Twilight Zone--The Movie


1h 42m 1983

Brief Synopsis

Four separate stories in one movie. First a racist businessman gets the tables turned on him when he is transported back in time to being persued by Nazis in 1940s France, becomes an African-American at a KKK rally in the 1950s South, and and then a Vietnamese in 1960s Vietnam. The second story centers around an old man who makes the wishes of residents at a retirement home come true when he transforms them into youthful versions of themselves. In the third story a young woman on the road gives a ride to a little boy and ends up trapped with other people in an alternate reality created by the boy's imagination. And in the final story a man on a plane sees, but cannot convince anyone else that a mysterious creature is on the outside wing of the plane trying to sabotage the aircraft.

Film Details

Also Known As
En los límites de la realidad, Twilight Zone - the Movie, Twilight zone - på gränsen till det okända, quatrième dimension - le film
MPAA Rating
Genre
Horror
Thriller
Adaptation
Sci-Fi
Release Date
1983

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 42m

Synopsis

Four separate stories in one movie. First a racist businessman gets the tables turned on him when he is transported back in time to being persued by Nazis in 1940s France, becomes an African-American at a KKK rally in the 1950s South, and and then a Vietnamese in 1960s Vietnam. The second story centers around an old man who makes the wishes of residents at a retirement home come true when he transforms them into youthful versions of themselves. In the third story a young woman on the road gives a ride to a little boy and ends up trapped with other people in an alternate reality created by the boy's imagination. And in the final story a man on a plane sees, but cannot convince anyone else that a mysterious creature is on the outside wing of the plane trying to sabotage the aircraft.

