The Twilight Zone: A Real Scare
As if the movie Twilight wasn’t eerie enough, one accident during the filming of this classic made this film even more frightening. Vic Morrow was a renowned actor in movies such as Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry, and The Bad News Bears.
On July 23, 1982, actor Vic Morrow and two children, Renee Shin-Yi Chen, who was six years old, and Myca Dinh Lee, who was seven, were working on the final shot for the film. The scene is set with Vic Morrow carrying these two children across a shallow river.
In this film, Morrow plays a bigot who travels through time. In this particular scene, Morrow’s character was supposed to be rescuing Vietnamese children to redeem himself. This scene was being shot in Los Angeles, at an old motorcycle track, Indian Dunes Park.
Dorcey Wingo, a Vietnam veteran, was in charge of the helicopter. Although he had real life experience with the kind of explosions being employed on set, they instilled terror in him. Regardless of how he felt, he continued on as one of the directors of the film, John Landis, was known as being harsh on set.
The real tragedy began as pyrotechnic fire consumed Wingo’s helicopter, which ultimately brought him down. Unfortunately, this helicopter landed in the river that Vic Morrow and the two children were moving through, crushing Renee and slicing through Morrow and Myca.
As a result, several people involved with the film, including Landis, Wingo, and even Warner Bros. faced involuntary manslaughter charges. What makes matters worse is that child labor laws at the time states that children were not to be working past curfew, and a teacher welfare worker was supposed to be there when the kids worked. Landis could have sought out a waiver so that the kids could legally work later, but many claim that Landis thought that the waiver would not be approved because the children were to be around explosives. In addition, Marci Liroff and Michael Fenton of Fenton-Feinberg Casting made sure to tell Landis that child care laws prohibited these children from working late hours, and also that these children were considered extras because they had no speaking parts; because these children were not actors, they could not be hired by Fenton-Feinberg Casting. Critics also say that Fenton’s response was a way for him to avoid getting caught up in this situation.
In order to have these children in the movie, Landis decided to pay the children in cash, this not putting their names on the payroll, and breaking the law.
In the end, Landis, Wingo, and the others were acquitted, with Landis resuming his movie-making career.