You remember AMAZING STORIES, right? The mostly schmaltzy and occasionally entertaining brainchild of STEVEN SPIELBERG. Well, my favorite episode, “Go To The Head Of The Class”, premiered in November of 1986 when I was ten years old. Oh, it’s only my favorite now because the terror it inflicted on me has only now finally subsided. For years, I’ve hated its director, ROBERT ZEMECKIS, for really messing me up (and for BACK TO THE FUTURE PART III). Luckily, Movieplex has been running the AMAZING STORIES “movies”, which are just some episodes slapped together, and I have finally faced my fear.
In the episode, CHRISTOPHER LLOYD plays Professor B. O. Beanes, a dictator of a high school teacher who takes great pleasure in punishing his students. When loser goofball Peter Brand, played by SCOTT COFFEY, starts flirting with bad girl Cynthia Simpson, the lovely MARY STUART MASTERSON, in class, they both run afoul of their jerky teacher. In order to get even, Cynthia convinces Peter to practice a little black magic on old Mr. Beanes. They accidentally kill the guy and then try resurrecting him. But, of course, they screw up while casting the spell, tear the head off the photo of the evil teacher, so he comes back from grave headless and very pissed off.
The promos for “Go To The Head Of The Class” had me bouncing off the walls for its premiere. Looking at it now, I see what I loved about the episode. It’s campy, sexy in a teenie bopper ’80s kind of a way, creepy in a non-threatening way, and fun as hell. But nothing could have prepared me for the surprise ending (which I’m going to ruin here). When all of the severed head business appears to have all just been a dream, Peter Brand arrives late to class to find Cynthia balancing dictionaries on her upturned hands as punishment. He also finds Mr. Beanes with his head reattached to his neck. Unfortunately for Peter (and for me), Beanes removes his scarf to show that his head has been very messily sewed back on.
This completely freaked me out. You see, I had just had my appendix removed and I still had the staples in so I was a little sensitive about seeing sutures. My imagination starting working overtime as I imagined CHRISTOPHER LLOYD’s sewed on head stretching backwards and snapping its stitches in a fountain of blood. This didn’t happen but I started thinking about my own scar ripping open and my guts falling out. Now I know it sounds convoluted but in a matter of seconds, I had totally ruined this excellent little one hour horror special for myself. I turned off my TV and sat in stunned silence, afraid to move. Needless to say, I had a very sleepless night ahead of me.
UNK SEZ: Thanks Richard, we always love to hear from you. We here at Kindertrauma are big fans of your DOOMED MOVIETHON! Your traumafession got me thinking about something I witnessed on television around the same time which I thought was also an episode of AMAZING STORIES. After a bit of searching, I found out it was an episode of the new TWILIGHT ZONE‘s first season back in 1985. It’s entitled PERSONAL DEMONS and it is directed by PETER MEDAK who did THE CHANGELING. The story is about a writer named O’Bannon who has writer’s block and starts seeing this scary guy and others like him everywhere he goes…
They’re sorta like evil Jawas or the guys from PHANTASM except all they do is laugh hysterically and tear all his shit up. They trash his car, attack him in a bar and nobody can see these dudes besides him. Anyhows, I was happy to discover that if you act now, you can view it on the youtube before some dillweed takes it down. Here are parts ONE and TWO. I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone, but it ends up being a great analogy of the creative process (whatever you do, make sure you read the closing credits). This episode has stuck with me for years so I’m so glad I got a chance to view it again. Oh, how I love my computer.