Crew

David Allen

Visual Effects

Dan Allingham

Production Manager

James M Anderson

Camera Operator

Dan Attias

Assistant Director

James D. Bissell

Production Designer

Jerome Bixby

Story By

Jerome Bixby

From Story

Rick Borchardt

Key Grip

Bruce Botnick

Sound

Rob Bottin

Special Makeup Effects

Garrett Brown

Steadicam Operator

Malcolm Campbell

Editor

Jackie J Carr

Set Decorator

Rosalyn Catania

Other

Thomas Causey

Sound

Elie Cohn

Assistant Director

Sam Cornell

Animator

Bill Couch

Stunt Coordinator

Allen Daviau

Dp/Cinematographer

Allen Daviau

Director Of Photography

Jon Davison

Associate Producer

Jill Demby

Assistant Editor

Peter Donen

Titles

Jane Feinberg

Casting

Mike Fenton

Casting

Robert Fernandez

Sound

Michael Finnell

Associate Producer

John Fogerty

Song

George Fosey

Associate Producer

Rocco Gioffre

Matte Painter

Jerry Goldsmith

Music

Kenneth Hall

Music Editor

Warren Hamilton

Sound Effects Editor

Duane Hartzell

Sound Effects Editor

Tina Hirsch

Editor

John Hora

Director Of Photography

John Hora

Dp/Cinematographer

Dream Quest Images

Matte Painter

George Clayton Johnson

Screenplay

George Clayton Johnson

Other

Dennis E Jones

Production Manager

Michael Kahn

Editor

William B. Kaplan

Sound

Mark Kausler

Researcher

Gene Kearney

Key Grip

Gina Kearns

Hair

Pat Kehoe

Assistant Director

Steven Kemper

Assistant Editor

Kathleen Kennedy

Associate Producer

Barbara Krieger

Set Decorator

Peter Kuran

Visual Effects

Gregg Landaker

Sound

John Landis

Screenplay

John Landis

Producer

Stevan Larner

Dp/Cinematographer

Stevan Larner

Director Of Photography

Melanie Levitt

Makeup

Marci Liroff

Casting

Frank Marshall

Executive Producer

Steve Maslow

Sound

Richard B. Matheson

Screenplay

Richard B. Matheson

Story By

Richard B. Matheson

From Story

Michael Mccracken

Special Makeup Effects

Gary Mclarty

Stunt Coordinator

William Meshover

Assistant Editor

Michael Milgrom

Props

Dan Moore

Costume Designer

Renard Morgan

Photography

Arthur Morton

Original Music

Deborah Nadoolman

Costume Designer

Ralph Nelson

Photography

Cynthia Nigh

Other

Itzhak Perlman

Music

Mark Peterson

Titles

Ellen Powell

Hair

Craig Raiche

Props

Craig Reardon

Special Makeup Effects

Arnold Rich

Camera Operator

Randall Robinson

Assistant Camera

Josh Rogan

Screenplay

Cherie Ruff

Hair

Richard Sawyer

Art Director

Deborah Scott

Costume Designer

Carol Serling

Consultant

Rod Serling

Other

Howard E. Smith

Editor

Alan Smithee

Assistant Director

James Spencer

Art Director

Steven Spielberg

Executive Producer

Zach Staenberg

Assistant Editor

Paul H Stewart

Special Effects

David Stone

Sound Effects Editor

William J Teegarden

Set Designer

John Toll

Camera Operator

Bill Varney

Sound

Edward S Verreaux

Other

Miriam Weeks

Assistant Editor

Bob Westmoreland

Makeup

Mike Wood

Special Effects Supervisor

Katherine Wooten

Script Supervisor

David Lewis Yewdall

Sound Editor

Film Details

Also Known As
En los límites de la realidad, Twilight Zone - the Movie, Twilight zone - på gränsen till det okända, quatrième dimension - le film
MPAA Rating
Genre
Horror
Thriller
Adaptation
Sci-Fi
Release Date
1983

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 42m

Articles

Twilight Zone - The Movie


In 1982, riding high on the record-breaking success of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Steven Spielberg teamed with director John Landis (Animal House, The Blues Brothers) to produce a motion picture tribute to Rod Serling's classic 1959 – 1964 television anthology series The Twilight Zone. Only moderately popular during its original network run, the critically acclaimed and Emmy Award-winning show became a pop culture phenomenon when reruns began airing in syndication. Millions of kids grew up mesmerized by its thoughtfully-written tales, often with a memorable twist ending, of ordinary people plunged into bizarre situations. The original concept for the film was for Landis and Spielberg to direct original stories written in the Twilight Zone tradition, with Joe Dante, who had recently directed the clever and stylish werewolf hit The Howling, helming a remake of a classic episode. Late in development Spielberg abandoned his original story and opted to do a remake, and George Miller, director of the apocalyptic science fiction action films Mad Max and The Road Warrior, was brought on board to direct a fourth segment, also a remake. With this impressive lineup of directorial talent and the public's affection for the original series, Twilight Zone-the Movie sounded like it was destined to be a sure-fire hit.

Everything changed early in the morning of July 23, 1982, when a horrifying accident on the set of the John Landis segment caused the deaths of actor Vic Morrow and two child performers. The tragedy and subsequent trial cast a pall over the film it has never been able to fully escape; the film's reviews were mixed at best, and boxoffice performance was disappointing. In spite of the uneven quality of the stories, the film has many interesting elements and has earned a following over the years. For those fans, Warner Home Video's new release of Twilight Zone-the Movie on DVD, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD is welcome news.

The film opens with a funny prologue written and directed by Landis and starring Albert Brooks and Dan Aykroyd as two guys who pass the time during a lonely drive by humming TV theme songs and reminiscing about The Twilight Zone. ("You wanna see something really scary?") After a re-creation of the show's 4th & 5th season credit sequence ("You open this door with the key of imagination ...") narrated by four-time Zone guest star Burgess Meredith, the film proper begins with the ill-fated John Landis segment. Vic Morrow stars as Bill Connor, an angry, bitter man who complains to his drinking buddies one night that all his problems are caused by minorities. Leaving the bar, Connor is astonished to suddenly find himself in Nazi Germany, pursued by suspicious Gestapo agents. He is just as abruptly transported to the American South, where Ku Klux Klansmen try to lynch him, and then to Viet Nam during the war, where trigger-happy American G.I.s shoot at anything that moves.

Rod Serling frequently dealt with prejudice on The Twilight Zone. His writing on the topic was at times heavy-handed and didactic, but it was always infused with sincere passion. By contrast, Landis' writing here is simply clumsy and amateurish, with nothing intelligent or insightful to say about bigotry. He introduces an unsympathetic, one dimensional character, shoves him into a series of dull action scenes that merely disorient him and then gives him a cruel fate. It was common for characters on The Twilight Zone to get ironic punishments for their sins, but Connor is simply a loud-mouthed jerk who says vile things, and his penalty is grossly disproportionate. At the time of the accident Landis was reportedly working on a revised ending that would have allowed the Connor character to redeem himself by rescuing two Vietnamese children, but what sort of message would this have conveyed? Bigots can be reformed by being chased around and shot at? Except for a few clever transitions, Landis brings little visual style to the story. Vic Morrow looks tired and is unable to flesh out his part; knowing that this job led to his death makes his performance and the entire segment depressing.

