm saving for a post). And I thought this would be a boring Saturday Night...
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:59 PM on October 8, 2011

Oh god, the short story scarred my soul.
posted by trunk muffins at 5:06 PM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of Oboler's best remembered scripts for Lights Out was Chicken Heart, first broadcast March 10, 1937:

Dr. Calvin: I tell you that mass of flesh was a chicken heart... the tissue of which for some reason is undergoing constant, rapid, accelerating growth. With every passing hour its growth is doubling. Do you know what that means? If it is now one block in size, within 30 hours that cannibal flesh will have increased in size to one square block to the 30th power. In 30 hours every inch of this whole city will be crushed under that moving flesh. Within 60 hours it will have covered the entire state. Within two weeks the entire United States. You ask for the National Guard. I say call out the entire army. Blast this thing off the earth.[5][6]

Curiously, in the 1960s, "Chicken Heart" became more associated with comedian Bill Cosby than Oboler. Cosby's retelling of the radio drama with humorous vocalized sound effects became one of his most popular comedy routines, recorded on Cosby's Wonderfulness (1966) and available today on both YouTube and a CD reissue.

posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:30 PM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


posted by cashman at 5:38 PM on October 8, 2011

What a great character voice Hans Conried had.
posted by Trochanter at 6:25 PM on October 8, 2011

I wonder if this is the inspiration for Twonky from the game robo rally?
posted by drezdn at 6:47 PM on October 8, 2011 [3 favorites]

If the Twonky could control you with mind-zapping, why bother lighting your ciggie and printing money? Why not just zap you from the get go?
posted by emjaybee at 6:53 PM on October 8, 2011

Interesting to see TV as an antagonist so early on. The appropriate song for a remix of this would be Frank Zappa's I'm The Slime.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 7:17 PM on October 8, 2011

This scared the living crap out of me when I was about 5 years old. I was afraid of television sets for ten years afterwards.
posted by pjern at 7:41 PM on October 8, 2011

me too.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 7:43 PM on October 8, 2011

Whoa, this is an established thing? In college, I had to write an interactive fiction game, and the professor had us set it on "Twonky Island" and include twonkies. I assumed it was something he made up and that the twonkies were weird but cute kind of like those robots in Batteries Not Included. I had no idea they were terrifying.
posted by ignignokt at 11:14 PM on October 8, 2011

Get OUT of here Finchley! This gave me nightmares as a child.
posted by Splunge at 1:13 AM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was a huge fan of both Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore (aka Lewis Padgett) as a kid. I loved reading the pulp sci fi shorts from ~1940-1955, and The Twonky was definitely one of them. If you like that, definitely check out their other short called “Mimsy Were the Borogoves.” Kuttner died in 1958 of a heart attack at only 43.

More here: http://www.innsmouthfreepress.com/?p=10682
posted by scamper at 1:28 AM on October 9, 2011

I thought “twonky” was gay slang for a cute but ditzy young guy.
posted by acb at 4:12 PM on October 9, 2011

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