In the Golden Age of Music Video, megawatt artists like Michael Jackson, Guns N’ Roses and Madonna often keep the spotlight away from lesser known bands with important clips, so this post is dedicated to one of the most cinematically magnificent videos ever created, Golden Earring’s “Twilight Zone”.

Dutch rockers Golden Earring scored a classic rock hit in 1973 with “Radar Love,” but didn’t find themselves on the charts again until this clip from their 1982 album Cut began getting significant television airplay. Fashioning a low-budget homage to spy thrillers with a funky dance break in the middle, Dutch director Dick Maas created this truly trippy cinematic tribute with nods to Hitchcock, Fellini, and the name-checked Rod Serling television series. With GE lead singer Barry Hay playing our hero on the run, the clip boasts quite a few arresting images, including an opera house full of identical cardboard cutouts of Hay, a post-coital femme fatale pulling a gun, a hot bullet splitting a playing card, and a firing squad finale. Maas later helmed the album’s second video, an unsettling clip for the song “When The Lady Smiles”. Maas continues to create in his native Netherlands, producing and directing several films, including an entry in this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

The Golden Age of Music Video cornered the filmmaker (albeit by email) to talk all things “Twilight Zone”, including what’s up with the burning bullet and the weird bald guy.

How did you get involved with Golden Earring in the first place?
Cesar Zuiderwijk, the drummer of Golden Earring, contacted me after seeing some of my short movies on TV. Apparently, he was impressed by them. They were working on a new album, and they needed some video clips.

Who came up with the concept for the Twilight Zone video? How much band input was there?
I think I came with the idea. I wanted the video to look like a trailer for a movie.

What had you been directing prior to that, and what is your background?
I directed some short movies for television. I had also a background as a comics artist and a musician.

The video is very cinematic and very true to spy thriller traditions. Have you always had an interest in suspense and action filmmaking?
Yes. My first feature film was a horror/thriller called “The Lift,” and I’ve made several action movies after that.

Who decided that a dance break in the middle was a good idea? It almost looks as if you are poking fun at dancing in music videos.
It seemed the logical thing to do. There was a long instrumental break in the middle of the song.

Where was this shot? How many days was the shoot?
We shot the video in 1982 around Amsterdam. We had three long shooting days with a very small crew. One of the scenes we shot in the well known sex club Yab Yum. The ‘torture’ and dance sequences were shot in one night in a dilapidated factory just outside Amsterdam.

What was the record company’s reaction to the Twilight Zone clip? Did they react well to the first cut with the nudity?
The Dutch record company, Red Bullet, was enthusiastic about the video. It was also shown on film in dutch cinemas. For MTV, the video was censored.

Anything about “Twilight Zone” clip that we should know that’s not well known?
We shot this video on a very low budget, I think it was around 15,000 U.S. dollars. We had no money for opticals or visual effects. So for the ‘splitscreen’ shots of the gun, we used mirrors. And the shot were the bullet goes through the playing card was also shot for real [an image that mirrors the album cover]. It was a real bullet that was heated, and the point was sharpened. It was put on a device so it could cut through the card. It seems like a slow motion effect, but it wasn’t. My hand holds the gun.

Where was the last scene of “Twilight Zone” shot (the blindfold shot)?
This scene was shot on the same lot where a lot of the other shots were filmed. It was a dilapidated meat factory, I believe, in Amsterdam. It was taken down shortly afterwards.

Who is the funny guy in the orchestra pit? Is he anyone we should know?
That’s Hans van den Burg. He was the frontman of a very popular band at the time, Gruppo Sportivo. You can also see him in the video of ‘When the Lady Smiles’, in the subway. He is a friend of Barry Hay and lived across the street.

As a filmmaker, what did you learn and how did you grow from directing music videos?
My main goal was to tell a short story in all my videos, so it was an exercise in (short) storytelling. Nowadays, I see very little videos that try to do that. It’s almost all about visuals now. I’d like to see the storytelling clip brought back. I’d like to think Michael Jackson was inspired by my video when he did “Beat It”.

Check out this incredible clip below, and if you are in New York, check out Dick Maas’ new film “Saint” in the Cinemania section of the Tribeca Film Festival.

Golden Earring – Twilight Zone (X) by popefucker


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