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I'll kick this review off with -- this is one of the best horror films ever made, and the best horror collection ever made. Forget "Creepshow" and forget "Tales From the Darkside". This is where it's at. Currently unavailable on DVD, everyone needs to make as much noise as possible to make sure this classic finds its way to the shelves very, very soon. I watch it every time it comes on television and I have it on VHS to watch at my discretion, but I yearn for it on DVD. I want some extra features. I want some commentary with all four of these directors. I want some deleted scenes. This was the "Grindhouse" experience for science fiction/horror fans, back before we even knew what this kind of experience was. "Twilight Zone" owns my ass, and it should own yours as well.
Directed by John Landis, who doesn't remember Albert Brooks and Dany Aykroyd driving down a dark and desolate highway, singing Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Midnight Special"? Then, Brooks pulls the car over and asks Akyroyd's character -- "You wanna see something really scary?" Thus begins the film and the whole of the experience. Totally memorable. Totally unexpected. Brilliantly cast.
Directed By John Landis
This is the most infamous chapter of the "Twilight Zone" films. Vic Morrow stars as Bill Connor, a man who is just plain mad. He can't stand that foreigners are taking American jobs and he can't stand that people are getting their promotions over him. All of this erupts in a long stream of racism and prejudice that turn his face red and insight more than some dirty looks from those around him. When he steps out of the bar, he doesn't find himself back on a familiar street -- he's in Nazi Germany. Not only that -- he's Jewish. Before too long, he's Vietnamese and running from American soldiers, and then he's African-American and watching a KKK rally. The film shows how a man's prejudices come back to haunt him. The segment, as a whole, was marred during the tragic accident that took Vic Morrow's life and the lives of two young children. During a scene involving a helicopter, director Landis kept shouting for the helicopter to go lower and lower, when something went wrong and the helicopter crashed, killing Morrow and the two children. A legal battle followed, with the families blaming Landis, permanently doing damaging to his career and ending his friendship with director Steven Spielberg.
Directed By Joe Dante
Kathleen Quinlan stars as Helen Foley, a woman who is on her way cross country when she runs into a little boy named Anthony (Jeremy Licht). Anthony is accidentally hit by Helen's car and he has her take him home to meet his family, which she does. What she finds is more than a little bizarre, with Anthony's entire family seemingly paralyzed with fear over what Anthony will do to them. Helen soon learns that Anthony can control just about anything with his mind and can make nightmarish things happen, but all in a very ACME, very Looney Toons sort of way. Helen tries to escape the best she can, but then realizes that Anthony isn't going to let her escape and that she's going to have to stay and be his friend...forever. This is, in my opinion, the worst of the four segments, but it is still damned entertaining. The family, especially Kevin McCarthy as Uncle Walt, all do very commendable jobs of making this material work. Dante's direction is all over the place, but I think his heart was in the right place. Very visual and very creative, but not much substance here, just fun.
Directed By Steven Spielberg
This is a film about youth -- about appreciating who you are, not how old you are. "Kick the Can" is the name of this one, and it's about a man -- Mr. Bloom (Scatman Crothers) -- who comes to stay at an old age home, where everyone is tired...and slow...and confined to their routines. There is one man who always waits on his soon to come and take him out for the day, but he never does. These are people at the end of their lives, abandoned by their loved ones and forced into their lives of sameness. When Mr. Bloom arrives, he shakes things up and starts showing the residents that they have more to offer. One night, as everyone sneaks out for a rebellious game of 'kick the can', the old men and women start turning into children again, revealing that Mr. Bloom has a little more magic to him that originally thought. The children run and dance and sing and play and have a great time, until they realize that their lives as old people really weren't so bad at all. Spielberg's entry into the film is certainly the sweetest, the most powerful, and the most imaginative. It's not a horror film so much as a drama with some fantastical elements. It has the trademark Spielberg feel to it, and I wish that he had turned this into a feature length film, because there's much more material to explore.
