(TV Series)

(1986)

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9/10
one of Scorsese's most Hitchcockian entries in film-making- a quick feat of cinematic bravado
MisterWhiplash29 November 2006
I imagine Martin Scorsese had a lot of fun, in a very brief way, directing this short film in the guise of a little short for the TV series Amazing Stories in the 80s. Probably due mostly to his friendship with Steven Spielberg, Scorsese took up this job while in the midst of directing The Color of Money. Knowing that while watching Mirror, Mirror, I had to think that Scorsese's essential goal was to make an assignment, as sort of director-for-hire, to just make it as stylistically interesting and eye-grabbing as possible. While he doesn't completely reach the homage-like depths that his other film-making friend DePalma reaches, it's a really nifty exercise in twisted paranoia and all as a big goof on horror movies. As Sam Waterston's filmmaker/author character in the episode says, "the dead don't scare me, it's the ones that are alive", to which Scorsese decides to prove wrong every step of the way. Because, really, what ends up scaring Waterston's character the most isn't what's dead or alive, but what's in himself, or what he'd never expect to see within his own reflection.

It actually fits, in its own way, into the psychology of the protagonists in Taxi Driver (that one for the obvious reasons- 'you talking to me') and even the Aviator, by how relentless a certain form of madness can take hold on a person. No matter what Waterston and his love interest try to do, he can't escape seeing things reflected, and then the weird caped creature in the background trying to choke him to death (or something worse, as ends up). What's most striking about Mirror, Mirror- which was originally scripted by Spielberg himself- is how the Hitchcockian impulses work so well. Some bits are obvious, like when Waterston wakes up on the stairs and we see the extreme (tilted) close-up on the eyeball pull back, if not as slow as the more infamous shot. Or just simple pans and sweeps and distorted angles immediately call into mind the master of suspense, and even to a lesser extent the horror pictures of Val Lewton. It's definitely not difficult to see where Scorsese's style is also very apparent too, like in a quick montage of Waterston locking all the doors, or the one shot where he's in prison, the red tints on some shots, and how distorted some angles get like when the woman looks into the many faces of herself in a shattered mirror.

And what's also a lot of fun is seeing an actor like Waterston take on such a crazed role. For an actor mostly known for theater, the occasional dramatic Woody Allen role, and of course Law & Order, I got a big kick out of seeing him flip out and curl up into a little ball of nerves over what may or may not be there behind him, as he very quickly loses his mind. Maybe not one of his best, but I'd it's a lot more exciting than I expected. Although the episode isn't very easy to find on video- maybe it's available now on DVD or pops up on TV from time to time- it shouldn't disappoint Scorsese fans/completists who seek it out, and though I'm not too familiar with the actual Amazing Stories series, it hopefully won't let down the fans either.
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7/10
Martin Scorsese + Amazing Stories = Strange, but good episode.
Tommy Nelson4 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I try to think of each episode of Amazing Stories as a mini movie. It's a lot easier with this show, than any other to do that, because each episode develops the characters, gives a beginning and an end to a plot, and isn't just conceived on an idea, unlike some episodes of the Twilight Zone and Tales from the Darkside. This episode is hard to think of as a mini movie. It's a spooky and entertaining episode, and one of the better episodes of season 1, but by the ending, it just doesn't fully work.

Jordan Mammouth (Sam Waterson) is a mean horror writer. Every day the same kid asks him to read his work, and Mammouth always refuses. When asked if his work every scares him, he says no, but soon he will begin living a nightmare. Every time he sees a reflection of himself, he sees a disfigured phantom trying to strangle him. And every time he sees the creature, it gets closer and closer to him. This is well directed, and the acting is top notch, as one would expect from Scorsece, however it's the ending that ruins this one. It turns it from a mini movie, to what it is, a TV show, canceled after 45 episodes. With a better ending, this could've been a classic, but instead it flounders, and falls into just above mediocrity.

