Wow, the Amazing Stories anthology TV series from the mid-1980s totally doesn’t hold up. I just streamed the second season episode “Welcome to My Nightmare” on Netflix, written and directed by Todd Holland (who would later go on to create Wonderfalls). It was unwatchable. Something about a nerdy kid who wishes life were more like the horror movies he loves, and then he gets sucked into Psycho, placed inside Marion Crane’s dress, and stuck in room 1 of the Bates Motel while Norman approaches for the infamous shower kill. Finally, the kid admits that life shouldn’t be like a movie, and then he’s safely back in the real world, and also now he has the nerve to ask out the girl he likes, because yeah. One gets the feeling the Bates Motel set on the Universal lot was free for filming that day and they threw together a story as quickly as they could.
And yet I loved Amazing Stories so much at the time! I remember with great fondness hurrying home with my mother and brother (my dad had left already) after our traditional Sunday dinner at the local Chinese restaurant (plus frozen yogurt for dessert…oh, the ’80s!) to make sure we were planted in front of the living room TV in time for Amazing Stories. (As well as the 1980s revival of The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Before Animation Domination and HBO, Sunday nights were anthology TV night.)
Seeing how cheap and awful the computer-generated opening credits are now, with its herky-jerky flying books and weirdly skinny knight in shining armor swinging his sword like he’s blind, it makes me wonder why I thrilled to it at the time. I suppose as we get older our tastes mature, just as our baseline for acceptable special effects rises with the current advances in effects technology. But man, this was embarrassing.
In the end, I choose to keep my fond memories of Sunday nights in front of the TV with my family. The show itself may suck in hindsight (and my mother probably thought it sucked at the time) but my memories are the real amazing stories here, and I’ll treasure them for a lifetime.