Vic Morrow. Myca Dinh Le. Renee Shin-Yi Chen. These are the names of the people who died on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie. You might not even know that film exists, you might not even remember what happened during the film but you undoubtedly heard about the helicopter crash that changed everything. On the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie a shot of a helicopter flying over a Vietnam village went horribly wrong and those three actors were killed when the helicopter crashed onto the set. It’s an accident that changed how films are shot and effectively ended the era of the 70s auteur director where we were fine with madmen in charge of film sets… and it’s the subject of the finale for Cursed Films, and what a finale it is.
For this final episode of the series, Cursed Films really doesn’t hold back from yelling “Idiots, there is no curse, take this seriously” and makes sure to hammer home just how deadly serious this was. It does this in the most direct way possible… you’re going to watch the crash happen. Fortunately, the footage isn’t gory so the horror isn’t visceral but there is undeniable horror in seeing the footage of Vic Morrow carrying the two children through the water before a helicopter comes down on top of them and suddenly you can’t see anyone else. I’d suggest having something light-hearted to cleanse the palette after this episode, it’s the most intense episode of this series so it makes sense that it’s the finale since nothing’s going to be able to top this.
The episode doesn’t get to have interviews with many people who were on the set (John Landis was asked but didn’t respond to their requests which… yeah, good call, nothing he could’ve said would’ve been helpful here), just production designer Richard Sawyer who is the emotional sledgehammer this episode wields to destroy you. His retelling of not only the incident itself, but the generally unsafe conditions on the set will make you sob and rage in equal measure. The entire episode basically revolves around his experience and his memory of just what happened on that fateful day.
Like every episode, this one has a section in the middle where they go off on a bit of a tangent and this one is very important, about the actual safety issues around stunts and here’s where the episode brings in Kane Hodder to explain to everyone just how dangerous stunts can be, talking about a stunt he did that went also went wrong. Kane’s there to make the point about stunts having risks and to offer that perspective.
To offer the “Oh god, you shouldn’t get more than a papercut on a film set” argument they have Lloyd Kaufman from Troma who makes the very valid argument that if he had so much as a broken bone on one of his sets that he’d be ruined. His argument is also important and well made but… well, it’s Lloyd Kaufman, the man has never done a serious interview in his life so be prepared for the jarring juxtaposition of Lloyd talking about a serious topic while he’s in skag drag on the set of Troma’s adaptation of The Tempest.
By the end of the episode, you’ll be emotionally drained, devastated and angry. This episode seems like it almost resents having to suggest that it has to give the idea of a curse any acknowledgement whatsoever. The entire series has been trying to kill the idea of a cursed film and this one is actively pissed off that the phrase ‘curse’ is even attached to this. It wasn’t a curse, it was a horrific accident that happened due to a combination of director ego, no safety regulations and a series of completely avoidable mishaps.
Part of me hopes for a second season, but this episode is a perfect closer that not only details the tragic events that happened on set but make the film’s key argument that a cursed film doesn’t exist, just a series of accidents and horrific events. I believe I’ve said it every episode but if you can watch this series, you absolutely should… again, just have something light and fluffy ready for when you’re done with this one.