Steven Spielberg's segment follows. Originally, Spielberg concocted a story about a video game-loving bully who gets a nasty comeuppance, and had series veteran Richard Matheson write a script. (According to Matheson, it ended with an image "like something out of Hieronymous Bosch.") Officially the story was abandoned because of budget concerns, but one can't help but wonder if Spielberg had second thoughts about following the family-friendly E.T with a dark, scary story. The director chose instead to remake the George Clayton Johnson-scripted episode "Kick the Can." Johnson suggested a new ending, Richard Matheson wrote the screenplay and E.T. screenwriter Melissa Mathison did a rewrite under the pseudonym "Josh Rogan." In the new version, the elderly residents of Sunnyvale Rest Home, under the leadership of new arrival Mr. Bloom (Scatman Crothers), discover that the childhood game Kick the Can holds the secret to recapturing their youth-but a second childhood may not be what they truly need.

As with the Landis story, poor writing sinks the segment, as simplistic dramatics are used to offer up a simplistic philosophy. In the original, the protagonist, Mr. Whitley, was a longtime resident of Sunnyvale, integrated into the social fabric of the place, who had to work to discover the magic of Kick the Can. In the remake, the not-very-subtly-named Mr. Bloom is a deus ex machina and mouthpiece for the Author's Message (he even talks directly to the audience at one point), an outsider who comes along, works his magic, dispenses his wisdom and leaves. Whitley was opposed in the TV version by his best friend, Mr. Conroy, who was grim and fatalistic but motivated by genuine concern for his pal's well-being; in the remake Conroy (Bill Quinn) is just an old sourpuss whom no one likes or takes seriously. All the other elderly characters in the Spielberg version are cute and loveable-so much so that they hardly seem to need Mr. Bloom's message; they come across as reasonably content and well-adjusted already. The remake's script pays lip service to the sense of loss that can come with aging but glosses over it in a line or two, and never mentions Alzheimer's Disease, diabetes, prostate cancer, glaucoma or the other ailments common to the elderly. The film's dismissal of the real emotional and physical pains of the aging with a glib "smile and think happy thoughts" message ultimately comes across as painfully superficial and insulting to senior citizens.

The segment isn't a total loss, thanks mostly to some good work by the cast. Scatman Crothers is as charming as can be as Mr. Bloom, although his work would have benefited from a little less charm and a little more emotional gravity. Murray Matheson, who gave a memorable performance as a philosophical clown in the classic original series episode "Five Characters in Search of an Exit", makes a welcome return visit to the Twilight Zone as the courtly Mr. Agee; Martin Gerner, Selma Diamond, Helen Shaw and Peter Brocco all offer fine support as his fellow Sunnyvale residents. Among the child actors playing the young incarnations of the senior citizens, Tanya Fenmore is a standout with her amusing impression of Selma Diamond's whiney voice and attitude. Spielberg, who started his career directing a Rod Serling script for the Night Gallery pilot movie, fumbles by giving the story a sugary-sweet tone, but does manage to bring some visual flare and polish to the piece.

After two disappointing stories in a row, Twilight Zone-the Movie finally starts to redeem itself with the third segment, Joe Dante's inspired remake of "It's a Good Life." The original version was a faithful adaptation by Serling of a Jerome Bixby short story about a young boy who terrorizes his home town with his seemingly god-like powers. Dante and screenwriter Richard Matheson decided to give the concept a fresh interpretation. In their updated version, schoolteacher Helen Foley (Kathleen Quinlan) meets a young boy, Anthony (Jeremy Licht), while traveling to a new job. Taking the boy home, she meets his peculiar family, all of whom appear unnaturally cheerful and desperate to please little Anthony. Gradually, Helen realizes that the family is concealing the terrifying truth about the innocent-looking boy ...

