Nearly 20 years after the classic TV show The Twilight Zone made it's farewell to the television airwaves, a handful of directors that grew up and were greatly inspired by the show decided to band together and give the show a grand, big budget motion picture tribute by remaking three stories and making one new one. The result, typical with anthology horror films, is a real mixed batch that almost completely self destructs before getting back on track.
The first story directed John Landis (not including the wrap around) is about a raciest (Vic Morrow in his final film role) getting taught a lesson by getting transported through time to World War II, the South in the early 60's and the Vietnam War. The second story directed by Steven Spielberg is about a mysterious stranger visiting an old folks home that has the ability to make its residents feel young again. The third story directed by Joe Dante is about a school teacher that takes a young boy home only to find out he has the ability to make his wishes come true and uses his wishes to hold people prisoner. The fourth and best directed by George Miller is about an airline passenger that keep seeing some sort of creature on the wing of the plane.
The first story is rather hum drum and it's more famous for the disastrous helicopter accident on set that killed actor Vic Morrow and two young children. An angry man that gets taught a lesson is just another variation on the "Christmas Carol" Ebenezer Scrooge theme. The second story is a complete bore and it's amazing that director Steven Spielberg decided to direct the most uninteresting story. After the second story I almost all but gave up on the film but thankfully director Joe Dante (one of my favs) saves the day with his cartoony segment. This segment is just so surreal and Dante's humor and love for cartoons are evident everywhere. Though a goods segment, Geoge Miller's next story takes the cake as the best of the quartet. His stylish, dark direction complimented by a great paranoid performance by John Lithgow. This remake of the classic episode starring William Shanter out does it, especially since the monster is a grotesque gargoyle-like creature as opposed to a teddy bear looking guy-in-a-suit.
I always found it ironic that the two least known of the directors made the two best segments and it's just a shame that people have to patiently wait through the first two stories in order for the movie to finally get good. If they were going to take the time to make a big budget movie based on the famous TV series then why wouldn't they make sure to pick some of the strongest stories to remake? 2 out of 4 just isn't a good average for an anthology horror film. Overall I feel Twilight Zone: The Movie was a missed opportunity as only half of it is really good. Audiences seemed to have had the same reaction as the film didn't rock the box office. It still did well enough for an 80's revamp of the TV series which in turn became a flop.
Written By Eric Reifschneider
Twilight Zone: The Movie Trailer
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