My rating: *** out of ****. 26 mins. TVPGLV
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9/10
The phantom in the mirror
sonnyschlaegel18 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Jordan Manmouth is a writer of horror novels. He says he isn't afraid of ghosts, although he'd like to be - it's living people that are scaring him, agents, ex-wives, and critics. It seems his wish is fulfilled very soon. He hears a scary noise and sees a phantom in the mirror. When he turns round, the phantom is gone, but it comes back (almost) every time Jordan looks in a mirror. The phantom gets nearer to him every time he sees it, and it seems to attack him from behind, so he gets more and more terror-stricken. Will he be able to find peace again?

I liked this story very much. There's a lot of suspense as the phantom gets nearer and nearer and seems to attack Jordan. And it's not just mirrors that scare him: he begins to see the phantom in just about any reflecting surface until in the end he even sees it in... (I won't tell because that would mean to give away too much). Sam Waterston is very good in my opinion; he plays Jordan's panic very believably. I guess Tim Robbins also performs well, but it's hard to tell because he has lots of make-up on. I think the music is simple, but I liked it because in my opinion it was very fitting for a horror story and helped heighten the suspense.

In most ghost stories you know where the ghost comes from. In this story it's not clear (at least at first). And if it's not clear, that might make a story even scarier. For example, I think that 'A School Story' by M. R. James is very scary because you don't know where the ghost (or demon) comes from, and I think the same goes with a lot of stories by H. P. Lovecraft. But the fact that the phantom in this story appears in mirrors might be a clue to where it comes from. A mirror can be a symbol for a gate to another world (as in 'Through the Looking-Glass'). So perhaps it's the gate to the realm of ghosts and Jordan's phantom is a kind of punishment sent from there because he says ghosts don't scare him (and at the beginning of the story he says he'd like to be scared by them, so perhaps the ghosts are simply taking him at his word.) There are of course more possible interpretations. A mirror can be a symbol for one's desires (as in 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone') or for one's soul. Looking into it might show you your inner self. Jordan seems to be a quite arrogant man, so perhaps the mirror shows him his rotten inner self that may be more dead than alive (the phantom looks similar to the zombies that appear in the film clip that is shown at the beginning of the episode). The title of the episode may also be a hint. It's probably an allusion to the fairy tale 'Snow White', and the question here may be 'Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the ugliest of them all?'. And the mirror shows Jordan he is the ugliest by showing him the ugly phantom. Lastly, it could be the case that the mirror simply does what every mirror is meant to do: it just shows him a true likeness of himself. I think this interpretation is somewhat similar to the interpretation that it shows him his inner self. I guess the ending is probably a hint that this interpretation is possible, but I don't want to be more specific because I don't want to spoil too much. (One other point: the apparition is called 'Jordan's Phantom' in the titles. A phantom can be just an illusion, but it can also be an apparition or a ghost. And it might be important that it's not called 'The Phantom', but 'Jordan's Phantom'. It really seems to be something that belongs to him. (The other people in the story don't see it.))

I think if you like ghost stories you will probably like this episode. (Keep in mind that it's been said that the eyes are a mirror of the soul...)
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8/10
It proves and shows what happens when you get to caught up in your own creations!
Danny Blankenship3 June 2014
This "Amazing Stories" episode from season one titled "Mirror, Mirror" is one little clever and neat one that haunts and it's one to remember as it teaches the lesson of not needing to mix work and home life as one's creations can become them! Well anyway directed by legendary Martin Scorsese the tale involves a horror author Jordan Manmouth("Law and Order's Sam Waterston)who's popular yet he's uptight and one little arrogant rich lonely guy who loves his works and creations as evidenced by the posters up of his monster characters in his mansion home. Yet Jordan claims nothing bothers him all of a sudden he's haunted time after time by a monstrous creation as this hooded figure shows up in the mirror. This is one chilling episode that shows some can't break away from their work no matter how hard they try as their own creations even become them!
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8/10
Pretty good, low budget Scorsese
Quentintarantado3 April 2008
My brother had this theory about Scorsese. When he has good writing, he makes technically excellent, but neat and slightly dull movies like Color of Money. But when the script is a mess, then he makes exciting and brilliant movies, partially to compensate for the mess in the script. Here, Scorsese goes back to his Roger Corman roots, making a cheap horror thriller that Corman would have been proud to be associated with. The story may not make much sense, but the technical bravura of the episode makes it stand out. This, as well as the Zemeckis "Go to the Head of the Class" and the guilty pleasure "Hell Toupee" are my favorite Amazing Stories episodes. It's a pity I missed Brad Bird's Family Dog.
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6/10
Decent but not enough
MartinHafer23 June 2015
"Mirror, Mirror" is a decent enough episode of "Amazing Stories". However, considering how bad many of the shows were, the program sure needed a grand slam to infuse interest for this short-lived anthology series. Decent enough....but nothing more despite the episode being directed by Martin Scorsese.

