Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983): The Best and The Worst

Happy New Year!
Last year I did the Best and Worst of the 2002 UPN version of The Twilight Zone and I realized that I ran out of Twilight Zones to write about. Or did I?

Twilight Zone: The Movie was released in 1983. Two years before the 1985 revival on TV. The same year as Return of the Jedi and Scarface. Yes, Twilight Zone: The Movie was on the big screen. It was produced by Steven Spielberg and John Landis. Can you imagine hearing about this in the early 80's? That they are bringing back the Twilight Zone but, not only that. Spielberg and Landis are both producing and directing! One is a great story teller and the other is a master of horror! The movie turned out to be a disappointment. To begin with it went through a bunch of production problems which culminated in the death of three actors: Vic Morrow and two child actors: Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Chen. It was terrible and tragic. The three actors died on set during a staged helicopter stunt gone wrong. You can search for the story on the internet and there are clips on youtube as well. The production team ignored the safety of the actors and violated a bunch of child actors laws. The part being filmed was part of the Vietnam scene in the first segment, Time Out. It's a very over the top story about racism. I'll talk more about it in the Best/Worst section.

Twilight Zone: The Movie was split into five segments. An introduction and an epilogue to book end the movie. Then four separate segments. Out of the four segments there is an original story and three remakes. The initial idea was to have a character from the introduction appearing in each of the segments. That idea did not ban out but, they got Burgess Meredith, who acted in a couple of episodes in the classic Twilight Zone, to narrate the introduction and for the individual segments. Just like how Rod Serling narrated the introduction and sometimes the ending for the classic series. You might remember Burgess Meredith in Time Enough At Least as a man who survives a nuclear bomb and finally has all the time in the world to do what he loves most. Unlike, Serling, Merdith did not appear on screen.

Twilight Zone: The Movie had a budget of $10 Million which might have been a lot in 1983. I'm not sure but, the movie had a feel of "just throw money into it and it'll be good" quality. It feels over produced and under written. Even as a child, back in the 80's I thought the movie was crap. Everything was so over the top. No subtlety what so ever. I am very critical of this movie but I do revisit it once in a while. Sometimes, I do find myself enjoying it from a different perspective. During my last viewing, I had a great time watching Nancy Cartwright's (Bart Simpson) performance as Ethel, Anthony's sister, in the third segment.

Since there are only five segments, I'll just rate them in the order of appearance instead of having separate sections for Best and Worst. The Intro and the Epilogue is technically one segment but, I'll split them according to chronological order. The list is right after the "JUMP!".

A list of The Best and The Worst after the "JUMP!":