1983’s “The Twilight Zone” movie is a difficult watch. I’ve never felt great about the movie getting completed and released after John Landis negligently caused the death of veteran actor Vic Morrow and child actors Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Chen. And this stinks because the last two segments in the movie, “It’s a Good Life” and “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” are terrific.
The great Joe Dante directed “It’s a Good Life,” a remake of the 1961 episode about a brat who wields god-like powers to keep his family in check. He rules the roost, demands dinners comprised of candy and peanut-butter-coated hamburgers, and, if his authority is challenged, subjects his relatives to grotesque punishment. When the boy’s sister attempts to alert a visitor to his wicked ways, he thrusts her into a televised cartoon. The actor cast as his sister is none other than Nancy “Bart Simpson” Cartwright, and, as a flesh-and-blood character, she does not fare well in these cartoon environs (she gets gobbled up by a dragon).
Fortunately, Cartwright got another crack at “It’s a Good Life” with “Bart’s Nightmare” in 1991’s “Treehouse of Terror II,” where Bart turns Homer into a jack-in-the-box. You had to be a true nerd to link Cartwright’s appearance in Dante’s “It’s a Good Life” to her work as Bart Simpson, but this deep-tissue nerdiness is and continues to be one of the perks of being a fan of the show.