One of Dante and Matheson's most ingenious choices for the remake is to show not only the terror Anthony's "family" lives in because of his awesome power, but also the sheer misery they experience as adults forced to live in a world built around a child's tastes and whims. Junk food is served at every meal, cartoons play endlessly on television, and favorite games and rituals are repeated over and over. Anthony is the ultimate spoiled brat whom everyone indulges for fear of his temper tantrums. Dante mines the situation for a lot of humor, but doesn't sacrifice the scares; there's a great funny/suspenseful sequence in which Anthony's "Uncle Walt" is asked to reach into a magic hat, and the expression of sickly dread on his face tells the viewer that he has no idea what he's going to find in there. The cast does an excellent job bringing out the humor in their characters' barely-suppressed anxiety and frayed nerves. Familiar TV character actor William Schallert is perfectly cast as "Father", as if Anthony saw him in a rerun of The Patty Duke Show and wished him out of the television and into his living room. Patricia Barry complements him well as "Mother", and Invasion of the Body Snatchers star Kevin McCarthy steals the show with his delightful turn as Uncle Walt. Nancy Cartwright, famous now as the voice of Bart Simpson, does fine work as Anthony's "sister" Ethel before meeting a fate that, considering her later career, is decidedly ironic.

The episode is packed with more imaginative touches than most feature-length films. A lifelong animation buff, Dante makes Anthony a fan as well, and the nonstop cartoons playing in the background often provide counterpoint to the live action in the foreground. The art direction for Anthony's house makes it appear influenced by the cartoons he watches, with the downstairs furniture and décor all looking simple, unfinished and generic, while the black-and-white upstairs looks like an M.C. Escher etching interpreted by the Max Fleischer animation team. Rob Bottin, who created the werewolves for Dante's The Howling, crafts some bizarre, Ed Roth-inspired monsters conjured up by Anthony. Not all of them feel like they really belong in the film, but they are definitely unique. As is his usual practice, Dante peppers the segment with cameos and inside references: look for appearances by Dante regular Dick Miller, original Twilight Zone producer Buck Houghton and original "It's a Good Life" star Billy Mumy, and listen for mentions of towns featured in the series.

Unfortunately, Dante and Matheson were unable to devise a satisfying ending. (NOTE: Some spoilers from here to end of paragraph.) Neither wished to go for the obvious, clichéd "dark" ending, but the nature of the story and Anthony's character are such that any other resolution feels artificially grafted on. We may believe in Anthony's desire to change, but since he is ruled by his impulses and is immune to discipline, we're skeptical about his ability to exercise self-restraint for an extended period. Ultimately, the segment feels like an entertaining joke that fizzles at the punch line.

George Miller ends the film on a high note with his terrific remake of "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet." It's not merely the best segment in the movie; it may be the best segment in any fantasy/horror anthology ever. The television version, a favorite of many fans, was scripted by Richard Matheson from his own short story and directed by a young Richard Donner; William Shatner starred as an airline passenger unable to convince the crew that a strange creature is tampering with their engines. Miller's version (also scripted by Matheson) is faithful to the original, but adds a generous dose of humor and the high-adrenaline visual style that the director brought to his Mad Max films. Miller's camera swoops, bobs and tilts to create a simulation of a plane caught in heavy turbulence vivid enough to give any viewers who are nervous fliers white knuckles. John Lithgow is brilliant as the terrified lead character, Mr. Valentine; his performance starts with an anxiety attack and builds to total hysteria. Miller's editing and framing works with Lithgow's acting to convey Valentine's nervous energy and sense of claustrophobia-he's not only confined in a narrow aircraft, he's also surrounded on all sides by unsympathetic fellow passengers convinced that he's a nut. The creature, created by makeup artists Craig Reardon and Michael McCracken and played by Larry Cedar, is a big improvement over the crude original, a gleefully malevolent beast that seems to delight in its life-threatening mischief. Composer Jerry Goldsmith, another veteran of the original series, provides excellent scores for all four segments, but his work here is especially memorable, with music that both mirrors and mocks Valentine's terror. For many fans, Twilight Zone-the Movie is worth buying on the strength of "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" alone.

