Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)

Rod Serling's classic TV series finally reaches the big screen care of 1983's TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE! This omnibus film features updated versions of three famous episodes and one new entry as directed by genre greats John Landis, Joe Dante, George Miller, and Steven Spielberg. The first story follows a steaming racist who is transported back in time through Nazi Germany, to the days of the Ku Klux Klan, and then into the swamps of Vietnam, where he must live out the horrifying life experiences of the people he claims to hate. Up next, the residents of Sunnyvale rest home are in for a treat when a magical game of Kick the Can restores their youth for one last night of fun. A young woman falls under the spell of a young telepath who has trapped her in his twisted dream world along with the rest of his fearful family in the third entry. Finally, an unfortunate passenger with a fear of flying spots a hideous creature tinkering with the engines, but his attempts to alert the crew only get him detained as the plane begins to plummet! TWILIGHT ZONE boasts a star-studded cast, including appearances by Dan Akroyd, Albert Brooks, Vic Morrow, Scatman Crothers, Kevin McCarthy, Dick Miller, John Lithgow, and many others. The film gets off to a mediocre start with Landis' ironic morality tale that more closely resembles the EC comic stylings from the 1950's, and then moves on to Spielberg's more sentimental approach to the series. These first two entries are only mildly entertaining, but Joe Dante and George Miller prove to be the big winners with the last two shorts. Miller's retelling of Nightmare at 20,000 Feet is a frantic and terrifying tale of paranoia and fear, itself, that offers up one of John Lithgow's most memorable performances. Overall, TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE is an enjoyable throwback to the original series with plenty of colorful stories and an even blend of light humor and horror.

Rating: 8/10.

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  1. It is also in the elite few films to have a Manslaughter case built around it. I'm sure it's a popular film in the Jennifer Jason Leigh household too.

    All dark irony aside, the movie is pretty much hit or miss. Ironically, the people who realized that it was a mistake to stretch the show's episodes from 30 minutes to an hour didn't learn their lesson when it came to this movie.

    For Dante and Lithgow's participation, however, the film is a classic. It just should have had more of that.

  2. it is one of those films, when i was a kid and held a strong impact in my movie seeing experience... from learning what the midnight special was to the night terrors on a plane. hell i would like to kick the can, just to go back.

  3. I was just thinking about this movie the other day. Weird coincidence. I liked it as a kid, but not the first segment. The one with the psychic kid was freaky, big time!

  4. I always felt that Landis' entry would have been better suited for a new Twilight Zone TV series, and Spielberg should have saved Kick the Can for Amazing Stories, where it would have been a much better fit. Still love the film, though, definitely staple 80s Horror!

  5. true, but you got to love the rabbit out of the hat...

  6. This was a great idea full of nostalgia and commercial potential. Unfortunately it suffered the fate of every horror anthology film ever made - inconsistency.

  7. There's a good many TZ episodes that would have been better suited to AMAZING STORIES; that is if it was around at that time. I think most people go for the poetic justice, or supernatural ZONE episodes so they were more put off by the KICK THE CAN remake.

    Personally, I thought the movie was pretty decent, but most likely the difference in style was intentional as they were attempting to pay tribute to Serling's genius, at least that's my interpretation of it. Serling was fascinated with social issues especially racism. He was also preoccupied with subjects of fantasy such as nostalgia and ideas of reliving ones youth. These two ideas alone occupy a great many and great TZ episodes.

    Sadly, this movie will most likely only be remembered for the irresponsibility surrounding the deaths on the set than anything else. I did enjoy Aykroyd's character A LOT.

  8. I dont mind KICK THE CAN, but since I had only seen a very select few TZ episodes going in, I always assumed they were darker and closer to SciFi and Horror than softer Fantasy.

    I also never heard about the tragedies until posting this review, sad..