TV show: The Ray Bradbury Theater (HBO)
Air date: June 4, 1985
Streaming on Netflix?: No
The late Ray Bradbury was a literary titan, a major influence on writers like Stephen King, and a diverse storyteller able to work magic in science fiction, fantasy, and horror. "The Playground," made into a terrifically nerve-rattling episode of his anthology TV series The Ray Bradbury Theater, holds up as Bradbury's scariest contribution to horror fans' nightmares.
William Shatner plays Charles Underhill, a single dad who refuses to let his young son hang out in the local playground, due to the childhood traumas Charles experienced at the hands of a bully named Ralph and his friends. Charles is so messed up by his past, in fact, that he keeps seeing Ralph's ghost, until one day when he finally mans up, heads to the playground, and confronts his demons. Too bad for him, though, those demons don't like happy endings.
The episode's director, William Fruet, fortunately, loves psychological terror, keeping the dread on high alert until the episode's surreal and oppressively downbeat climax.