Although the horror elements in the Twilight Zone movie don’t coincide with the racial elements, the racial portions are horrific in their own right. In the first tale, pissed-off racist Bill Connor (Vic Morrow) — a reference to notorious Birmingham, Alabama segregationist Eugene “Bull” Connor perhaps? — loses out on a promotion at work to a Jewish guy, then proceeds to go drinking and blurt out all of his prejudices against Jews, blacks and Asians (Hispanics? Apparently OK.) in a public bar.
When Bill leaves the bar, the ever-present irony of the Twilight Zone kicks in. He’s suddenly transported into Nazi Germany in the body of a Jew. He’s chased by Nazi soldiers and then before you know it, he finds himself in the Southern United States as a black man during a KKK cross burning. Chased once again, he stumbles into the Vietnam War as a Vietnamese pursued by American soldiers. Since seeing this segment, not a day has gone by without me explaining to someone about my prejudice against billionaires with huge penises.
The horror of the second tale in Twilight Zone, meanwhile, is that it’s so damned cheerful. Directed by Steven Spielberg in the wake of E.T., it seems like he felt pressure to deliver more “awww” moments. What, no kittens? Scatman Cruthers plays a prototypical “mystical darkie” who arrives at a dreary retirement home to brighten up everyone’s spirits by getting them to reminisce about the good old days (like when he was disenfranchised in rural Mississippi; good times) and by literally making them young again, teaching them that they’re “never too old to play.” The end. I kept waiting for the old people to turn into embryos or for Scatman to sprout horns and send them all to Hell, but alas, it remains terminally happy. The horror.