An Anthology Film based on the 1959 Twilight Zone television series, released in 1983. It follows the show's anthology format by presenting four segments (all but one remakes of classic episodes), which are directed by four different directors.
- "Prologue" (Directed by John Landis): Two men discuss old television shows.
- "Time Out" (Directed by John Landis): A bigot is taught a fantastic lesson as he finds himself traveling through time and hunted down for being a minority (a Jew in Nazi Germany, a black man living in the Deep South during the 1950's, and a Vietnamese man during The Vietnam War)
- "Kick the Can" (Directed by Steven Spielberg): A mysterious man arrives at a retirement home and shows its inhabitants how to be young again.
- "It's a Good Life" (Directed by Joe Dante): A woman meets a young boy who has a very special power, which he uses to hold his family in a grip of terror.
- "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"/"Epilogue" (Directed by George Miller): A man who is scared of flying finds out that the plane he is in is being sabotaged by a gremlin.
This film became infamous for a ghastly accident that took the life of Vic Morrow and two child actors. The script for "Time Out" called for a scene in which Morrow's character is supposed to be carrying two Vietnamese children across a river to safety during an American bombing raid in Vietnam. Director John Landis was shooting late at night, violating child labor laws, and ignoring the helicopter pilot's concerns about flying so close to the ground and so close to explosive detonations. The cameras rolled anyway, and the explosive charges meant to simulate bombs caused the helicopter to crash, crushing one child under its landing skid and decapitating Morrow and the other child. Landis was later tried and acquitted on charges of involuntary manslaughter.
The tropes covering the film as a whole:
- No Antagonist: All but the final segment.
- Remake Cameo:
- Burgess Meredith, who starred in four episodes of the series, including the all-time classic "Time Enough at Last", is the Narrator of the film.
- Rod Serling's wife Carol has a cameo as an airline passenger in "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet".
- Bill Mumy, who played the creepy omnipotent boy in the original episode "It's a Good Life", plays a diner patron in this film's adaptation.
- Jump Scare: The segment ends with hitchhiker revealing his Nightmare Face to the driver.
- Lightmare Fuel / Schmuck Bait: "You wanna see something really scary?"
- Mythology Gag: The segment references many episodes of the series and the characters involved debate if "A Kind of a Stopwatch" was a Zone or an Outer Limits.note
- Recursive Canon: Played with, as the characters discuss the old TV series before a Twist Ending reveals they're in the Zone. Granted, if any franchise was tailor-made to mess around with this stuff, this one's it!
- Aborted Arc: Vic Morrow's death changed the segment's ending from "protagonist goes back to his time learning his lesson" into "protagonist goes back to the 1940s and is sent to a concentration camp".
- Actor Allusion: Vic Morrow encountering Nazis in WWII France, where did we hear that before?
- Call-Back/Shout-Out: The GIs who are lost in The Vietnam War part argue if they should have fragged Niedermeyer, calling back to Landis' Animal House.
- Color Me Black: Bill finds himself placed in the fates of various oppressed minorities, first a Jew being chased by the SS in occupied France, then a black man hunted by the KKK in the 1940s, next a North Vietnamese man facing American troops and ultimately as a German Jew sent off to a concentration camp.
- Language Barrier: Bill, when he is sent back in time to Nazi Germany and questioned in German.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Shockingly, the only segment that portrays this trope.
- No Ending: See Aborted Arc.
- One Character, Multiple Lives: the main character is shuttled back and forth in time to live lives as a Jewish, black, and Vietnamese person, during the worst times to be part of their minorities respectively.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: See Aborted Arc above.
- Villain Protagonist: Bill, since his supposed development to stop being a racist was cut out.
"Kick the Can"
- Angel Unaware: Strongly hinted of Mr. Bloom.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Watching Mr. Conroy playing Kick the Can, Mr. Bloom then turns to the camera and smiles, saying, "He'll get it!"
- Breather Episode: Spielberg directed the lone segment that isn't scary.
- Game Show Appearance: Brief clips from the April 24, 1974 episode of the original Jeopardy! appear during the segment.
- Never Found the Body: Young Mr. Agee just runs off, confusing the hell out of the nurses the next day.
- Please Don't Leave Me: Leo Conroy begs this of a young Mr. Agee.
- Reality Ensues: After the elderly people become young they wonder who will take care of them now and what they'll do now that they're kids, so all but one decide to just go back to being old again. The original episode left it more open-ended but we were left to assume the magic only works one-way.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: Before leaving Sunnyvale, Mr. Bloom promises that old man Conroy will soon get his own chance to be young again.
"It's a Good Life"
- Adapted Out: Anthony's mother.
- Closed Circle: Anthony's house, while the town only know that something strange goes on there.
- Eldritch Location: Anthony's house looks normal (even though it's based on a subtle cartoon design), its upper floor is gray and very Tim Burton-esque with a portrait of a family of blank faces. According to Ethel, that's his real family.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: "Th-th-th-th-that's all, Ethel."
- Giant Eye of Doom: Helen meets one when she tries to leave the house.
- Hair-Raising Hare: Anthony asks his uncle to pull a rabbit out of a hat as a magic trick, then the rabbit turns into a hairless, hulking, snarling monstrosity before it goes back into the hat.
- Mythology Gag: Helen mentions going on her way to Willoughby, referencing the original episode, "A Stop at Willoughby".
- Obliviously Evil: Anthony wants to be a good little boy, but his "family" is so terrified of him that they don't set any limits on his actions.
- Reality Warper: Anthony.
- Reset Button: Pressed by Anthony, sending the people he tormented back to wherever they belonged.
- Shout-Out: Helen Foley shares a name with the main character in the original series episode "Nightmare as a Child".
- Stepford Smiler: Anthony's "family". No bad emotions allowed.
- Toon Town and Toon Physics: Anthony brings a cartoon character to terrorize the characters.
- Trapped in TV Land: Anthony sends his sister into a cartoon world to be eaten.
- Wipe That Smile Off Your Face: Anthony did this to his other sister.
"Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" / Epilogue
- Adapted Out: The wife of the protagonist.
- Adaptational Name Change: Bob Wilson (the protagonist of the episode this segment was based upon) becomes John Valentine.
- Bittersweet Ending: John saves the plane from being destroyed, but he's hauled away as a crazy person in an ambulance. And unlike the TV episode, in which the protagonist killed the gremlin, this one is at best mildly inconvenienced and is still flying around up there somewhere. Also, we actually get to see the passengers on the plane discover the damage done to the wing.
- Book-Ends: The ambulance that John is placed in is driven by the hitchhiker from the prologue, who pops in "Midnight Special", asks him if he "wants to see something really scary".
- Explosive Decompression: John grabs an air marshal's gun, and shoots the window, which causes this, forcing the plane to land, ruining the gremlin's plans.
- Eye Pop: When John removes the cover from his window, the gremlin is behind it, which makes him do this briefly.
- For the Evulz: Strongly implied to be the "reason" for the gremlin's attack. When it sees it has a single witness, it starts showing off, just for him.
- Graceful Loser: Realizing that its window of opportunity to drop the plane is closed, the gremlin grins and wags its finger at Valentine before flying away.
- Griping About Gremlins: The villain of the piece, obviously.
- Immune to Bullets: The Gremlin shrugs off Valentine shooting it with the aforementioned gun.
- Not-So-Imaginary Friend: Though "friend" is probably the last word that John would use.
- Spared by the Adaptation: As noted above, the gremlin.