ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Twilight Zone The Movie (1983)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Joe Dante
John Landis
George Miller
Steven Spielberg

Starring:
Vic Morrow/Bill
Scatman Crothers/Mr. Bloom
Kathleen Quinlan/Helen
John Lithgow/John
PLOT-CRUNCH
Rod Sterling’s 1950/60 hit TV show THE TWILIGHT ZONE is given the big screen/big name director treatment by way of this cinematic version. Four stories, one wraparound… have a blast?
THE LOWDOWN

While I was crashing at a friend’s pad last month, I read a book having to do with the extensive legal case against John Landis and cie for the accidental (i.e. Landis’ overly inflated ego at the time which led to blind negligence) death of actor Vic Morrow on the 1983 TWILIGHT ZONE shoot. The book made me want to see the flick again, so I popped it in the player and gave it a twirl. Verdict? Let me break it down for ya, so nobody gets hurt.

WRAP AROUND STORY (Directed by John Landis): Two dudes in a car sing sitcom theme songs and talk  TV trivia until a scare goes down. Now, although the banter between the two "on the ball" actors; Albert Brook and Dan Akroyd was energetic, well written and witty - the “scare” of the piece was flatter than Paris Hilton letting her tangerines hang out. A blood splat (in the car window perhaps) would have given that payoff some much needed kick. As-is – meh. Rating: B -

SEGMENT #1 (Directed by John Landis): Inspired by the TZ episode A QUALITY OF MERCY, Segment #1 (what no title for the tale that killed Vic Morrrow…hmmm) sees a racist duder (Morrow) bitch-slapped by the other side of the coin when he begins era hopping while being perceived as either a Jew, a Black man or a Vietnamese gent by the wrong people. Nazis, the KKK, American GI’s see him as the enemy and attempt to whack him throughout the piece. Yup, our lead character learns a lesson the hard way.

Vic Morrow was my main anchor to this one via his grounded and intense performance. Dude gave it all he had and I appreciated it. On his end, Landis served up crazy camera shots and a taunt pace that made this "extensive chase scene" fly by effortlessly. Sure, the story was one trick pony in its structure but hey, I had fun with it none the less. NOTE: After finding out that Landis had Morrow do the ledge scene without a net or any form of safety device below, I was literally on the edge of my edge during that bit. Rating: B

KICK THE CAN (Directed by Steven Spielberg): This snoozer was a remake of the TZ episode of the same name and it couldn't end soon enough for this jack-twat. I guess Spielberg was snorting "Pixie dust" when he decided to make this overly syrupy old peeps in a home become kids again drivel. How else can one explain the bland, uneventful, tacky and gun to one's head inducing mushy jive of it all. Even though Scatman Crothers was likeable and that the story had a handful of sweet moments to offer, overall, I can’t say I was moved one way or another… upchuck factor aside of course.. NOTE: That ever so rambling wannabee Peter Pan kid – yeah him - kill me now man. Rating: C

IT'S A GOOD LIFE (Directed by Joe Dante): A retelling of the episode of the same name (which was itself based on Jerome Bixby’s 1953 short story), this LSD ride freaked me out the most  when I was younger and it pretty much did the same damn thing today. Not only did the piece appeal to my what if what we wished for came through fantasy, it was also filled with macabre and twisted visuals that I couldn't get enough of. The whole cartoons brought into the real world and the real world brought into cartoon land schtick resulted in all kinds of eerie fun, potent chills and novel beasties. Add great acting and a genre friendly cast (Yes Dick Miller pops up, it’s a Dante effort!) to it all and you get a top notch mofo that kicked KICK THE CAN to the curb where it belonged and put the flick back on the RIGHT track. BOOYA! Rating: A  

NIGHTMARE AT 20.000 FEET (Directed by George Miller): Another one based off an old TZ episode (that starred camera-mugging extraordinaire William Shatner no less). This vice grip on a plane capped off the spooky shenanigans on a rock solid note. John Lithgow owned the scenery, the mood was creepy-rific and the monster was scary and then some. Moreover, the story’s build up (and the games played on us) was beyond infectious. Director Miller perfectly echoed the claustrophobic feel of the setting and the zaniness of the situation with his camera moves . Humor, suspense, scares, it was all there! Rating: A+

GORE
We get gun shot wounds, some frightening imagery (chick with no mouth) and fly creatures.
ACTING
Screen presence heavy Vic Morrow (Bill) pulled off a layered show. He was somewhat despicable for his racist point of views early on yet became more and more likeable/vulnerable as the clock moved on. Scatman Crothers (Mr. Bloom) gave a genuine show but even he couldn’t save me from dunking my head in the toilet to block out the sap as Spielberg’s entry rolled on.

