REVIEW Twilight Zone: "It's a good life"

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Contently Deranged Travelers
I review and compare the original twilight zone episode (1961) to the remake (1983)

Submitted: February 25, 2016

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Submitted: February 25, 2016

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Twilight Zone, “It’s a good life : Review

Original 1961 summary: “On an isolated family farm, a young boy named Anthony has vast mental powers, but lacks emotional development, he holds his terrified family in thrall to his every juvenile wish. It takes place in a small farming community in Ohio. Anthony has the ability to command anything he wants simply by thought. The community is cut off from the outside world and the boy insists that those around him think only pleasant thoughts, and if they don't, he eliminates them. Everyone walks in fear of the kid.” (not my words)

1983 remake summary: “Anthony, a boy with god-like powers purposely rams his bike into a lady’s car so she would give him a ride home and then he could keep her with the rest of his “family”- who does whatever he says and pretends to be happy for him so they don’t get hurt. The poor lady didn’t know what she was getting herself into,  Anthony is not an innocent boy at all.”

 

1983- “Twilight Zone: The Movie”

"Twilight Zone: The movie" is a remake of three original twilight zone episodes (“Time out”, “Kick the can” and” it’s a good life”). Plus another original short film at the end.

I’m only going to review , “It’s a good life.” And compare it to the original that aired in 1961.

This movie was enjoyable to me initially because of the nostalgia (I remember watching the 1983 version featured on “Twilight zone: The movie” as a kid) It’s not only creepy but it's also strangely amusing and intriguing, especially since I went back and watched it again.

I prefer the 1983 version because it was the first version I ever watched and I think that it portrays the concept in a better way; it allows the story to unravel by itself, compared to the original which has narration at the beginning describing who everybody was and what the episode was going to be about. Usually, I don’t mind it but in this case it’s better if the viewer infers, it gives it more of a shock value once they find out who the kid really is. Plus the original seemed rushed. I’m not saying I didn’t like it, I’m just saying I prefer the 1983 version.  I liked how the movie left you guessing and you had to infer things as the movie went on. At first the boy just seemed innocent, I believe this added to the creepy feeling that the viewer would experience later on in the movie because you don’t necessarily expect him to be this controlling, evil, brat. It kinda shows how sadistic kids can get if given all the power.

The movie version was more mysterious so you don't really know what to expect, which I liked. It allowed his character to be introduced without being too obvious and it built up the suspense. In the original, the family seemed too fake; they were trying too hard to pretend to like him, it was too forced.  In the movie version, at least when the family was first introduced, they seemed like they genuinely liked the boy and the viewer could just assume they were a very kind and happy family who got along very well-even though they were strange. The viewer would eventually know something was up sooner or later, but it was a good start.

I also liked the 1983 version because it made Anthony seem more evil and disturbing and gave more depth to his character (yes I liked that ha). The 80’s version was better at fulfilling his characters potential as a whole. In the original I just saw him as a brat and I couldn’t help but laugh at the way he acted. It was more of a comedy. Although, the 1961 version did have the original twilight zone feel to it, and in that way I have to give it credit.

The 1983 version did have it’s cheesy moments though- there were these demonic creatures that were supposed to be scary but they were so cheesy that it was more funny then scary but it didn’t affect how I felt about the whole thing. Besides, I don’t really mind things being cheesy ha.

The 1983 version seemed more developed to me, it was just more enjoyable to watch. It had more creative and surprising elements to it. For example, his family wasn’t even his real family, he brought the people there and they had to pretend to be his aunt, uncle, etc. so he was keeping them hostage in a way. The only real family member was his sister Sarah whom he crippled and took away her mouth so she couldn’t speak. Also, this version had more of a strange feeling to it and was creepier than the original; the disturbing things were shown gradually, only a little at a time. The viewer senses something is off but they don’t know what exactly, it makes it exciting.

In a way, it’s like the house was his own dollhouse, as if his whole life was a game. He had the people he wanted, they looked and acted like he wanted and so did the house. He could bring in new characters if he wanted, like buying a new toy or doll.

Another creative thing that I liked was when he took one of his “family members” and wished them into “cartoon land”, she appears in the t.v. and the family sits around it watching her get eaten by a cartoon dragon.Weird.

But, I almost forgot, there was also a creative moment I liked in the 1961 version, when the boy turned the man into a jack in the box.  “He was a bad man so I turned him into a jack-in-the-box, a jack-in-the-box that still has his bad face”- Anthony.  I just liked that part for some reason, so I thought I’d mention it:

 

The only drawback for me in the 1983 version was the ending. I just didn’t feel like there should have been a happy ending. I don’t know if that’s just me being weird but it just didn’t feel right to me.

So, as I hinted before, they are both good in their own ways but overall, in my opinion, the 80’s version was more exciting.


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