“When you think about ‘The Twilight Zone,’ you really only think about one thing, and that’s Rod Serling.” So claims director Joe Dante (“The Howling,” “Gremlins”) in a rarely seen 1982 behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of “Twilight Zone: The Movie.”
An anthology horror film, “Twilight Zone: The Movie” opened on June 24, 1983 and featured four segments, each directed by a different person. John Landis, Steven Spielberg, and George Miller rounded out the quartet (along with Dante). Of the four parts, Landis’—“Time Out”—was the only original story, loosely based on an earlier “Twilight Zone” episode. The other three were remakes of classic Serling episodes.
As much as the short documentary is about “Twilight Zone: The Movie,” it’s also about the art of directing. Surprisingly edifying for barely a dozen minutes, it offers a great look at how four well-known directors went about their craft—then with three decades less experience. Spielberg’s discussion of working with child actors is just as fascinating as any DVD extra he provides now.
Miller’s segment, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” perhaps equally famous for the parody treatment it received in “The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror IV,” gives fans a window-seat to the making of the piece’s iconic gremlin. The demonic creature that destroys an airplane had to be terrifying and compact, and the documentary shows us how make-up and effects designer Craig Reardon achieved both goals.
Check out the documentary below, and while you’re at it, why not watch “Twilight Zone: The Movie” too. [Eyes On Cinema]