Top 10 Movies That Ripped Off The Twilight Zone

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According to South Park, The Simpsons have gotten to virtually every comedic concept long before today’s shows even had a chance to exist. the same can be said of The Twilight Zone and trippy science fiction ideas. Over three series and 265 episodes, not to mention a comic book series, a feature film, a radio show, and a magazine, the franchise has mined the paranormal for almost every twisted premise conceivable. So much so that many of the so-called “original” movies released since have been little more than rehashed Twilight Zone episodes. Here are ten of the most blatant ripoffs.

10. Clockstoppers Ripped Off “A Kind Of Stopwatch”

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In  “A Kind of Stopwatch” a man (who is really kind of a jerk anyway) comes across a stopwatch which will stop time and freeze everyone around him.  Eventually, the man gets his just comeuppance by the watch breaking and him being stuck around a bunch of frozen people. In Clockstoppers, teenagers come across an item that speeds them up to the point where everything appears to be frozen. In that concept, Clockstoppers is not only ripping off the Twilight Zone but also the plot of the Outer Limits episode The Premonition. Clockstoppers mainly focuses on teenage attempts to impress girls until they find out that someone dangerous may actually want the device back, to do more than see topless girls.

9. Disney’s The Kid Ripped Off “Nightmare As A Child”

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Nightmare as a Child” concerns a woman who meets a younger version of herself, who has a message for her. In this case, the message of the young girl is that there is a dangerous person out there which the woman also needs to remember. In Disney’s The Kid, Bruce Willis meets a younger version of himself who can’t believe what a useless adult he managed to become. In both cases, the child directly interacts with their adult selves and the child remembers something about themselves that the adult desperately needs to know. The Kid kind of did to “Nightmare” what Disney’s The Little Mermaid did to Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid.

8. In The Mouth of Madness Ripped Off “A World of His Own”

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A World of His Own” concerns a playwright who can create anything or anybody by recording a description of them on a tape recorder. When the tape is burned, then the person, thing or animal disappears. The trouble is that several of the people in his life (actually, nearly all of them) do not realize that they are actually just figments of his imagination. In The Mouth of Madness concerns an insurance agent sent to investigate an author who seems to have dropped off the face of the earth. The entire town which Sam Neil’s character goes too a fictional town dreamed up by an author. Like “World,” Neil’s character  does not realize that he is also a character in the fictional story as well as the fictional town.

7. Liar Liar Ripped Off “The  Whole Truth”

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In “The Whole Truth,” a disreputable used car salesman comes across a lemon of a car that forces him to tell the truth. He can’t actually lie until he finds a way to get rid of the car. This nearly destroys his entire business. In the movie Liar Liar, Jim Carrey plays a lawyer whose son wishes that he could not lie for just one day. Unfortunately, Carrey’s character bases his entire career on the ability to lie. The comedic value on either situation is not lost but Liar Liar is obviously played up for more laughs. In the end of Liar, the lawyer learns the value of the truth as well as how to be a better father.  “Truth” ends with … slightly more earth-shattering proportions, mainly that the car that forces people to tell the truth falls into the hand of the Soviet Premier.

6. Galaxy Quest Ripped Off “Hocus Pocus and Frisby”

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In “Hocus Pocus and Frisby,” a local teller of tall tales attracts the attention of aliens who happen to believe every word which he says. The aliens are then defeated by the storyteller Frisby, and the locals never end up believing his actually-true story. Galaxy Quest is the same basic concept. However, in Galaxy Quest, the aliens believe an old television show and have no concept of what a “lie” is. They think that the television show is actually an historical document. In the end, the actors end up actually defeating the aliens as well. Overall, the same lessons are learned in both cases. Also, the scenes of “career teller of tall tales walking around in street clothes on a starship” are remarkably the same.


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12 Comments

  1. kinda hard to think of any modern sci-fi or horror movie that wasn’t in one way or another influenced by Rod Serling’s awesome awesome show.

  2. What about “The Box” You know, push a button, someone dies, you get a million dollars. Movie starred Cameron Diaz (yummy)

  3. terrry bigham on

    The living dummy concept was used in the earlier and superior “Zone” episode, “The Dummy”, where Cliff Robertson and his dummy switch places in the end. In fact, quite a few movies haves used the idea, especially the Ben Hecht-based “The Great Gabbo” and the famed ventriloquist episode of the British classic “Dead of Night”. The Danny Kaye spy spoof “Knock On Wood” partly spoofed the concept.

    • However, the Dummy episode with Cliff Robertson was specifically an example of the Dummy working to improve the Ventriloquist’s life, much like the Nervous Man in a Four Dollar room. To get the intent of the Dummy actually being mailicious just for the sake of maliciousness you have to use Caesar and Me because it is closer to the manner of Magic.

  4. Some of these seem to be a little far fetched or just common concepts to claim that they were “ripped off”.

  5. Interesting that you have Galaxy Quest right after Liar Liar. The trailer for Galaxy Quest used part of the soundtrack from Liar Liar.

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