Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)
February 13, 2023 9:00 AM - Subscribe

[TRAILER] This tribute to the beloved supernatural TV show has four segments, three of which are remakes of episodes from the series, and one is original for the film. Directors John Landis, Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante, and George Miller each helm a segment.

Starring Dan Aykroyd, Albert Brooks, Scatman Crothers, John Lithgow, Vic Morrow, Kathleen Quinlan, Charles Hallahan, Doug McGrath, Murray Matheson, Bill Quinn, Helen Shaw, Selma Diamond, Peter Brocco, Martin Garner, Priscilla Pointer, Tanya Fenmore, Laura Mooney, Evan Richards, Nancy Cartwright, Dick Miller, Bill Mumy, John Larroquette, Cherie Currie.

Screenplay by John Landis, George Clayton Johnson, Richard Matheson, Melissa Mathison. Story by John Landis, George Clayton Johnson, Jerome Bixby, Richard Matheson. Based on The Twilight Zone by Rod Serling. Produced by Steven Spielberg, John Landis. Narrated by Burgess Meredith, Rod Serling. Cinematography by Allen Daviau, John Hora, Stevan Larner. Edited by Malcolm Campbell, Tina Hirsch, Michael Kahn, Howard E. Smith. Music by Jerry Goldsmith.

59% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently streaming in the US on HBO Max and Kanopy. Also available for digital rental. JustWatch listing.
posted by DirtyOldTown (8 comments total)
I kind of want to rewatch this, but having been subjected to the footage of the shooting accident and deaths (I think via a Faces of Death compilation), I don't know that I could approach the film without feeling haunted.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:16 AM on February 13, 2023 [2 favorites]

The soundtrack is another triumph for Jerry Goldsmith.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 4:18 AM on February 14, 2023

I watched this a few weeks ago; I remember seeing parts of it on late night TV when I was a kid, but I don't think I'd ever seen all of it until now. I don't know how to say this, but I do understand why the scene with Vic Morrow rescuing the kids was introduced late into the filming stage, because had it been...uhh...finished, it probably would have made the segment. The segment in the film does not include the kids, for reasons that go without saying, and it ends on a weird dark note that leaves Morrow's character no wiser than he was at the beginning. It feels like a hollow, pointless exercise.

Spielberg's segment is, I think, not as awful as its reputation, but pretty fucking schmaltzy, although Scatman Crothers is great if you can shake the uncomfortable feeling you get from any '80s movie where a kindly Black man is tasked with bringing joy to the hearts of a bunch of privileged white people. Someone on Letterboxd describes this segment against a crime against humanity, which I feel is a bit strong considering its placement next to one that actually got children murdered. It's probably about as close as Spielberg ever got to self-parody, though.

I don't love the "It's a Good Life!" segment, but it does really move, and Dante keeps the weirdness coming. It would be an interesting pairing with Skinamarink...

George Miller's segment is easily the highlight, and would probably be the main reason people remembered this movie four decades later, if not for the, uhh, the other thing...
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:33 AM on February 14, 2023

Yeah George Miller's is the only one that I remembered any details of, thanks to John Lithgow's performance (and also having seen William Shatner's also strong original a whole lot of times). After reading the plot summary, I vaguely recall the others, but none of those even approach the original versions in my memory.
posted by Pryde at 10:25 AM on February 14, 2023

Yeah, but do you wanna see something really scary?
posted by Servo5678 at 11:09 AM on February 14, 2023 [8 favorites]

The last "Nightmare at 20000 feet" TERRIFIED me when I was a little kid, as did Dan Aykroyd in the opening & closing bits. The "Kick the Can" and "It's a Good Life" segments are not bad, but not great -- kittens for breakfast covers my thoughts pretty well.

That first segment... it's a rough one on its own, even without the real-life tragedy accompanying it. It's like one of those really depressing TZ episodes, like Burgess Meredith crying about his broken glasses.

Fucking John Landis. If I ever meet him, I'll be sorely tempted to slap him across his criminally irresponsible face. I've seen the footage and read about his cavalier attitude on set (which seems to have infected several others involved in filming that scene), and Jesus Fucking Christ, that guy should not have been allowed to go on making movies, even if he went on to make some great comedies. I'd gladly give up a million Trading Places's and Coming to America's for the lives of the two children he ended.
posted by Saxon Kane at 1:17 PM on February 14, 2023 [4 favorites]

Oh and get this:
Landis spoke about the accident in a 1996 interview: "There was absolutely no good aspect about this whole story. The tragedy, which I think about every day, had an enormous impact on my career, from which I may possibly never recover."

posted by Saxon Kane at 1:20 PM on February 14, 2023 [6 favorites]

I ended up going down a rabbit hole of film and television accidents, and found this little tidbit of information on Wikipedia:

"From 1980 to 1990, there were 37 deaths relating to accidents during stunts; 24 of these deaths involved the use of helicopters."

So I think the lesson here is DO NOT USE A HELICOPTER IN YOUR MOVIE!
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:53 AM on February 15, 2023 [1 favorite]

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