"Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"
The fourth segment is a remake of the episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet", directed by George Miller. Its opening narration is borrowed, in part, from "In His Image." The narrator starts with this monologue:
Nervous airline passenger Mr. John Valentine is in an airplane lavatory as he tries to recover from what seems to be a panic attack. The flight attendants attempt to coax Mr. Valentine from the lavatory, and they repeatedly assure him that everything is going to be all right, but his nerves and antics disturb the surrounding passengers.
As Mr. Valentine takes his seat, he notices a hideous gremlin on the wing of the plane and begins to spiral into another severe panic. He watches as the creature wreaks havoc on the wing, damaging the plane's engine, losing more control each time he sees it do something new. Valentine finally snaps and attempts to break the window with an oxygen canister. After being wrestled to the ground by another passenger, Valentine takes the passenger's gun and shoots out the window (causing a breach in the pressurized cabin), and begins firing at the gremlin. This only serves to catch the attention of the gremlin, who rushes up to Valentine and promptly destroys the gun. After a tense moment, in which they notice that the plane is landing, the gremlin grabs Valentine's face, then simply scolds him for spoiling its "fun" by wagging its finger in his face. The creature leaps into the sky as the airplane begins its emergency landing.
On the ground as a straitjacketed Valentine is carried off in an ambulance claiming to be a hero, the police, crew, and passengers begin to discuss the incident writing off Valentine as insane. However, the aircraft maintenance crew soon arrives and everyone gathers to examine the unexplained damage to the plane's engines complete with claw marks.
The fourth segment ends with a scene reminiscent of the prologue. Valentine is in an ambulance when the driver - Akroyd from the prologue - starts playing Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Midnight Special". The driver turns and says "Heard you had a big scare up there, huh?" Valentine nods, but says he is glad it's over. The driver continues with a grin, "Wanna see something really scary?" Valentine's eyes widen as the ambulance continues driving. The scene fades out to a starry night sky accompanied by Serling's opening monologue from the first season of The Twilight Zone:
Main article: Twilight Zone accident
During the filming of the "Time Out" segment directed by Landis on July 23, 1982, at around 2:30 a.m., actor Vic Morrow and child actors Myca Dinh Le (age 7) and Renee Shin-Yi Chen (Chinese: 陳欣怡; pinyin: Chén Xīnyí, age 6) died in an accident involving a helicopter being used on the set. The two child actors were hired in violation of California law, which prohibits child actors from working at night or in proximity to explosions, and requires the presence of a teacher or social worker. During the subsequent trial, the illegality of the children's hiring was admitted by the defense, with Landis admitting culpability for that (but not the accident), and admitting that their hiring was "wrong".
In the scene that served as the original ending, Morrow's character was to have traveled back through time again and stumbled into a deserted Vietnamese village where he finds two young Vietnamese children left behind when a U.S. Army helicopter appears and begins shooting at them. Morrow was to take both children under his arms and escape out of the village as the hovering helicopter destroyed the village with multiple explosions which would have led to his character's redemption. The helicopter pilot had trouble navigating through the fireballs created by pyrotechnic effects for the sequence. A technician on the ground did not know this and detonated two of the pyrotechnic charges close together. The flash-force of the two explosions caused the low-flying helicopter to spin out of control and crash land on top of Morrow and the two children as they were crossing a small pond away from the village mock-up. All three were killed instantly; Morrow and Myca were decapitated and mutilated by the helicopter's top rotor blades while Renee was crushed to death by one of the skids. A report released in May 1984 by the National Transportation Safety Board stated:
The deaths were recorded on film from at least three different camera angles. As a result of Morrow's death, the remaining few scenes of the segment could not be filmed and all of the scenes that were filmed involving the two Vietnamese children, Myca and Renee, were deleted from the final cut of the segment.
Myca and Renee were being paid under the table to circumvent California's child labor laws. California did not allow children to work at night. Landis opted not to seek a waiver. The casting agents were unaware that the children would be involved in the scene. Associate producer George Folsey, Jr. told the children's parents not to tell any firefighters on set that the children were part of the scene, and also hid them from a fire safety officer who also worked as a welfare worker. A fire safety officer was concerned the blasts would cause a crash, but did not tell Landis of his concerns.
The accident led to civil and criminal action against the filmmakers which lasted nearly a decade. Landis, Folsey, production manager Dan Allingham, pilot Dorcey Wingo and explosives specialist Paul Stewart were tried and acquitted on charges of manslaughter in a nine-month trial in 1986 and 1987. As a result of the accident, second assistant director Andy House had his name removed from the credits and replaced with the pseudonym Alan Smithee.