Warner Home Video's DVD of Twilight Zone-the Movie sports an excellent 16 x 9 enhanced widescreen transfer. (Note: This reviewer only had the opportunity to watch the standard-def release.) The transfer allows one to fully appreciate the bright, cartoon-like primary colors in the Dante segment, and catch details in the brief glimpses of the monster in "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet." The English 5.1 and stereo tracks are also superb, and will be particularly enjoyed by fans of Goldsmith's score. The only extra is a bleary teaser trailer. The cover art is stunningly bland and well below Warner's usual standards.

Recommended for confirmed fans for the film; others may wish to rent first.

For more information about Twilight Zone-The Movie, visit Warner Video. To order Twilight Zone-The Movie, go to TCM Shopping.

by Gary Teetzel
Twilight Zone - The Movie

Twilight Zone - The Movie

In 1982, riding high on the record-breaking success of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Steven Spielberg teamed with director John Landis (Animal House, The Blues Brothers) to produce a motion picture tribute to Rod Serling's classic 1959 – 1964 television anthology series The Twilight Zone. Only moderately popular during its original network run, the critically acclaimed and Emmy Award-winning show became a pop culture phenomenon when reruns began airing in syndication. Millions of kids grew up mesmerized by its thoughtfully-written tales, often with a memorable twist ending, of ordinary people plunged into bizarre situations. The original concept for the film was for Landis and Spielberg to direct original stories written in the Twilight Zone tradition, with Joe Dante, who had recently directed the clever and stylish werewolf hit The Howling, helming a remake of a classic episode. Late in development Spielberg abandoned his original story and opted to do a remake, and George Miller, director of the apocalyptic science fiction action films Mad Max and The Road Warrior, was brought on board to direct a fourth segment, also a remake. With this impressive lineup of directorial talent and the public's affection for the original series, Twilight Zone-the Movie sounded like it was destined to be a sure-fire hit. Everything changed early in the morning of July 23, 1982, when a horrifying accident on the set of the John Landis segment caused the deaths of actor Vic Morrow and two child performers. The tragedy and subsequent trial cast a pall over the film it has never been able to fully escape; the film's reviews were mixed at best, and boxoffice performance was disappointing. In spite of the uneven quality of the stories, the film has many interesting elements and has earned a following over the years. For those fans, Warner Home Video's new release of Twilight Zone-the Movie on DVD, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD is welcome news. The film opens with a funny prologue written and directed by Landis and starring Albert Brooks and Dan Aykroyd as two guys who pass the time during a lonely drive by humming TV theme songs and reminiscing about The Twilight Zone. ("You wanna see something really scary?") After a re-creation of the show's 4th & 5th season credit sequence ("You open this door with the key of imagination ...") narrated by four-time Zone guest star Burgess Meredith, the film proper begins with the ill-fated John Landis segment. Vic Morrow stars as Bill Connor, an angry, bitter man who complains to his drinking buddies one night that all his problems are caused by minorities. Leaving the bar, Connor is astonished to suddenly find himself in Nazi Germany, pursued by suspicious Gestapo agents. He is just as abruptly transported to the American South, where Ku Klux Klansmen try to lynch him, and then to Viet Nam during the war, where trigger-happy American G.I.s shoot at anything that moves. Rod Serling frequently dealt with prejudice on The Twilight Zone. His writing on the topic was at times heavy-handed and didactic, but it was always infused with sincere passion. By contrast, Landis' writing here is simply clumsy and amateurish, with nothing intelligent or insightful to say about bigotry. He introduces an unsympathetic, one dimensional character, shoves him into a series of dull action scenes that merely disorient him and then gives him a cruel fate. It was common for characters on The Twilight Zone to get ironic punishments for their sins, but Connor is simply a loud-mouthed jerk who says vile things, and his penalty is grossly disproportionate. At the time of the accident Landis was reportedly working on a revised ending that would have allowed the Connor character to redeem himself by rescuing two Vietnamese children, but what sort of message would this have conveyed? Bigots can be reformed by being chased around and shot at? Except for a few clever transitions, Landis brings little visual style to the story. Vic Morrow looks tired and is unable to flesh out his part; knowing that this job led to his death makes his performance and the entire segment depressing. Steven Spielberg's segment follows. Originally, Spielberg concocted a story about a video game-loving bully who gets a nasty