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How A Star And Two Children Were Killed On The Set Of 'The Twilight Zone'

Updated March 23, 2021 238.5k views10 items

One of the worst movie set accidents ever occurred during the filming of Twilight Zone: The Movie. The film is now mainly remembered for its tragic behind the scenes story. Steven Spielberg decided to make the hit television show into a motion picture and he enlisted three other directors to create segments of the film. John Landis, who was a hot commodity after Animal House and The Blues Brothers, was given "Time Out." In this segment, a man tries to make up for past sins by becoming a hero.

No one could have predicted, though, the tragedy that would plague John Landis's direction. Three people were killed during filming; actor Vic Morrow was carrying two children across a river when a stunt went wrong and a helicopter fell on top of them. Landis became the first movie director to be charged with involuntary manslaughter on set and he went to trial several years later. While this film was not the first to have an actor die during filming, its unfortunate accidents did spur Hollywood to change their safety laws for the better.

  • John Landis Has Been Called Arrogant By His Co-Workers And Was Known For Being Reckless

    Photo: Giorgio Montersino / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

    John Landis began filming Twilight Zone with a healthy career, having hits like Animal House and The Blue Brothers on his resume. He was in his early thirties and highly in demand as a director. However, some people that have worked with Landis have called him arrogant and said that the director could be extremely reckless and stubborn when he wanted something filmed a certain way.

    One story claims that he told crew members to climb thirty feet of scaffolding and be blown around by helicopter rotors to fix the lighting while filming Twilight Zone. When they questioned his request, Landis allegedly called them "chickensh*t." 

  • The Helicopter Scene Was Edited Out And The Movie Was Still Released In Theaters As Planned

    Despite the horrible deaths, the movie was still released in theaters. Since Twilight Zone is composed of four segments created by different directors, the entire film didn't have to be changed. However, the scenes featuring the helicopter accident were obviously cut and any mention of the children were edited out of John Landis's segment. Stars such as Dan Aykroyd, Albert Brooks, and John Lithgow participated in the film but it wasn't well received by critics and it made much less money than expected.