From his book Essential Cinema.
Twilight Zone: The Movie
You're travelling through another dimension. A dimension, not only of sight and sound, but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Zone!
Four directors collaborated to remake four episodes of the popular television series 'The Twilight Zone' for this movie. The episodes are updated slightly and in color (the television show was in black-and-white), but very true to the originals, where eerie and disturbing situations gradually spin out of control. "A Quality of Mercy", "Kick the Can", "It's a Good Life", and "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet".
For the past 20 years of my life I've had a tradition of watching a marathon of Twilight Zone episodes on television on New Year's Eve/New Year's Day. This obviously started because of the Sci-Fi (now SyFy) Channel, as they've always aired the show on those two days.
I grew up watching this movie as well and I've memorized it from start to finish, but I still enjoy watching it (with the obvious exception of Steven Spielberg's crappy, out-of-place "magical negro" segment).
I love the cartoonish set and FX used in Joe Dante's segment [the 3rd, "It's a Good Life"] and the performances of Nancy Cartwright and Kevin McCarthy, too bad the little boy, "Anthony" can't hold a candle to…
The Twilight Zone is kind of an interesting choice for a big blockbuster adaptation, as it isn't one of its (iconic) production elements or characters that resonate with audiences as much as that "holy shit" moment when you figure out that they were never on Earth to begin with or that it's the rest of the world who's disfigured and she's actually beautiful!
But these filmmakers do an okay job of it anyway for the most part, with only Spielberg's segment providing a real drag. I haven't seen the episode it's based on, but I can say that it seems like an attempt by Spielberg to try and distil his very worst qualities as a filmmaker with none of the…
That last segment is a true work of art, the reason to watch, and one of the scariest imaginations to put into the mind of a child, as it did to me. John Lithgow brings pent-up demands for thunder, for the first hour and fifteen didn't hold up well at all. The John Landis one is the most unforgivable and should have never saw final cut. It's repetitive and crass too, especially with the tragic accident in mind. The Spielberg segment might as well be outright parody and the Joe Dante story was typically goofy and a little tired. The prologue is fun but reliant on dated references. Overall, an interesting stroll down Nostalgia Lane, but it does not do justice to the show even for a second.
A certain amount of give-and-take is expected from an anthology film, particularly one updating one of the great left-field anthology series, but the lopsided quality and tone of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE is a drag. At least, it is for its first half: Landis' heavy-handed fable about intolerance aims for the kind of high-concept, easily digested irony that made the show great, but its erratic pacing and glib reflexive humor (har har a Niedermeyer joke!) dilutes the impact. Further, the show relied on one gut punch, but Landis barely gets five minutes in before turning his racist protagonist's world upside down, and even then he keeps escalating. It turns a final train to Auschwitz into the climax of an action…
Four classic directors, John Landis, Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante and George Miller team up to do a combination of short pieces to celebrate and renew interest in "The Twilight Zone".
So we have John "Blues Brothers/American Werewolf" Landis and everyone-knows-Steve as the well-known names. Meanwhile Joe Dante (having so far only released Piranha and The Howling) and George Miller of Mad Max fame, are the relative newcomers.
John Landis does an okay job. He's responsible for the long-winded intro which, admittedly, ends quite well. He also does the first story about a bigot who finds himself in the shoes of those he wished to ridicule. It's all a bit daft, but its quite effective. Having an anti-semite running away from…
Like pretty much anyone else you talk to about this uneven but essential anthology film, I'm gonna say that the first two stories (directed by John Landis and Steven Spielberg, respectively) are mediocre but watchable (though Spielberg's generally terrible "Kick the Can" comes close to being fast-forward-worthy), it's more than worth sticking around for the last two stories, which are just fantastic.
Joe Dante's "It's a Good Life" is the most visually appealing, a darkly comedic tale about a little boy both blessed and cursed by the ability to make anything he wishes come true. It's funny, filled with great visuals and inventive sets, and a bit disturbing.
The real treasure, though, is George Miller's "Nightmare at 20,000" feet, simply…
As with a lot of anthology films, there's of course both good and bad, but I don't think I've ever seen the gap between these two extremes as much as I did in Twilight Zone: The Movie. The prologue is short and fun, but the first two segments - "Time Out" and "Kick the Can" - are both pretty bad, surprising considering these two are done by John Landis and Steven Spielberg. Landis for some reason decides to buck the entire idea and make his own Twilight Zone segment that isn't very good. But "Kick the Can," good lord what a pile of crap. I don't think I've ever seen Spielberg do something this bad. There's a nugget of an…
Surprisingly, John Landis and Steven Spielberg are the weakest links here, with Spielberg's segment in particular being super corny (even for him).
The last two segments were easily way better than the first half. Joe Dante's "It's a Good Life" had some incredible, cartoonish, old school FX that I really loved. But the real star of the movie was George Miller's "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet". John Lithgow was great at being sweaty and terrified, and the monster was able to be both ridiculous and creepy. I even enjoyed the Dan Aykroyd bookend.
It was really smart to put this segment last because it almost makes you forget how stupid the first half was. Almost.
I had planned on reviewing each segment, but this was such a bore that I'm not even going to bother. The only one even remotely worth checking out is Joe Dante's take on It's A Good Life, with it's interesting special effects. The actress who played the teacher was easy on the eyes too. Aside from that, I did like the touch of Burgess Meredith doing the narration. Otherwise, skip the movie and watch the original episodes instead. The original Twilight Zone series is filled with timeless classics that remain powerful to this day. This should just be a curious relic for fans and nothing more.
I mean, Spielberg does the worst job out of everyone! What was he thinking?
I wanted to watch this not only because I love anthology films and the show it's based on, but also because I was curious to see Spielberg and Landis' segments--the latter of which being reviewed highly.
Probably the most disappointing piece of film that I've seen from Spielberg, and Landis' segment just couldn't make up for the rest.
It's too bad how mediocre this anthology is, especially considering the strength and ingenuity of its source material.
"Let the midnight special, shine a light on me...."
What a shame that this movie doesn't have a good reputation. Prior to seeing it, I only knew it as an inessential exercise. Which sucks because this is better than that.
By juxtaposing these four stories, and beginning with the "Midnight Special" segment, Steven Spielberg and his colleagues got at the heart of Rod Serling's project. The movie's episodes all concern Serling's particular brand of humanist polemicism, the kind that arguably requires John Landis's harrowing segment to kick things off. All four segments are about what We need to be afraid of, or what's really endangering Us (or the platonic Us...or maybe just the general Us). The Midnight Special intro is…
A whacked out jamboree of stories with more than a couple of meta moments, celebrating the weird and wonderful science fiction, fantasy and horror of The Twilight Zone.
The John Landis helmed "Time Out" takes a hideously nasty racist man and makes him run the gauntlet of Nazi oppression, a Southern State American lynch mob and hounded by US troops during the Vietnam War. As impressive as the sets are, this tale is a bit of a one trick pony with the oddly poignant pay-off seeming a little out of place.
"Kick The Can" seems to be an exercise of Steven Spielberg doing his best to make a grown man cry. Sentimental and manipulating, this story sees Scatman Crothers board…
Brilliant Anthology film with some of the best directors in the world involved and one of the most memorable intro scenes ever "you wanna see something really scary?"
The legendary show is greatly portrayed in this film, all the stories are excellent and so memorable. I was hesitating about watching this, but doing it was a great decision.
THIS FILM IS FUCKIN' BONKERS MAN!
A lot of people have made a "Top 100 Favorite Horror Films" list but that's physically impossible for me. If…
More than 1100 movies of pure 80's horror.