Kathleen Quinlan (Helen) held her own in her first starring role and Jeremy Licht (Anthony) was creepy as f*ck as the brat with the most. John Lithgow (John) scared shitless is not as effective as John Lithgow playing a psycho but hey, it's still a hoot and nanny to witness. Props!
T & A
None whatsoever, but I got to say it, that naked monster-ish wasky rabbit was hot to trot and then some! Damn bunny, where you be grooming?
DIRECTING
Landis has to be commended for his loco camera work, Spielberg deserves a spanking for his visually stale approach to his staler story, Dante gets a pat on the ass for his freaky imagery while Miller gets the Tupperware Container Award for the most frightening entry of the film.
SOUNDTRACK
The score didn't leave a mark on me (Twilight Zone theme aside).
BOTTOM LINE
TWILIGHT ZONE THE MOVIE was a slick, randomly creepy and easy watch. When hit the mark, it did it from fair to great. When it missed, it did by a yard. With a stronger wrap around story, more variety to Landis' tale and Spielberg’s sissy, stops the flick dead in its tracks entry taken out, the movie would’ve been tighter and stronger if you ask me. But when all was stabbed and bled dry, there was enough groovy-groove-groove stuff in here to warrant a sit down.
BULL'S EYE
The opening monologue was narrated by Burgess Meredith (Mickey in the Rocky movies)

Robert Bloch (Psycho) wrote novelization of Twilight Zone: The Movie.

Actor John Laroquette has a small role as a member of the KKK.

On July 23, 1982, actor Vic Morrow and "used under the table" kid actors Myca Dinh Le (age 7) and Renee Shin-Yi Chen (age 6) died when an a helicopter in the scene went out of control (due to a WAY TOO BIG explosion) and crashed to the ground, crushing one kid to death and decapitating Morrow and the other kid (rotor blade) in the process.
Strikeback
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4:47PM on 04/10/2012
The reason for Spielberg's directing being so lackluster was because he completely lost enthusiasm for the project after Morrow's death, so he directed Kick The Can as quickly and half-heartedly as he could, I also heard he was originally supposed to direct an original segment revolving around Halloween.
The reason for Spielberg's directing being so lackluster was because he completely lost enthusiasm for the project after Morrow's death, so he directed Kick The Can as quickly and half-heartedly as he could, I also heard he was originally supposed to direct an original segment revolving around Halloween.
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7:09PM on 09/29/2008

3 out of 4 ain't bad

It opened well, slowed with Speilberg's gentle story (which I don't mind all that much), cranked up the creepy then closed like a champ. Plus, wasn't Kathleen Quinlan pretty darn smokin'? I haven't seen it in years but I can still clearly remember those eyes and that striped shirt she filled so well.
It opened well, slowed with Speilberg's gentle story (which I don't mind all that much), cranked up the creepy then closed like a champ. Plus, wasn't Kathleen Quinlan pretty darn smokin'? I haven't seen it in years but I can still clearly remember those eyes and that striped shirt she filled so well.
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4:56PM on 09/29/2008

Ironically

Vic Morrow was Jewish himself. Playing anti-Semite in his final role...
Yes, Jennifer Jason Leigh's father was a real deal.
Vic Morrow was Jewish himself. Playing anti-Semite in his final role...
Yes, Jennifer Jason Leigh's father was a real deal.
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+0
1:45PM on 09/29/2008
Dude, that "work-man-like" soundtrack is by the legendary Jerry Goldsmith, and his music for the Nightmare at 10,000 Feet sequence is a large part of what makes it so goddamn creepy. That scene where Lithgow is tempted to look out his closed window, the music does everything, this sinister violin music builds and then erupts into complete chaos as he opens the window--and if you listen carefully, you can even hear a snippet of Goldsmith's "Gremlins" theme--and then this huge dark fanfare plays
Dude, that "work-man-like" soundtrack is by the legendary Jerry Goldsmith, and his music for the Nightmare at 10,000 Feet sequence is a large part of what makes it so goddamn creepy. That scene where Lithgow is tempted to look out his closed window, the music does everything, this sinister violin music builds and then erupts into complete chaos as he opens the window--and if you listen carefully, you can even hear a snippet of Goldsmith's "Gremlins" theme--and then this huge dark fanfare plays out as it cuts to the outside shot of the plane. Seriously, give it another shot. He did some absolutely balls-to-the-wall brilliant stuff in that sequence that only Goldsmith coulda done.
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