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Amazing Stories: the Movie (1985-87)


"I dream for a living." Steven Spielberg
As a kid, Steven Spielberg loved The Twilight Zone, One Step Beyond, and Outer Limits. In 1969 he directed the pilot movie for Night Gallery. He also directed several episodes of Columbo, then eventually left TV for Hollywood movies. In 1985, NBC offered to let him do a new anthology fantasy, with a guarantee of two years no matter what the ratings were. The per-hour budget was a record $1,000,000 each all but two episodes were 30-minute). But after two years, the ratings hadn't improved and there was no third season. After a run on the BBC in 1992, there were little prospects of selling reruns, so the 30-minute episodes were re-edited into TV-movies and still show up that way on cable now and then. All 5 movies are available on VHS videotapes, but so far only the first season is available on DVD.
There are two versions: the 90-minute version consists of "The Mission" and "The Wedding Ring," and an edit that runs two hours consisting of "The Mission" and "Go To The Head Of The Class." (1) The Mission, directed by Spielberg. A crippled WW2 bomber returning to base no longer has landing gear, and the turret gunner is trapped under the belly, facing an agonizing gory death when they land without wheels. He desperately draws cartoon tires (ala Who Framed Roger Rabbit) but is running out of time. Kevin Costner, Kiefer Sutherland
(2) Go To The Head Of The Class, dir. by Robert Zemeckis. A teen horror fan uses black magic to decapitate his hated English teacher (Christopher Lloyd) but the plan doesn't exactly turn out as planned.

Amazing Stories: the Movie 2

(1) Santa, starring Douglas Seale as Kris Kringle, who's arrested when a home burglar alarm goes off while delivering gifts. Sheriff: Pat Hingle
(2) The Wedding Ring, starring real-life husband & wife Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman, also directed by DeVito. He steals the gold ring from a wax museum's Black Widow Killer and gives it to his wife, not knowing it still contains the killer's evil spirit.
(3) Ghost Train, dir. by Spielberg. 75 years ago, Grandpa caused a train wreck and is convinced the train will return soon so he can finally get aboard like he was supposed to then. The house he lives in was built over the old railroad right-of-way so he can't miss it. This story was the first episode of the original TV-series. For the final scene, of the locomotive smashing thru the living room and coming to a stop so he can board it, Spielberg had an entire wooden house specially built on the track of the train he (as Producer) and Zemeckis (as Director) used again for "Back To The Future 3" much later
(4) The Doll, written by Richard Matheson. John Lithgow of Raising Cain as a shy bachelor who buys a special doll from a mysterious German dollmaker

Amazing Stories: the Movie 3

(1) Mummy Daddy, from a story by Spielberg. A man dressed as a mummy for a movie role, causes a panic when he tries to get across town to where his wife is going into labor
(2) Family Dog, an animated episode that ran near the end of the second season, written & directed by Brad Bird of "The Incredibles." Three tales as seen by the family dog. Voices: Stan Freberg, Annie Potts of "Ghostbusters," Mercedes McCambridge
(3) Remote Control Man, from a story by Spielberg. A man with a nagging wife finds he can bring friends out of the TV with his special remote control. Cameos by Ed McMahon, Gary Coleman and Dirk Benedict (Battlestar Galactica, The A Team) as themselves. Sort of the reverse of more recent movie Pleasantville
(4) Guilt Trip, dir. by Burt Reynolds. Guilt (Dom DeLuise) takes a holiday and falls for Lovely (Loni Anderson), who isn't exactly what she seems. Charles Durning, Abbe Lane, Fritz Feld, Charles Nelson Reilly

Amazing Stories: the Movie 4

(1) Life On Death Row. A murderer facing execution finds he can heal with his touch, similar to Stephen King's "The Green Mile" movie 13 years later
(2) Mirror Mirror, dir. by Martin Scorsese. A horror novelist (Sam Waterston) sees a black-caped phantom behind him whenever he looks in a mirror. Helen Shaver as Karen, Tim Robbins as the phantom, Dick Cavett as himself
(3) The Amazing Falsworth, a blindfolded nightclub psychic, picks up a serial killer's thoughts in the room but doesn't know which audience member it is
(4) Vanessa In The Garden, dir. by Clint Eastwood.

Amazing Stories: the Movie 5

(1) The Sitter, a Jamaican babysitter who uses voodoo to tame a couple of prank-playing boys. Mable King, with Michael Horse as the Indian
(2) Grandpa's Ghost, still talking to his unknowing wife and playing the piano. Andrew McCarthy, Ian Wolfe, Herta Ware
(3) Dorothy & Ben. After 40 years in a coma, Ben wakes up and has a mental communication link with a comatose 7-year-old. Joe Seneca, Joe Regalbuto, Lane Smith
(4) Gershwin's Trunk, a Broadway composer hires a psychic to contact the great George Gershwin for help. Bob Balaban, Carrie Fisher, Lainie Kazan, Paul Bartel

Amazing Stories: the Movie 6

(1) The Main Attraction. A meteor shower turns the high school hunk into a human magnet with a strong attraction to the school's least attractive girl
(2) Gather Ye Acorns, an oddball story about a boy who follows a tree troll's advice and lives a lonely life with no friends or career, just his boyhod possessions. Finally as an old man, he gets rich by selling them as collectibles. Mark Hamill, David Rappaport, Forest Whitaker
(3) You Gotta Believe Me. A man races to the airport to change fate after dreaming that a jetliner will hit his house. Charles Durning, Drunk pilot: Wil Shriner (director of 2006's "Hoot")
(4) Lane Change. A woman picks up a mysterious lady on a desolate road one dark and stormy night, and sees her own past in the windshield

"Amazing Stories" availability on video and on DVD from Amazon.com


Fun fact:
Batteries Not Included (1987) was written by Spielberg as an episode of Amazing Stories, but held back when he decided it would be better as a theatrical movie.

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Bill Laidlaw. All Rights Reserved. That's my 2 worth