TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE
You wanna see something really scary?
Growing up watching the Rod Serling television series, there was no way I wasnít going to movie theater to see TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE ($20). Of course, the accidental deaths of actor Vic Morrow and two child actors on the set of the movie certainly piqued my curiosity to see the film as well. So, back in the day, I plunked down my money, and went to see TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE- however, I wasnít overly impressed then, and Iím still not. Considering all the talent behind TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE, to this day I remain surprised that the end results werenít better.
With a wraparound story and four individual tales, TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE maintains the anthology format of its namesake. Segment one, directed by John Landis, is the only original tale in the movie, all the rest are adapted from actual episodes. In this first segment, we are introduced to a bigot, who gets his comeuppance, when he gets the first hand experience of what its like to be a Jew on the run from the Nazis, a Negro on the run from a K.K.K. lynch mob and a Vietnamese on the run from American soldiers in the jungles of Vietnam. Segment two, directed by Steven Spielberg, is based upon Kick The Can, but in retrospect, this offering plays more like an overly sentimental segment of Spielbergís own AMAZING STORIES, than an actual TZ segment. The premise of Kick The Can finds the residents of a retirement home regaining their youth by playing a childís game.
Segment three, directed by Joe Dante, is based upon It's A Good Life and is really the first sign that the movie has an actual pulse and is able to capture the essence of the original series. It's A Good Life tells the story of a woman who encounters a young boy with godlike powers and "the family" that lives in fear of him. Segment four, directed by George Miller, is based upon Nightmare At 20,000 Feet and is, hands down, the best part of the movie. Nightmare At 20,000 Feet tells of nervous airline passenger, who canít get anyone to believe him that he has seen a gremlin sabotaging the engines of their airliner, in the middle of a violent storm. The cast of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE features Dan Aykroyd, Albert Brooks, Scatman Crothers, Bill Quinn, Martin Garner, Selma Diamond, Helen Shaw, Murray Matheson, Peter Brocco, Priscilla Pointer, Kathleen Quinlan, Jeremy Licht, Kevin McCarthy, Patricia Barry, William Schallert, Nancy Cartwright, Dick Miller, Bill Mumy, John Lithgow, Abbe Lane, Donna Dixon and John Dennis Johnston. TZ veteran Burgess Meredith provides narration.
Warner Home Video has made TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. For a film rapidly encroaching on its twenty-fifth anniversary, I give the presentation high marks. In general, TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE looks very good on DVD; sure it isnít demo material, but itís an anthology film with four different directors who have four different visual styles. Sharpness and image detail is variable, but it is never less than good. Colors offer a good level of saturation, especially the cartoony color palette of segment three. Blacks are accurate, as are the whites. Contrast is fine and shadow detail is better than average. The image can be grainy, but the print flaws are minimal. Digital compression artifacts are usually out of sight, but the foggier moments can be somewhat challenging.
For this release, TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE comes with a remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. Considering the filmís age, the remixed track gets the job done. As expected, the forward soundstage dominates the sound mix, although the rear channels do add some atmosphere and musical fill, not to mention, occasional active effects. Channel separation is more than respectable across the front. Additionally, fidelity is decent for a film of this vintage, although some of the sound effects lack weight. Dialogue is always completely intelligible and the voices come across in a reasonably natural manner. An English Dolby Surround track has also been provided, as have French and Spanish monaural tracks. English, Chinese and Portuguese subtitles are also present.
The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a theatrical trailer.
With two hits and two misfires, TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE is still running at fifty percent. Warnerís DVD presentation is good as it gets for NTSC. The film will also be available in hi-def.
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