Combustible Celluloid
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With: Dan Aykroyd, Albert Brooks, Vic Morrow, Kathleen Quinlan, Nancy Cartwright, Dick Miller, Kevin McCarthy, Bill Mumy, John Lithgow, Burgess Meredith (voice)
Written by: John Landis, George Clayton Johnson, Richard Matheson, Melissa Mathison, Jerome Bixby
Directed by: Joe Dante, John Landis, George Miller, Steven Spielberg
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 101
Date: 06/23/1983

Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Traveling Through Another Dimension

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Like all anthology films, this one -- based on Rod Serling's groundbreaking TV series (1959-64) -- has its high and low points, and not where you'd expect. Steven Spielberg's "Kick the Can" segment, with its unabashed sentimentality and odd character motivation, is unquestionably the weakest. John Landis' segment, about a bigot who learns firsthand about discrimination, is infamous for its on-set accident that killed lead actor Vic Morrow. But for all that, it's a fairly accomplished entry.

Joe Dante's amazing "It's a Good Life" features all of his personal touches; it's the story of a young boy with all-encompassing telekinetic powers who loves cartoons and rules his family with cruelty. And George Miller's remake of the television episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet," with John Lithgow in the William Shatner role, is even more kinetic and terrifying than the original.

Landis directed the prologue with Dan Aykroyd and Albert Brooks discussing old TV shows. Burgess Meredith, who starred in one of the best original episodes, reads the familiar Rod Serling narration. The great genre writer Richard Matheson wrote or co-wrote three of the four episodes (all except Landis'). Screenwriter Melissa Mathison (E.T.) used a pseudonym, "Josh Rogan," for her work on Spielberg's segment.

Warner Home Video released this film on DVD for the first time in 2007. It contains no extras except a trailer, but the soundtrack and picture have been nicely remastered. I saw it many times as a kid on cable TV, but I've never seen it look this good.

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