It's a pretty sure bet that 1983's "Twilight Zone: The Movie" will go down in history for its horrible on-set accident that killed Vic Morrow and two child actors. But if that hadn't happened, the flick may have earned a reputation as a pretty nice homage to the black-and-white TV series. It featured four remakes of famous "Zone" plots, each by a famous director, plus an intro with Dan Aykroyd and Albert Brooks. (The segment starring Morrow, directed by John Landis, was apparently not actually a remake, but loosely based on a pair of "Twilight Zone" episodes.)
Steven Spielberg’s segment, "Kick the Can," starring Scatman Crothers, is a sweet but not really fulfilling episode about retirement-home residents who find their inner children. And "Gremlins" director Joe Dante's redo of the “It’s a Good Life” episode, with Anthony wishing people into the cornfield, is plenty weird and creepy. This version starred future Oscar nominee Kathleen Quinlan and “Valerie’s Family” kid Jeremy Licht, plus Bart Simpson himself, Nancy Cartwright, as his sister Ethel.
The final segment, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” -- with John Lithgow stepping into the role that William Shatner originally hammed up -- is especially creepy, and wins extra points for what happened afterwards: When Shatner later guested on Lithgow's “Third Rock from the Sun,” their characters joked about both seeing a gremlin on the wing of a plane. Totally meta -- Rod Serling would have been proud.
Here's what Siskel and Ebert had to say about the movie: