Director John Landis is set to film his segment for “Twilight Zone – The Movie” titled “Time Out”. It is the final sequence for a tough shoot. In this episode, Vic Morrow as Bill Connor, a racist bigot who suddenly finds himself in the shoes of the people he hated. (Or, as he calls them, “Kikes, niggers and gooks.”) For the grand finale, Bill saves two Vietnamese orphans from a U.S. bombing attack on their village.
In the intended scene, Morrow is to carry two child actors across shallow water while various explosions going off around him. Overhead in the multi-colored sky is a helicopter. What could go wrong?
Actor Vic Morrow, 53, is no stranger to such type of filming. For years, he starred in the TV-series “Combat!” (1962-1967), his most famous role. But in the intervening years, the veteran actor has fallen back in B-films and supporting TV roles. This film is his big chance as an A-list actor. He is so anxious to prove himself, a stuntman is not being used.
The children Myca Dinh Le, 7, and Renee Shin-Yi Chen, 6, aren’t supposed to be there, according to California’s Child Labor Laws. Violations include: Children working after hours near explosions and without the presence of a teacher or social worker. Plus, they’re being paid secretly.
At the time, director John Landis is part of “New Hollywood”, hot after the success of “National Lampoon’s Animal House”, “The Blues Brothers” and “An American Werewolf in London”. He is under contract with producer Steven Spielberg who is directing the second segment titled “Kick the Can”.
Witnesses say Vic Morrow has some trepidation… and yet he doesn’t listen to his sixth sense. If “Twilight Zone” is a hit, he’ll be famous again. (As is turned out, for all the wrong reasons.)
It is said, cans of paint are placed near the explosives to create a more vivid effect…and they do.
As filming commences, Morrow can be seen struggling thru the water as he carries the two kids, one under each arm. In the background, huts explode into balls of flame. The low-flying helicopter’s rotary blades are causing a wind storm. Landis instructs the pilot to fly lower. Indeed, the sky turns into a hue of beautiful colors as the mock-up village explodes around them.
The wind is making it nearly impossible for Morrow. In the water, he accidentally drops one of the children. (Renee.) Just then, two massive explosions go off; the air blast literally knocks the helicopter out of the sky. It turns over, crashing down into the water.
Filming abruptly comes to a halt.
“Where are Vic, Myca and Renee?”
The crew rush into the water. A headless, floating dummy can be seen floating in the water. Except, it’s not a dummy. It’s Vic Morrow. Decapitated.
During the accident, the blade crushed Renee Chen and sliced the heads off Morrow and Myca Le.
In a scene worthy of “The Twilight Zone”, the incomplete footage goes unused, except for news broadcasts.
The trial lasted nine months (1986-1987.) Director John Landis and others were acquitted on the charge of manslaughter. Essentially, it was ruled an accident.
The “Time Out” segment remains without the Bill Connor character redeeming himself by trying to save the children. Instead, he’s taken away by Nazi’s in a cattle car.
“Twilight Zone – The Movie” (1983) received mixed reviews. Advance publicity from the fatal accident helped garner $42,000,000. The movie itself cost ten million.
Text © 2022 – EricReports