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The Twilight Zone - Nightmare at 20.000 Feet

episode 5.3

USA 1963
produced by
Ben Granet for Cayuga Productions/CBS
directed by Richard Donner
starring William Shatner, Christine White, Ed Kemmer, Asa Maynor, Rod Serling (presenter)
written by Richard Matheson, series created by Rod Serling

Twilight Zone, Twilight Zone (classic series)

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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After a half year stretch in a sanatorium - where he was sent for freaking out on a plane - Bob Wilson (William Shatner) boards another airplane to return home - but does so uite nervously. His wife Juliette however calms him - if just - & the plane takes off. But in mid-flight, with his wife sleeping, Bob sees a monster, a gremlin on the plane's wing, slowly wrecking it. Alarmed, he calls for the stewardess - who of course sees nothing, as the gremlin manages to escape out of sight everytime anybody else but Bob is looking.

But as Bob sees the gremlin doing more & more damage, he grows more & more alarmed, but as he more & more desperately tries to get the attention from just about anyone, he only turns them more & more against him.

Deciding to take matters into his own hands at last, he steals the gun of asleeping  security guard, opens the security window & shoots the gremlin - to the expected desastrous results in the passenger department stemming from pressure-drop ...

The plane has to make an emergency landing, & Bob, died to a stretcher, is dragged off to another stay at a sanatorium. But if he is mad, where is the damage on the plane's wing coming from ?


Even though the story is not without predecessors (most notably the Bugs Bunny-short Falling Hare [1943 - by Bob Clampett]), this is easily one of the most recoginzed, most remade & spoofed (among others as a segment of the 1983 Twilight Zone - The Movie, as a segment of a Halloween episode of The Simpsons - Treehouse of Horrors IV [1993 - by David Silverman], and as a Johnny Bravo-short - The Man Who Hated Clowns [1997 - by Rumen Petkov]), & also one of the best episodes of the long running Twilight Zone-series.

In part, this is thanks to the wickedly clever & funny storytelling, but mostly the episode - something of a one-man-piece to begin with - works because of a great acting job by William Shatner, who carries the plot on his shoulders with ease, & who generally proved to be a fine & versatile actor before his (unexpectecd) success in Star Trek led him to believe he had to play every role like Captain Kirk.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD