Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
December 18
Twilight Zone October 6, 1982
Twilight Zone helicopter death culprits fined

On this day in 1982, fines were handed out to John Landis’ Levitsky Prods and Western Helicopter Inc., the two companies implicated in the death of actor Vic Morrow and two child extras while filming Twilight Zone: The Movie. The film was a four-part compendium and it was while Landis was shooting his segment, “Time Out,’ that the tragic and gruesome deaths occurred. Morrow, a veteran actor, was the lead in Landis’ section, in which his bigoted character is forced to get a taste of the lives of the individuals he hates. In one scene, he experiences what it was like to be a Vietnamese father under attack from the U.S. during the Vietnam war. Landis had created a Vietnamese village in Valencia, CA, about 30 miles north of Los Angeles, and in the early hours of the morning on July 23, 1982, was filming a scene where Morrow waded across a river, carrying 6-year-old Renee Shin-Yi Chen and 7-year-old Myca Dinh Le, while there were helicopters overhead and numerous explosions around him. Tragedy occurred when debris from one of the explosions hit the tail rotor of one of the helicopters, causing it to crash on top of Morrow, who was decapitated, and the young actors. The accident prompted legal action that lasted until 1987, and resulted in much tighter regulations regarding stunts and the employment of child actors.


More Flashbacks
Dec. 18, 1958
Boris Karloff's nephews found murdered

On December 18, 1958, Boris Karloff was struck by a personal tragedy more horrible than any event depicted in one of his movies when his two great-nephews were discovered with their throats slit.

Read more »
December 18, 1966
Antonioni’s Blowup Defines Cool

In New York, crowds of hip cinephiles lined up to see Michelangelo Antonioni’s first English-language film Blowup. The Italian director had already risen to the top of everyone’s must-see list with movies like L'avventura and L’eclisse. But in Blowup, Antonioni took hipness to a whole new level. The script, based on a short story by Argentinean writer Julio Cortázar (who gets a walk on role in the film as a homeless man), involves a callous fashion photographer (David Hemmings) who believes he may have photographed a murder by accident, but finds he can’t prove it one way or other. While Blowup’s existential murder mystery was indeed compelling, it was its backdrop of swinging mod London that captured the most attention. Many felt the main character was modeled on the real-life jet-setting photographer David Bailey, and actual models Jane Birkin and Veruschka wander in and out the film’s world. At the party scene, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page of The Yardbirds play on stage (as themselves), and local personalities like Michael Palin (later of Monty Python) pop up in the crowd. The whole mishmash captured the London scene like nothing else had. Andrew Sarris called the movie "a mod masterpiece.” Playboy’s Arthur Knight went further by suggesting that in the future Blowup will be as “as important and germinal a film as Citizen Kane, Open City and Hiroshima, Mon Amour – perhaps even more so."

Read more »