Amazing Stories (1985 series)

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Scene from "Mirror, Mirror" episode of Amazing Stories (1985 series)...

Amazing Stories, AKA Stephen Spielberg's Amazing Stories (1985-1987); Nightmares (1989 film)


A 1985-1987 TV anthology series, with a 1989 film (Nightmares (1989 film)), featuring amazing, fantastical, funny, odd, sometimes scary or sad, or endearing stories portrayed by famous writers and directors. Many famous actors, actresses and directors make guest appearances. At least one episode seems to have been a (very loose and uncredited) Lovecraft adaptation.


  • Release Date: 1985-1989
  • Country/Language: US, English
  • Genres/Technical: Fantasy, Adventure, Comedy
  • Runtime: (generally formatted for a 30-minute commercial television slot)
  • Starring: Various (Sam Waterston, Tim Robbins, Helen Shaver - "Mirror, Mirror")
  • Director: Various (Martin Scorcese - "Mirror, Mirror")
  • Writer: Various (Teleplay: Joseph Minion, Story: Steven Spielberg - "Mirror, Mirror")
  • Producer/Production Co: Stephen Spielberg, Amblin Entertainment, Universal Television
  • View Trailer: (link)
  • TVTropes: (link)
  • IMDB Page: (link)


MPAA Ratings

  • Rated: PG-13 (mild, '80s TV-friendly Violence and Adult Content)

Seems to have been rated PG-13, though I don't know why they bothered: there doesn't seem to have been much violence or other content here that would have been out of place in G-rated anthology horror shows from earlier decades. The self-conscious approach to fantasy seems like they weren't sure whether they were aiming the show at children or adults, with a tendency to err on the side of "kid-friendly" caution.

Tentacle Ratings

A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:

  • S____ (One Tentacle: Debateably Lovecraftian; has almost no direct connection to Lovecraft's work)

Once I recognized "The Outsider" in the episode "Mirror, Mirror", it was impossible to un-see this episode as an uncredited adaptation of the story.

Note: This rating is not intended as a measure of quality, merely of how closely related to Lovecraftian "Weird" fiction the work is.


Review Links:

  • Y.Whateley - "We used to call this show 'Amazingly Bad Stories' for a reason: it was sort of a rip-off of The Twilight Zone, but geared more toward awkward and often self-consciously bad urban fantasy in an era when fantasy was considered to be for kids, between the end of the psychedelic era of the 1970s and the beginning of the 'nerd culture' of more recent decades; as a result, most of the people involved seemed to be slightly embarrassed by their involvement, and the tone tended to hang around in the shaky ground somewhere between the serious treatment given by Rod Serling's original The Twilight Zone, and outright self-parody. There really wasn't much room in this series for Lovecraft adaptation, but "Mirror, Mirror" seems to have been one of the few exception (uncredited, updated to the modern era with the inevitable love interest tossed in for no reason, and altered just enough to perhaps avoid accusations of plagiarism); predictably, this episode and series is one for Lovecraftian completists only, aside from the novelty of seeing Stephen Spielberg take credit for an only vaguely Lovecraftian story filmed by Martin Scorcese....."


Episodes that may be of interest to fans of "Lovecraftian" film:

  • "Mirror, Mirror" (Episode 1x19) - A popular horror novelist is terrorized by a strange figure in his bathroom mirror. (A very loose, uncredited adaptation of "The Outsider (fiction)"...)
  • "Go to the Head of the Class" (Episode 2x08) - A teacher's bizarre discipline causes two students to seek revenge with a spell culled from a rock song played backwards. Unfortunately something goes wrong when they cast the spell. When they attempt another spell to fix the problem they accidentally remove the head of their teacher. (Similar in tone to the Re-Animator (1985 franchise) films.)


Comments, Trivia, Dedication

  • The 1989 anthology film was created by bundling a couple of the better-rated episodes of the TV show together ("The Mission" and "Go to the Head of the Class").

Associated Mythos Elements

Keeper Notes