Tuesday, August 03, 2010

There is Nothing Wrong with Your Movie Projector...

Well, last week in my cult tv flashback for "The Zanti Misfits" on The Outer Limits, I noted that a feature film remake of The Twilight Zone was in the offing (with Di Caprio involved) and that, given this fact, The Outer Limits wouldn't be far behind for the same big screen treatment.


This morning, various sources are reporting that MGM is in the process of producing a film based on the early 1960s sci-fi/horror, Stefano anthology. The news (from SlashFilm):

Variety estimates the deal to be in the mid-six figures — MGM has hired screenwriters Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan to pen the script. The screenwriting duo was discovered during Project Greenlight and penned all three of the Feast films, as well as Saw IV, V, VI and the upcoming Saw 3D).

I just hope these authors remember (or learn) that The Outer Limits is horror with a distinctly sci-fi bent, and the subject matter is universally the human condition; and how scientific advancement can also create...fear.

And, as I wrote yesterday, these late 1950s-early 1960s anthologies are so fondly remembered not only for their subject matter and intelligent approach, but their black-and-white, almost expressionist presentation.

It could be very interesting (if problematic...) to see how this notion gets translated to the modern cinema. Some episodes of The Outer Limits, including "The Zanti Misfits," would certainly make terrific feature-length tales.

But the upshot is that next summer, you may be choosing which classic TV anthology to see on the big screen, The Outer Limits or The Twilight Zone.

If so, then this may also be the time for a One Step Beyond movie...


  1. In many ways I've always thought The OL was a superior show to TZ...particularly in its 1st season. I know they are sort of "apples&oranges" but the OL did sci-fi much better imo.

    Great blog JKM...just got hep to it thru kindertrauma.

  2. Hi Indianhoop, and welcome! I'm glad you stopped by and left a comment.

    I think you make a good point.

    The first season of The Outer Limits was extraordinary, and it had an hour (as opposed to 30 minutes) each week to tell a sci-fi/horror story.

    Of course, I love the hell out of the Twilight Zone (and Rod Serling's brilliant creative voice), but the Twilight Zone veers more regularly from fantasy to horror to sci-fi to comedy, and the episodes play more like (classic), almost literary parables.

    As you say, apples and oranges. Both shows are really great.

    Best -- and welcome!


  3. I have equally both high and low expectations to a OUTER LIMITS movie, John. That is because, in my youth, I was more of an avid OL watcher. It was on for a shorter stint than THE TWILIGHT ZONE, but its sci-fi/horror bent and its hour format really appealed to this kid. That, and how intelligent its writing was. I'm not detracting the brilliance of TZ in any way when I say that. It's just how much I admire of that Leslie Stevens created series, and to all of those (especially Joseph Stefano, writer Harlan Ellison, cinematographer Conrad Hall) who contributed to its greatness.

    Now, can the studios screw it up, royally? I think it safe to say (along with others): YES. Do I want them to? NO. So, I find myself in a very similar position decades later. THEY are controlling transmission, and THEY "will control all that you see and hear." I can only hope to "to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to... The Outer Limits." Sorry, I couldn't help myself. ;-)

    Thanks, my friend.

  4. There's a great book by David Hughes called "The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made" that has a chapter on the last time they tried to make an Outer Limits movie. As the title of the book probably indicates, it went nowhere. The problem, as I recall, is that the producers on both Outer Limits series were involved, nobody could agree on anything, and the studio wanted something Independence Day-y.

  5. I think it's time for a Tales from the Crypt movie!. . .what's that. . .oh, there were. . .*ahem*. . .oh yeah, I mentally blocked those out. Never mind.

    All I know is that if I'm a stuntman or a child actor I'm going to be very hesitant to sign a contract for a TZ movie, if you catch my drift.

    I'd be more excited to see a OL movie mainly because a TZ movie (as we've seen before) always has to LIVE UP to the original show where an OL movie, based on a less popular show, can have a chance to stand on it's own. Also, am I crazy for kind of liking the OL from the 90s?

  6. Grayson5:16 PM

    le0pard13 said:
    "It's just how much I admire of that Leslie Stevens created series, and to all of those (especially Joseph Stefano, writer Harlan Ellison, cinematographer Conrad Hall) who contributed to its greatness."

    I'd love to see Harlan write an OL film.

  7. Thanks for the welcome John. I'm astounded at how similar our likes are in sci-fi, horror, comedy etc. Can't wait to read more of your stuff here and elsewhere.

    Will, I too liked a lot of the 90's OL on Showtime. There were some cheesy eps, but the ones they did well, they did very well. I also liked how there was a fair amount of "call-backs" to earlier eps in that particular series.

  8. Anonymous11:58 PM

    The one thing that makes me leary about the OL movie is it's writers. The Saw movies are dreadful and the whole franchise should have stopped after the first, which was the only movie in history that when I saw the ending that I actually responded by saying "Mutha F****r!" as I never saw it coming.
    Are you serious with the whole Saw 3D thing? Lars NO! M O O N spells don't make another Saw movie!!!

    I hope both the TZ and OL flicks are good and I would love (and cringe) at having the Misfits on the screen, though they'd probably be CGI'ed to death. On the TZ side, I would love to see To Serve Man simply because that is my absolute favorite cook book ever! You wouldn't believe what you can make with pita bread, white wine, and a D list actors ...I got my eye on you Mario Lopez >;)
    Ooooo...One Step Beyond...loved that show!
    Dreaded Dreams
    Petunia Scareum

    btw, everytime I see those orkin commercials with the giant bug...I think of Zanti Misfits...way to creepy.

  9. Hi everyone,

    Le0pard13: I think too that it may be easier to capture the voice of The Outer Limits because it isn't quite as distinctive as the voice we associate with Rod Serling's TZone. If the filmmakers picked a trademark OL, like Zanti, or Galaxy Being, or something like that, and updated it...who knows. Like you, I am willing to be hopeful!

    Nate: I had no idea there had been an attempt at an Outer Limits movie before. But something Independence Day-esque sounds absolutely dreadful. Yikes.

    Will: You bring up some good history here, about TV anthologies making the leap to film. Tales from The Crypt did okay with Demon Knight but Bordello of Blood was absolutely awful. I hope an Outer Limits movie would be pitched higher!

    more to come...

  10. Grayson: I would love to see a Harlan Ellison story adapted to an Outer Limits film, even Soldier, but better yet: Demon with a Glass Hand. That would be truly amazing.

    Indianhoop: It seems like we do have similar tastes! Are you a 40 year old geek like me? :) No, but seriously, I remember watching the 1990s Outer Limits program quite a bit. Haven't seen it in years, but back in the 1990s, I felt that several episodes were actually pretty stellar.

    Trick or Treat Pete: I am not yet sold on these writers for this particular property either. The Outer Limits was always sort of an exercise in very cerebral, very remote horror (Think The Sixth Finger). I wouldn't want that to change, and we've yet to see these guys do something in that more restrained, more cerebral vein. I hope they make the adjustment well.

    I would love The Twilight Zone to do a "To Serve Man" story. That would be awesome! And hell, why not an OSB movie?

    Thank you all for your great comments on this post. You are all the best!


  11. Anonymous10:18 PM

    tdraicer: One of my favorite Outer Limits was the initially creepy and finally very moving two-parter The Inheritors (I think I have that title right) featuring Robert Duvall. What for most of its length seems a The Puppet Masters premise takes an unexpected twist at the end. (I also believe it was the only two part Outer Limits.)

    But I'm also confident today's movemakers would screw it up.


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