comeuppance, and had series veteran Richard Matheson write a script. (According to Matheson, it ended with an image "like something out of Hieronymous Bosch.") Officially the story was abandoned because of budget concerns, but one can't help but wonder if Spielberg had second thoughts about following the family-friendly E.T with a dark, scary story. The director chose instead to remake the George Clayton Johnson-scripted episode "Kick the Can." Johnson suggested a new ending, Richard Matheson wrote the screenplay and E.T. screenwriter Melissa Mathison did a rewrite under the pseudonym "Josh Rogan." In the new version, the elderly residents of Sunnyvale Rest Home, under the leadership of new arrival Mr. Bloom (Scatman Crothers), discover that the childhood game Kick the Can holds the secret to recapturing their youth-but a second childhood may not be what they truly need. As with the Landis story, poor writing sinks the segment, as simplistic dramatics are used to offer up a simplistic philosophy. In the original, the protagonist, Mr. Whitley, was a longtime resident of Sunnyvale, integrated into the social fabric of the place, who had to work to discover the magic of Kick the Can. In the remake, the not-very-subtly-named Mr. Bloom is a deus ex machina and mouthpiece for the Author's Message (he even talks directly to the audience at one point), an outsider who comes along, works his magic, dispenses his wisdom and leaves. Whitley was opposed in the TV version by his best friend, Mr. Conroy, who was grim and fatalistic but motivated by genuine concern for his pal's well-being; in the remake Conroy (Bill Quinn) is just an old sourpuss whom no one likes or takes seriously. All the other elderly characters in the Spielberg version are cute and loveable-so much so that they hardly seem to need Mr. Bloom's message; they come across as reasonably content and well-adjusted already. The remake's script pays lip service to the sense of loss that can come with aging but glosses over it in a line or two, and never mentions Alzheimer's Disease, diabetes, prostate cancer, glaucoma or the other ailments common to the elderly. The film's dismissal of the real emotional and physical pains of the aging with a glib "smile and think happy thoughts" message ultimately comes across as painfully superficial and insulting to senior citizens. The segment isn't a total loss, thanks mostly to some good work by the cast. Scatman Crothers is as charming as can be as Mr. Bloom, although his work would have benefited from a little less charm and a little more emotional gravity. Murray Matheson, who gave a memorable performance as a philosophical clown in the classic original series episode "Five Characters in Search of an Exit", makes a welcome return visit to the Twilight Zone as the courtly Mr. Agee; Martin Gerner, Selma Diamond, Helen Shaw and Peter Brocco all offer fine support as his fellow Sunnyvale residents. Among the child actors playing the young incarnations of the senior citizens, Tanya Fenmore is a standout with her amusing impression of Selma Diamond's whiney voice and attitude. Spielberg, who started his career directing a Rod Serling script for the Night Gallery pilot movie, fumbles by giving the story a sugary-sweet tone, but does manage to bring some visual flare and polish to the piece. After two disappointing stories in a row, Twilight Zone-the Movie finally starts to redeem itself with the third segment, Joe Dante's inspired remake of "It's a Good Life." The original version was a faithful adaptation by Serling of a Jerome Bixby short story about a young boy who terrorizes his home town with his seemingly god-like powers. Dante and screenwriter Richard Matheson decided to give the concept a fresh interpretation. In their updated version, schoolteacher Helen Foley (Kathleen Quinlan) meets a young boy, Anthony (Jeremy Licht), while traveling to a new job. Taking the boy home, she meets his peculiar family, all of whom appear unnaturally cheerful and desperate to please little Anthony. Gradually, Helen realizes that the family is concealing the terrifying truth about the innocent-looking boy ... One of Dante and Matheson's most ingenious choices for the remake is to show not only the terror Anthony's "family" lives in because of his awesome power, but also the sheer misery they experience as adults forced to live in a world built around a child's tastes and whims. Junk food is served at every meal, cartoons play endlessly on television, and favorite games and rituals are repeated over and over. Anthony is the ultimate spoiled brat whom everyone indulges for fear of his temper tantrums. Dante mines the situation for a lot of humor, but doesn't sacrifice the scares; there's a great funny/suspenseful sequence in which Anthony's "Uncle Walt" is asked to reach into a magic hat, and the expression of sickly dread on his face tells the viewer that he has no idea what he's going to find in there. The cast does an excellent job bringing out the humor in their characters' barely-suppressed anxiety and frayed nerves. Familiar TV character actor William Schallert is perfectly cast as "Father", as if Anthony saw him in a rerun of The Patty Duke Show and wished