The story involves a famous horror director (oddly, Sam Watterson was cast in this role). Despite his fame, life is about to get craptastic because suddenly he starts seeing a ghoulish guy chasing him. Yet, whenever he turns to see him, the ghoul disappears. There really isn't anything more to it than that...and that's the problem. A thread-bare plot and a few chills aren't enough to make this anything more than just mediocre.
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9/10
Scorsese! It's Scorsese!
Hitchcoc24 May 2014
A young Sam Waterston plays an arrogant film director who specializes in violent zombie movies. He has little respect for his audiences and lives life high off the hog. After a Dick Cavett interview, he goes home. He confronts a fan, sleeping in front of his door, and after cruelly facing off with him, he makes his way into the house. At this point, he begins to see images in whatever mirror happens to be around. It is always a white faced figure with a garrote, ready to strangle him. At first he assumes it's the kid at the doorstep, but then realizes he is in real danger. A worthy scene takes place in a parking lot entrance where he attacks a guard and is thrown in jail. He continues, out of his mind, eventually crawling into a shell and exhibiting outrageously terrified behavior. This is nicely paced and quite unsettling. Besides that, who, other than Steven Spielberg, could get Martin Scorsese to direct an episode.
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Don't look in the Mirror
sol10 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** After plugging his latest novel "Scream Dream" on TV's "Dick Cavett Show" Steven King like horror writer Jordan Manmouth, Sam Waterston, plans to spend a quite night of relaxation at his pad in the country and loosen up a bit. The first thing that upset that already up tight Jordan was one of his biggest fans wannabe horror writer Jeffery Gleb, Glenn Scarpelli, who parked himself outside his front door wanting the very annoyed writer to check out his latest work. All the advice that no so appreciative, of Gelb's work, Jordan gave the young man is to learn how to type. It's later after a few stiff drinks that Jordan looked in his bar mirror that he sees this dark clothed phantom, played by a heavily made up and totally unorganizable Tim Robbins, in the room with him who seemed to be up to no good.

As the movie continues every time that Jordan looks into a mirror he sees this mysterious phantom and even worse what he intends to do to him! Garrote Mafia-style the terrified man with a piano wire! This get so out of hand that later in Jordan looking at a cop's sun glasses he sees the phantom reflected in them and knocks the shads off him. This leads to Jordan being placed overnight in the local jail until he's finally bailed out by his girlfriend Karen, Helen Shavers.

***SPOILERS*** With Helen trying to help him clam him down back at his house Jordan's paranoia in looking in mirrors reaches a breaking point. That's in him freaking out when he was to be interviewed by a local tabloid TV show when he saw his reflection on the video camera together with the phantom about to strangle him. Later we and a shocked Karen soon realize that Jordan's fear are not imagined but in fact real. All those horror stories that he conjured up and wrote through the years have now come back to haunt him. And even worse it non other then Jordan Manmouth himself who's the one out to do the by now out to his mind horror writer in. And he does it in a such a weird and horrific way that even Jordan wouldn't of dreamed of putting into any of his many best selling horror novels!
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