What is reality? How do we know if we're alive or dead? What if everyone we know is lying to us? Some of our favorite movies, from "12 Monkeys" to "Get Out" and "Shutter Island," took their existential cues from "The Twilight Zone." Here are 26 films that blew our minds in the same way.
'Planet of the Apes' (1968)
It's a madhouse -- a madhouse! -- when astronaut Charlton Heston realizes he and his team have landed on a planet ruled by (gasp!) talking apes! The final reveal remains one of the greatest film endings of all time. None other than Rod Serling co-wrote the screenplay. (Skip the Tim Burton remake.)
'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' (2011)
The new series of "Apes" movies goes back to the beginning to see how simians became intelligent and overthrew the humans repressing them. (A well-meaning science experiment, of course.) The scene on the bridge still gives us chills. Who knew we'd be rooting for the apes?
'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' (1978)
The '50s original about pods from outer space taking over humans was about Cold War paranoia and conformity. But the also-great '70s version is fueled with is own brand of post-Watergate paranoia. You can't trust anyone.
'12 Monkeys' (1995)
Terry Gilliam's sci-fi classic (based on the French short film "La Jetée") finds Bruce Willis time-traveling to prevent a deadly virus from wiping out most of the population. His own memory (and sense of who he is) is scrambled in the process. And that ending...!
'Total Recall' (1990)
Pretty much everything sci-fi novelist Philip K. Dick wrote is like something from "Twilight Zone." In this hit '90s action movie, Arnold Schwarzenegger is a construction worker who finds out his dreams about Mars are all too real. He's actually a secret agent. And his wife isn't really his wife. Now, that's a head trip.
'Get Out' (2017)
Something is very, very wrong when African-American Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) visits his girlfriend's very white family in a very white community. The only other black people are servants who act oddly -- and one spaced-out man who warns Chris, "GET OUT!"
'The Sixth Sense' (1999)
Many films have featured the Big Twist with its main character, but few have done it so well -- and with such clever misdirection as in M. Night Shyamalan's Oscar-nominated film. Endlessly re-watchable, even when you know the truth.
'Shutter Island' (2010)
In this Martin Scorsese film set in the '50s, a U.S. Marshall (Leonardo DiCaprio) investigates a disappearance at a psychiatric facility on Shutter Island. He suspects a conspiracy and he's right: He's actually a mental patient and the whole "investigation" is an elaborate (and very unbelievable) form of therapy for his tragic past.
'Rosemary's Baby' (1968)
The devilish secret behind Rosemary (Mia Farrow)'s pregnancy? She's carrying the Devil's child, thanks to her Satan-worshiping neighbors and her ambitious a-hole of a husband. The movie that made us think twice before befriending that nice old lady next door.
'The Truman Show' (1998)
Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) learns that his entire life is a hit TV show -- and that his wife, neighbors, and coworkers are all actors. Andrew Niccol's Oscar-nominated script is based on an '80s episode of "The Twilight Zone" called "Special Service."
'Jacob's Ladder' (1990)
A Vietnam vet (Tim Robbins) is unhinged by terrifying hallucinations. Is it PTSD or is there something more sinister going on? One of the best versions of this particular trope. (Skip lesser films like 'The Jacket.")
In Terry Gilliam's retro authoritarian dystopia, an ordinary man (Jonathan Pryce) daydreams he's a winged avenger saving the girl of his dreams. The surreal, nightmarish humor throughout doesn't prepare you for the bleak-as-hell ending.
'Altered States' (1980)
Ken Russell's hallucinogenic drama finds psychologist William Hurt going to such radical extremes in a sensory deprivation tank, he actually devolves into a caveman. Instead of stopping, he goes even deeper with his experiments. (Setting the stage for Scarlett Johansson's evolution in the radically different "Lucy.")
'The Others' (2001)
A twist on the haunted house movie finds war widow Nicole Kidman trying to protect her sunlight-sensitive children. Someone, perhaps ghosts, or the sinister servants, are sabotaging her every move.
'Vanilla Sky' (2001)
Cameron Crowe's remake of the 1997 Spanish film "Open Your Eyes" stars Tom Cruise as a wealthy playboy who is horribly disfigured in a car accident. Miraculously, his face is repaired, but he still has odd visions he can't explain. Is he really dead? Or in a limbo between life and death? Tech Support!!
'Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines' (2003)
What if, despite all of John Connor's training, and that his mom died believing they'd stopped Judgment Day, Skynet was always going to win? That's the grim, gut-punch ending this third film in the visionary franchise delivers.
Coraline (voiced by Dakota Fanning) wishes she had a more attentive mother -- and then finds her in an alternate universe. Of course, it's too good to be true -- since the black-eyed Other Mother wants her soul. Based on Neil Gaiman's novel, of course.
'The Babadook' (2014)
This Aussie horror film, in which a character from a children's book terrorizes a single mother and her imaginative son, takes the "Living Doll" episode of "Twilight Zone" to terrifying new depths. Whether Mr. Babadook is real or not, this duo will never be the same.
One of the best Stephen King adaptations places a supernatural debunker (John Cusack) in a notoriously haunted hotel room. Despite dire warnings, he checks in -- and finds he can never check out. (The film's darker, alternate ending is better than the theatrical version.)
A small crew of scientists must save the earth by detonating a nuclear bomb to reignite the dying sun. A previous mission failed: Can this one work? Danny Boyle directed this eerie, underrated sci-fi flick from a script by Alex Garland, who'd go on to write and direct "Ex Machina" and "Annihilation."
Duncan Jones made his directorial debut with this trippy film that pays quasi tribute to dad David Bowie's "Major Tom." Sam Rockwell stars as a man nearing the end of his three-year solo mission on the moon. We won't spoil the twist if you haven't seen it (and you should), but it's very Rod Serling.
Not enough love out there for this cult flick (also based on a Philip K. Dick story) about self-replicating AI machines called "screamers." These nasty metal things hunt down and kill the humans left on an abandoned planet. "RoboCop's" Peter Weller stars. Fans of "Alien," "The Terminator," or "The Thing" shouldn't miss it.
This haunting image of a beheaded Statue of Liberty is right up there with the final shot in the original "Planet of the Apes." A rampaging monster destroys New York in this hand-held, you-are-there found footage disaster film. There's no emergency preparedness for that.
"Arrival" wasn't Denis Villeneuve's first foray into science-fiction: In this little-seen film, Jake Gyllenhaal is a professor who spots his exact double in a movie, then tracks him down. If that's not bizarre enough, what do his dreams of a giant spider mean?
'Take Shelter' (2011)
Curtis LaForche (Michael Shannon) is an ordinary Ohio man, until he begins having visions of a coming apocalypse. Is it all in his head or is the danger real? From writer-director Jeff Nichols, of "Midnight Special" and the upcoming "Alien Nation" remake.
'Kill List' (2011)
A former soldier is invited by an old friend to join him as a contract killer. The first target is a priest -- and things only get stranger and more hellish from there. A deeply disturbing folk horror film that will shake you to the core.