Movie Review: The Twilight Zone

Twilight Zone MovieMovie Review: The Twilight Zone

Like most people my age, I only knew of the Twilight Zone from it being a TV before I knew what TV was, and for the movie that killed three people via an out of control director.

So lets get into this movie, I am very familiar with Creepshow, and I loved the Tales from the Crypt series. I’m not sure what I’m getting into here, but again, I’ve seen the knockoffs- from Robot Chicken to the Simpsons. Plus the Lithgow scene is about as famous as it gets.

twilight zone prolougheWe kickoff, and no, I’m not going through the whole movie until we hit the spoilers, how about just the first two, ok? Anyway, we start off with two of the funniest guys in history with Albert Brooks and Dan Akroyd driving down a country road, after the 8 track dies, and the radio doesn’t work (and I bet Akroyd just loves him some Coast to Coast) they start going over some TV Themes, and the Outer Limits/Twilight Zone arguments come up. Being a 1983 movie, and I was 10, a lot of these shows I never saw. I’m sure there will be comments below on how awesome these shows are. Thanks Joe and John.
Eventually Akroyd wants to know if Brooks wants to see something scary- and when Brooks pulls over, Akroyd attacks him after changing into a monster!

Not a great start, but Its Dan and Albert. The ending stinks, buts its a fun opener.

Number One

twilight zone oneNow we get a nice 70s bar/restaurant and a man joins two other guys and complains about not getting a promotion. He goes all racist on everything, from the N* moving 6 blocks away to the Orientals owning the loan on his house to the Jew that got his promotion. He gets louder and louder, and there is a black man at the next table that stunningly doesn’t rip his arms off.  When he leaves, he is transported to Nazi Germany (to see what its like being Jewish) to being Black with the KKK (and John Larroquette!) and then to Vietnam to be hunted there. Fun bit where one says they shouldn’t have shot Lt Neidermeyer! I wonder if that was a callback to Animal House. Next he’s kicked back over to Germany, and thrown in a cattle car, and is sent off screaming.

I like this one better, but I’d almost rather see him thrown in the cattle car, and then standup and be back at the bar. A little redemption maybe. True, they did have to change the ending due to the accident, but still.

Number Two

twilight zone oldWe open at a rest home, where Scatman Crothers has just joined the Sunnyvale Retirement home, Oh Look! Its Selma from Night Court! You can’t miss that voice! Marty from the show is also there. That is just too cool. The Grandma from Parenthood (the Movie) is there as well. The residents all complain about being old, and Scatman talks about what games they liked, after some discussion, Scatman says he liked Kick the Can, again, I’m too young to even get that game, even as they play it- almost like a cross between Hide and Seek with the can being a safe point. One man says that people are going to be hurt, as they are too old, and goes to bed. The rest of the residents go out at night, and play Kick the Can, and it turns them young. All but one complain about having to start over, and Scatman allows the rest to return to being old.

I like this one a lot more, and even though the ending is again cheesy, I enjoyed it.

Number Three

This one I didn’t like, but again, a TON of people I have seen before is there, including Nancy Cartwright! Holy Crap! I’m a big fan of Kevin McCarthy as well.

twilight zone johnNumber Four

I have always been a fan of Lithgow, he’s always been a joy to me, not quite chewing scenery, btut dominating it when called upon. He’s not hammy here, but he’s dancing on the edge. The ending here is FINALLY, a lot of fun, and we get a callback that also puts a smile on my face.

So how is this one?
Well, the like its companions, Creepshow and Tales from the Crypt, and I’m just guessing the two TV shows it references, the Outer Limits and the namesake, the Twilight
Is this a better movie than Creepshow? No, not even close. It feels like its just 4 shorts tied together with an opening and an ending. The good ones are really good, but not enough to get past a BAD third act. Three out of four having bad endings is also a bit annoying.

All-in-all its not a bad time-waster, if you are like me and love Creepshow and/or are a child of the 80s and want to play “how many people can I name from this show that I know from something else” game- I think I’m easily into double digits. Plus Selma Diamond people! I’ll give it a low 4, just throw it on DVR, and try and forget the John Landis tragedy

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4 Comments

  1. Kinda saw this movie.. I think… that’s my way of saying it didn’t impress me.

    Original TV series was much better… Guess it needed the personal Rod Serling touch rather than some imitator.

    As for which was better…. decidely the Twinkie Zone over Outer Limits. To me Outer Limtis was a decent, but, still poor imitator.

  2. I loved the TV show “Twilight Zone” of a “fantasy” genre and appreciated with somewhat less enthusiasm “Outer Limits” with a pseudo-science fiction orientation. They were both original and inventive in a medium which was otherwise neither. Some of you with a significant number of years under your belt may recall FCC Chair Newton Minnow at the time referring to TV as a “vast wasteland.”

    I was not moved to see the film “Twilight Zone” when it came out, nor am I motivated to see it now after reading this review. It is not that the review is wrong. Indeed, it is a well-written review. It is that it confirms further my suspicion that the film wants to be part of “Twilight Zone” and “Outer Limits,” but fails miserably. (In this regard, my feelings echoed what I felt when the first “Star Trek” film was released. I had no confidence that either “Twilight one” or :”Star Trek” could be identified with their TV predecessors. In the case of “Star Trek,” I believe my feelings have been born out — the first “Star Trek” is by far the worst of all the “Star Trek” films even including the J. J. Abrams atrocities.)

    Rod Serling narrated “Twilight Zone.” He also created it and wrote many of the episodes. There are very few who could combine his sense of the eerie with a mastery of written and film drama. Doyle’s Challenger, Poe’s Dupin, and some of Sheckley or Sturgeon come to mind as possibilities. Mark Twain and O. Henry might have been able to do something along this line. Just about anyone else trying this genre would produce a sham, a poor imitation, and an insult to the original.

  3. I’m sorry if I pushed you away from the movie. I would say that I have not seen the TV show, so I don’t know how well it fits into the normal quality of the show- but your Star Trek analogy I can answer. The first movie is without a doubt would be considered among the worst episodes, while KHAAAAAANNNNN would be better than any episode of the original show. (I’d say #4 would be about dead center for the original series.)

  4. David, you didn’t push me anywhere. My moviegoing habits have always been sparse, only watching when I have a reason to see a film either because it looks good or someone I care about thinks it might be good. As an example, my vote for the best film of all time is “2001, A Space Odyssey” while my vote for second best is “The Defiant Ones” (Portier and Curtis).

    Maybe I should do a review of “2001” sometime to explain why I believe it is a piece of true film literature in the best sense and not just a movie.

    The adage that the “good” Star Trek films are the even numbered ones holds true, even into the “Next Generation” films. My personal favorite is #6: “The Undiscovered Country” which is loosely based on Hamlet although the film identifies the future as “the undiscovered country” whereas Hamlet apparently meant this phrase to refer to death..

    #2 – The Wrath of Khan, #4 – The Voyage Home, and #8 – First Contact are also very good, maintaining the canon while introducing new concepts and interactions. The odd numbered films have their moments, but not their hours. It is interesting that in contrast to Star Trek, it is the odd numbered Star Wars films which are the good ones. Go figure.

    With respect to the film “Twilight Zone,” I am skeptical of any sequel as a matter of basic attitude. I am sometimes wrong in this attitude and have missed some good works because of it. But more often, my skepticism has saved me from enduring the torture of watching an excellent piece of literature destroyed. (Actually not, since if it is that good, nothing can destroy it.) But on balance, I choose to retain my skepticism of sequels.

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