Saturday, December 5, 2009

The New Twilight Zone (well new in 1985)

I remember when this show aired I was super into it. The original TZ was a huge part of how I discovered horror fiction. It was where I first fell in love with the the weird tale. It is how I discovered Richard Matheson who I began to read at the same time as Clive Barker and Stephen King. It was at this same time that CBS launched a new attempt at the TZ.

I have not seen many of the episodes since they were first on in the eighties but much like the OG Twilight zone many of the imagines like the the Button unit and the last shot of the nuclear warhead in the time freeze episode stayed in my memory. I remembered the episode nightcrawlers and Gramma for being super intense.

After months of requesting it at both videos I go to here in Portland(movie maddess and Clinton Street video) movie maddess got all three season of the 80's TZ. So over thanksgiving weekend I watched most of season one. I was worried it would not live up to my memories of the show. Some of the episodes were super awful and some were really great.

Writers it's worth a rental for the commentary tracks alone. Wes Craven and Harlan Ellison commentary tracks are pretty priceless. Some times they comment on the same episodes and it is awesome to see how differently they remember the process. As a commentary track junkie I was surprised by Wes Craven who useless commentary on the orginal nightmare on Elm Street left me wondering if he remembered making that movie at all. Harlan Ellison(Trademark) in his old jewish bombastic ego tripping way has a lot of wonderful things to to teach writers.

The best episode without a doubt is Nightcrawlers based on The amazing Robert McCammon short story. I tried to find a clip on line. Directed by William Friedkin (The exorcist, French Connection) this episode is horrorific and it's hard to believe it was on a 8 pm in 1985.

in the 80's remake of the zone they did everything right that UPN did wrong in the recent remake. First off as Ellison points out they remembered that TZ is a writers show. They bought short stories by published established genre authors inside of picking some wanna be screenwriter they met in line at the Beverley hills coffee bean and tea leaf. This meant episodes based on short stories by Harlan Ellison(who was a creative consultant and writer on the show), Stephen King, George RR Martin, Richard Matheson and Ray Bradbury.

Next they hired established genre directors like William Friedkin, Wes Craven, and Tommy Lee Wallace (he wasn't great but he worked for John Carpenter). They hired established actors some before they were famous like Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman, but they were not cheap about it.

Over all I think the 80's Twilight zone is worth a rental. Here are some that I found online.

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