Four visionary directors retell some of Rod Serling's
classic tales of suspense with a modern twist.
Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)
Directed by John Landis, Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante,
Written by John Landis, George Clayton Johnson,
Starring Dan Aykroyd, Albert Brooks, Vic Morrow, Scatman Crothers, Kathleen Quinlan, Jeremy Licht, Kevin McCarthy,
Patricia Barry, Nancy Cartwright, William Schallert,
John Lithgow, Abbe Lane, Donna Dixon, Burgess Meredith
Based on the 1959-1964 TV series
There's a lot of stigma surrounding this film and its since become controversial due to a horrible tragedy. I think it's finally time to revisit Twilight Zone: The Movie and give it the chance it never got upon release. It's not a remake per se. It's more of a celebration of Rod Serling's work on The Twilight Zone and these four directors all do their very best to bring some of those stories to life in their own way. Some are better than others, but overall this film does justice to one of the biggest cult TV shows of all time.
The prologue sees Dan Aykroyd and Albert Brooks driving through the darkness, talking about old TV shows. Unsurprisingly, they get talking about The Twilight Zone and things that are scary. When Aykroyd asks Brooks the now terrifying question, "Do you wanna see something really scary?", the audience doesn't know what to expect. Aykroyd turns around and morphs into a werewolf monster creature and eats Brooks! Cue opening credits. It is, by far, the most horrifying opening sequence of all time, and it sets the tone for a great anthology series.
Segment #1 sees Vic Morrow's racist businessman Larry transported through various times in history under the guise of a minority he insulted. First, he's a Jew in Nazi Germany, than a black man being lynched by the KKK, and finally a Vietnamese soldier fighting Americans in the war. While this story is done very well, it's unfortunately overshadowed by the tragic deaths of Morrow and two children during the production.
Segment #2 is a little dull, as it sees Spielberg adapt "Kick the Can," which sees a group of old folks get a chance to be kids again. It's awfully sentimental and on its own, it would be alright. It just doesn't fit the tone of the rest of the movie. Segment #3 is similar in that respect, as it has its moments, but is way too goofy. It's about a kid with psychic powers who terrorizes his family with real-life cartoons. It's creepy, but also ridiculous at the same time.
Then we come to Segment #4, George Miller's adaptation of the classic episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet," which sees John Lithgow battling a Gremlin and his own sanity on an airplane in a storm. This segment was by far the best one, as it was absolutely terrifying. The pulsing score, Lithgow's intense performance, all of it was perfect. I wish the rest of the shorts had been like this. It's sad that this film has become ignored by the film community because of the accident, as it has a lot to offer horror fans and is a decent adaptation of some of horror TV's most thrilling stories.