On this day in horror history, producers Steven Spielberg and John Landis’ big-screen adaptation of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone hit back in 1983.
A remake of three classic episodes and one original story, the film’s four stories were intended to be interwoven, with characters crossing over from one segment to the next, but problems with the filming stopped this.
Landis (“Prologue: Something Scary”, “Time Out”, and “Epilogue: Even Scarier”) and Spielberg (“Kick the Can”) also directed segments along with Gremlins filmmaker Joe Dante (“It’s a Good Life”), and Mad Max maestro George Miller (“Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”)
The $10M movie opened at number 4, grossing $6.6M opening weekend at 1,275 theaters and ended up grossing $29.4M in the U.S. and Canada. Internationally, it snagged $12.5M for a worldwide gross of $42M.
It stars Dan Aykroyd, Albert Brooks, Scatman Crothers, John Lithgow, Vic Morrow, and Kathleen Quinlan with William Schallert, Kevin McCarthy, Bill Mumy, Murray Matheson, Peter Brocco, and Patricia Barry. Burgess Meredith and Rod Serling narrate.
Jerry Goldsmith provided the score while Allen Daviau, John Hora, and Stevan Larner handled the cinematography. Malcolm Campbell, Tina Hirsch, Michael Kahn, and Howard E. Smith edited it all together.
This tribute to the beloved supernatural TV show has four episodes. In the first, racist Bill Connor (Vic Morrow) is transformed into a Jew in World War II. Next, Mr. Bloom (Scatman Crothers) comes to a retirement home to teach the residents that they are only as young as they feel. In the third, teacher Helen Foley (Kathleen Quinlan) meets Antony (Jeremy Licht), a boy who is not what he seems. Finally, panicky plane passenger John Valentine (John Lithgow) sees gremlins attacking his flight.
It sports a 56% on Rotten Tomatoes with a Critics Consensus that reads: The Twilight Zone: The Movie suffers from the typical anthology-film highs and lows; thankfully, the former outnumber the latter.
The film is notorious for a stunt helicopter crash which took the lives of actor Vic Morrow and child actors Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Chen. The two kids had been hired illegally and their deaths led to a high-profile legal case, although no one was found to be criminally liable.