him out of the television and into his living room. Patricia Barry complements him well as "Mother", and Invasion of the Body Snatchers star Kevin McCarthy steals the show with his delightful turn as Uncle Walt. Nancy Cartwright, famous now as the voice of Bart Simpson, does fine work as Anthony's "sister" Ethel before meeting a fate that, considering her later career, is decidedly ironic. The episode is packed with more imaginative touches than most feature-length films. A lifelong animation buff, Dante makes Anthony a fan as well, and the nonstop cartoons playing in the background often provide counterpoint to the live action in the foreground. The art direction for Anthony's house makes it appear influenced by the cartoons he watches, with the downstairs furniture and décor all looking simple, unfinished and generic, while the black-and-white upstairs looks like an M.C. Escher etching interpreted by the Max Fleischer animation team. Rob Bottin, who created the werewolves for Dante's The Howling, crafts some bizarre, Ed Roth-inspired monsters conjured up by Anthony. Not all of them feel like they really belong in the film, but they are definitely unique. As is his usual practice, Dante peppers the segment with cameos and inside references: look for appearances by Dante regular Dick Miller, original Twilight Zone producer Buck Houghton and original "It's a Good Life" star Billy Mumy, and listen for mentions of towns featured in the series. Unfortunately, Dante and Matheson were unable to devise a satisfying ending. (NOTE: Some spoilers from here to end of paragraph.) Neither wished to go for the obvious, clichéd "dark" ending, but the nature of the story and Anthony's character are such that any other resolution feels artificially grafted on. We may believe in Anthony's desire to change, but since he is ruled by his impulses and is immune to discipline, we're skeptical about his ability to exercise self-restraint for an extended period. Ultimately, the segment feels like an entertaining joke that fizzles at the punch line. George Miller ends the film on a high note with his terrific remake of "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet." It's not merely the best segment in the movie; it may be the best segment in any fantasy/horror anthology ever. The television version, a favorite of many fans, was scripted by Richard Matheson from his own short story and directed by a young Richard Donner; William Shatner starred as an airline passenger unable to convince the crew that a strange creature is tampering with their engines. Miller's version (also scripted by Matheson) is faithful to the original, but adds a generous dose of humor and the high-adrenaline visual style that the director brought to his Mad Max films. Miller's camera swoops, bobs and tilts to create a simulation of a plane caught in heavy turbulence vivid enough to give any viewers who are nervous fliers white knuckles. John Lithgow is brilliant as the terrified lead character, Mr. Valentine; his performance starts with an anxiety attack and builds to total hysteria. Miller's editing and framing works with Lithgow's acting to convey Valentine's nervous energy and sense of claustrophobia-he's not only confined in a narrow aircraft, he's also surrounded on all sides by unsympathetic fellow passengers convinced that he's a nut. The creature, created by makeup artists Craig Reardon and Michael McCracken and played by Larry Cedar, is a big improvement over the crude original, a gleefully malevolent beast that seems to delight in its life-threatening mischief. Composer Jerry Goldsmith, another veteran of the original series, provides excellent scores for all four segments, but his work here is especially memorable, with music that both mirrors and mocks Valentine's terror. For many fans, Twilight Zone-the Movie is worth buying on the strength of "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" alone. Warner Home Video's DVD of Twilight Zone-the Movie sports an excellent 16 x 9 enhanced widescreen transfer. (Note: This reviewer only had the opportunity to watch the standard-def release.) The transfer allows one to fully appreciate the bright, cartoon-like primary colors in the Dante segment, and catch details in the brief glimpses of the monster in "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet." The English 5.1 and stereo tracks are also superb, and will be particularly enjoyed by fans of Goldsmith's score. The only extra is a bleary teaser trailer. The cover art is stunningly bland and well below Warner's usual standards. Recommended for confirmed fans for the film; others may wish to rent first. For more information about Twilight Zone-The Movie, visit Warner Video. To order Twilight Zone-The Movie, go to TCM Shopping. by Gary Teetzel

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States June 1983

Released in United States Summer June 24, 1983

Alan Smithee is a ghost name for a director or writer who does not want to be credited.

television extract: "Its a Good Life" (1961)

television extract: "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" (1963)

Released in United States June 1983

Released in United States Summer June 24, 1983