Twilight Zone: The Movie

Year: 1983
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: John Landis/Joe Dante/Steven Spielberg/George Miller
Producer: George Fosley Jr/John Landis/Frank Marshall/Kathleen Kennedy/Steven Spielberg/Jon Davison
Writer: John Landis/Rod Serling/George Clayton Johnson/Josh Rogan/Richard Matheson/
Cast: Dan Aykroyd, Albert Brooks, Vic Morrow, John Lithgow, Scatman Crothers, Kevin McCarthy, Dick Miller, Donna Dixon, Burgess Meredith

Every time I think about this film I realise there couldn't really have been a better approach to a Twilight Zone movie than simply combine four episodes reworked by some of the biggest directors working at the time.

Even still, the film as a whole is a disappointment apart from the final segment by Miller (a genuine surprise, by the way - I had no idea the Mad Max director was even involved), a remake of an episode called Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.

Landis' contribution is the ultimately pointless prologue with Dan Aykroyd and Albert Brooks driving down a lonely highway at night discussing the old series, before it bizarrely turns on a dime like a miniature version of From Dusk Till Dawn.

His legacy was to be the changing of the laws regarding children on film sets after an accident took the life of actor Vic Morrow and two young Asian child actors when a helicopter spun out of control and crashed on top of them. That's certainly better known than the story, in which Morrow plays a bitter, bigoted man magically transported to the most brutal political regimes of history to learn the truth about how the Jews, Asians, etc don't really get all the breaks.

Spielberg's tale about retirement home residents who transform into their child selves is the director at his most whimsical, saccharine and least engaging, a love letter to the institution of childhood he's always explored but not rammed down our throats quite so cloyingly.

Joe Dante's segment about a kid whose every wish comes true and the family consequently terrified of upsetting him is visually trippy but doesn't say much in the end.

It's Miller's tale that contains not just the thrills of a good short horror/sci-fi film but the thrill of possibility the best Twilight Zone stories had. John Lithgow is a dangerously stressed man on a plane trying to land in a bad storm, and it's not made any easier on him that he keeps seeing a knee-high monster scuttling around on the outside of the plane trying to destroy the engines, or that nobody will believe him.

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