Kick the Can (and kick that horrible Twilight Zone movie)

kickcanLast night I rewatched some of Twilight Zone: The Movie– in particular the dreadful prologue featuring Dan Aykroyd and the Kick the Can segment directed by Steven Spielberg. Its a pretty miserable, leaden movie, with the awful on-set accident that killed actor Vic Morrow and two children hanging over the whole enterprise like some terrible spectre. Indeed, considering that accident it is a wonder the film ever got released at all- it would have been little loss to film, as it turned out.

The film made money though, enough to ensure a 1980s revival of the show got made. But in truth it’s a poor imitation of the classic original show.  I know there is much appreciation for the segment that remakes the Nightmare at 20,000 feet episode, but I didn’t get that far into the movie.  In truth, the only reason I watched the Kick the Can segment was Jerry Goldsmith’s music. I remember watching the Twilight Zone: The Movie for the first time decades ago when it was aired on television, and that Goldsmith score was really the only thing that really caught my attention in any favourable way. Eventually I bought the FSM CD, pretty much solely due to Goldsmiths score for that segment. Its a tender, romantic sequence of music, perhaps a little over the saccharin limit for most tastes, perhaps as excessive as Spielberg’s particularly unsubtle direction. Indeed, watching it again last night, it seemed obvious to me that this segment highlights all the worst shortcomings of Spielberg back then. But anyway, I watched it again just to see a reminder of how Goldsmith’s score functioned within it.

Its such a genuinely 1980s movie. The ‘look’, how it sounds, the actors featured, the directors involved. It really should have been a better movie considering the talent. It really should have had more bite. Probably would have been better served by having original stories rather than remaking episodes from the classic series. You can’t capture ‘lightning in a bottle’ twice, and it is clear that the black and white photography really allowed the original a life and mood utterly lost by bringing it into colour and a modern setting. The stories should be universal, yes, but it clearly doesn’t work, remaking them- the truth is, its the episodes that are universal.

I have the complete classic series on Blu-ray on the shelf. I really should return to them, if ever time allows. But this movie? Wouldn’t be surprised if I never watch any of it ever again. Its done.

4 thoughts on “Kick the Can (and kick that horrible Twilight Zone movie)

  1. This, 1941, and probably E.T. are the only things left on my Spielberg watchlist. So, yeah, I’m saving E.T. for last. (I feel like I must’ve seen it when I was a child, but I don’t actually remember watching it, so…)

    1. I have E.T. on a steelbook edition from a few years back- still haven’t watched the disc yet although I of course have seen the film a few times over the years. Actually hated the film back in 1982, as Blade Runner rather suffered, like Carpenter’s The Thing, a backlash for being too dark after the feel-good warmth of E.T.’;s summer. I’ve often been curious to rewatch the film but just haven’t gotten around to it.

  2. Matthew McKinnon

    I have seen this, but I have no memory of where or when [never a good sign].

    I’ve meant to revisit it since reading the hideous story of the ‘accident’ [], but you’ve convinced me not to.

    1. The film really should never been released. I know I’m not speaking from an authoritative position, having only read reports over the years, but to my mind its really scandalous that no-one was held culpable for that accident- everyone went on with their careers and the film was released and made the studio some money. Its a pretty poor movie, the least that the studio could have done would be to shelve it somewhere. I mean, they even had the temerity to include that segment of the movie, just re-edited it with a new ending! At least drop that segment and shoot something else, surely…Shameful. Shameful business.

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