The Greatest Horror Movie Moments!
by: -RoG-

Twilight Zone: The Movie

Who didn't love the original Twilight Zone series? I sure did, and I always loved Twilight Zone: The Movie when I was a kid too, as I was a big fan of any anthology flicks like Creepshow. Being so young when it came out, however, I didn't know about the tragedy which completely overshadowed the film itself. For those of you who don't know the history behind this film, actor Vic Morrow and two illegally hired child actors were killed by a helicopter that crashed into them while they were filming one of the war scenes. There's a very interesting story behind the tragedy, with clear signs of negligence all the way, so I highly recommend reading all about it here.

Despite the tragic demise of Morrow and the two children, there were some genuinely entertaining segments in Twilight Zone: The Movie, and having it narrated by the late, great Burgess Meredith certainly didn't hurt things either. The first segment (starring Morrow) is about a bitter old racist who gets his comeuppance. The second is about elderly people in a retirement home getting to relive their youths. The third is about a kid with unlimited powers who has gotten completely out of control. All fine segments, but to me, nothing compared to the fourth and final segment - which is a remake of the infamous "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" episode of the Twilight Zone starring William Shatner (and you should absolutely watch that version as well). So let's get right into it.

Aww... I'm sure he's just a little airsick.

In this segment written by Richard Matheson (The Omega Man) and directed by George Miller (Mad Max), the character John Valentine (John Lithgow) is an extremely nervous guy when it comes to flying, and he's currently on a red-eye flight in the middle of a severe storm. He tries rationalizing things, smoking, taking his medication and more, but nothing seems to ease his mind. And that's when it happens...

Mother Nature... she ain't pretty.

With the plane seemingly having all kinds of difficulty, he looks out his window and nothing what appears to be some kind of human-like figure out on the wing. Naturally, he thinks he's hallucinating at first, but when he puts on his glasses and looks again, he sees the figure summoning lightning and using it to strike at one of the engines. He's now convinced that a man is really out there, however impossible it may be, so he jumps out of his seat and screams, "There's a man on the wing of this plane!" Of course, all the passengers look out their windows, but the man is nowhere to be seen, so everybody thinks John is just a nutjob with an intense fear of flying.

Long as I have my blankee, I'm perfectly safe. :(

He soon feels like an idiot, "Can you imagine, a naked man crawling along the wing of an airplane?" he laughs at himself and pulls the blind on his window shut. Still, after some time passes, he can't help but take another peek out his window, and guess who's waiting righ tthere for him as soon as he opens the window?

Peek-a-boo! I see you!

The man from the wing, who appears to be some kind of insane gremlin (no, not like Stripe), clearly loves taunting John to the point that his eyes actually pop out of his head for a moment. No, really...

Looks like somebody needs to pay a visit to his optometrist.

He freaks out and then they try to put him at ease once again. It goes back and forth like this for a while, with John seeing the man on the wing and then second guessing himself, until he eventually becomes so absolutely convinced about it, that he tries busting out the window and an air marshall tries to subdue him. During the struggle, he manages to grab a gun from the air marshall and he then shoots out the window. He's almost sucked out of the window, but the air marshall holds onto him, and while he's dangling out of the window, John takes a shot at the gremlin on the wing.

After being hit with a bullet, in an absolutely classic moment, the gremlin flies right up to John, crushes his gun as if it were made of paper, grabs his face and then does this before flying off into the night:

Tsk, tsk, tsk! You've been a vewwwy bad boy!

It's a totally unexpected moment in a segment about a guy who has been white-knuckling it all night long on an incredibly frightening flight. The comical expression on the gremlin's face, combined with the wagging finger gesture as if it's treating John like he's been a bad little boy, still cracks me up to this day. And yet, that whole story somehow managed to give me nightmares when I was younger. Go figure.

Well anyway, the segment ends with John getting carted off in a strait-jacket, but as the plane is inspected by the ground crew, they discover that he wasn't crazy at all when they see all the scratches and damage done by the gremlin:

I'm not sure if even a scrapyard would take this thing now.

If there's anything that ever made me afraid of flying at night when I was a kid, it's this segment from the Twilight Zone movie. Even now as an alleged adult, if I'm flying at night, I still peek outside my window here 'n there just to make sure that nasty ol' gremlin isn't clawing away at the plane.

Have any questions or comments about this piece?


Reader Comments

Crazed Techno-Biologist
Sep 9th, 2010, 05:35 AM
Honestly that really is terrifying. I remember the first time I ever flew, I spent a good deal of time staring out the plane window just in case there was a gremlin. Damn gremlins
The stealer of Pies
Sep 9th, 2010, 09:46 AM
the simpsons parody of this was the best one ever and never fails to crack me up!
Dr Tongue's 3D House
Sep 9th, 2010, 10:07 AM
Love the Shatner version as well
Commarade General
Sep 9th, 2010, 01:38 PM
I loved when playing "The Big Giant Head" in Third Rock From The Sun William Shatner arrived to Dick Solomon's (John Lithgow) college office and said he had a terrible flight, Lithgow tells something on the lines that he hates flying because he always sees little men in the ship's wings and Shatner, using his famed Shatneresque delivery, asks "You... saw him... too?".

Great reference to this story in both TV and film versions.
Ba-dum-tish. RIMSHOT!
Sep 9th, 2010, 01:43 PM
Always a classic.
Sep 9th, 2010, 07:06 PM
John Lithgow is great, as always in this one.
The Claw of Justice
Sep 9th, 2010, 11:08 PM
Okay, you had me until the eye-popping thing.
Forum Virgin
Sep 10th, 2010, 12:07 PM
As much as I loved this part, I still think the best bit was at the beginning when Dan Akroyd pulls over and asks if the guy wants to see something really scary.
Sep 11th, 2010, 02:44 AM
A really classic movie from the 80"s. The scary parts for me were the Prologue The Epilogue and the remake of Nightmare at 20'000 Ft. (I see a bad moon rising)
Cranberry Everything
Sep 11th, 2010, 02:11 PM
It's almost impossible for me to pick a best moment from this movie (though the wagging finger is a fine choice).
So many great moments in this film. "Hey, you want to see something really scary?"
Sep 12th, 2010, 07:41 PM
I like the Robot Chicken version best.

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