Directed By George Miller
This is the one that everyone remembers. A remake of "Nightmare At 20,000 Feet", which starred William Shatner. This ones stars John Lithgow as a man on a commuter jet, afraid of heights, and unable to relax and enjoy the ride. Just when he starts to calm down, he looks out his window and sees...some thing...on the wing of the plane. At first, he thinks it's a man and goes into a panic, sending the other passengers into the same panic. Soon, however, he realizes it isn't a man at all, but a long haired, fang toothed, green little goblin that is causing significant damage to the wing. The more and more the crew of the plane try to calm him down, the more and more things spiral out of control. What makes this segment so frightening is Lithgow's reactions to what he is seeing. The best scene is when Lithgow crashes the window open and sticks his head out, and we watch as this creature skips along the wing and up to the window, face to face with Lithgow. The music is also a key factor in the success. The unmistakable score is so strong and so on target -- it has the same kind of effect that the score in "Halloween" had. What a great way to finish out the film.
So, there you go -- "Twilight Zone: The Movie" is a real gem. It's one my fondest memories from the 1980's and I can't wait to own it on DVD. I am assuming that most of you have seen it, but if you haven't, you owe it to yourself to see four powerhouse directors of the day match skills and wits with material that you might not normally see them tackle so recklessly. Love, love, loved this film. 10/10.
- added 04/20/2007, 10:26 PM
Certainly the best of the "anthology" sub-genre.
This actual provided me with quite a good scare
when I was little, I remember te opening sequence
oh to well... holy shit that was freaky...
- added 10/21/2007, 07:03 AM
Opening sequence - excellent, no complaints
Segment #1 - A good story, but
adding something more to the ending would have
been nice. 5/10.
Segment #2 (Steven
Spielberg's entry, which is labeled as Segment #3
above) - This one felt completely out of place
here, but I could have lived with that had it at
least featured an interesting story. Bleh.
Segment #3 (Joe Dante's entry,
which is labeled as Segment #2 above) - Decent,
but nothing particularly great. 4/10.
Segment #4 - Yes, this is the one that everyone
remembers, mainly because it's far and away the
best of the bunch. 8/10.
definitely wasn't as good as I remember it
being... these scores round out to a 4.5, but I'll
tack on an extra point for the opener. So, 5.5/10
would be my final rating.
- added 10/22/2007, 04:38 PM
Wow. The reason SEGMENT 1 didn't have more added
on was probably because of Vic Morrow being
killed. I think they ended up having to hack that
one to pieces for that reason, which is why it
seems a little rushed and not very satisfying at
the end. SEGMENT 2 is my favorite I think. It is
of a different tone than the rest of the film, but
they're all different in tone. Spielberg's is
more whimsical, but a lot of people probably
forget that not all of the "Twilight Zone"
episodes were of a creepy nature -- some were
dramatic and some were uplifting, which is what I
think Spielberg capitalized on. SEGMENT 3 is my
least favorite because I just didn't get that
wrapped up in it, but it's definitely vintage Joe
Dante. SEGMENT 4 rocks for numerous reasons, but
primarily the Jerry Goldsmith score and the
absurdity of John Lithgow's performance. My
favorite is the opening sequence with Brooks and
Aykroyd. Just perfect.
- added 10/23/2007, 01:04 AM
I was actually reading up on that segment before
I commented on it, as I really didn't want to
sound like an insensitive bastard about the whole
situation. What I found is that the segment you
see on the DVD is basically the segment that John
Landis originally envisioned - the studio
executives asked him to insert some sort of
"redemption" scene in there to close it on a
lighter note, and this decision led to the
helicopter scene which cost Morrow his life.
Parts of the original script were removed and
never filmed (leading to the Germany scene being
split to give some sort of an ending after his
death), but save for some minor character-building
scenes, what you see on film is basically the
original story that Landis intended.
- added 01/17/2008, 08:23 PM
I'm going to agree with Chad's rating on each
individual section, as I feel exactly the same way
about all the sections. This movie was
disappointing, to say the least. It's too bad that
with all these talented directors, they couldn't
have created something a little more entertaining.