That Time Playboy Made Their Own 'Twilight Zone'-Type Show
If you love old episodes of The Twilight Zone but find yourself frustrated by its glaring lack of full-frontal nudity, luckily, Playboy once made their own science fiction anthology show. Back in the early ‘90s, since both softcore porn and HBO’s Tales From the Crypt were big business, the Playboy Channel decided to produce Inside Out, a series of short films with high-concept premises that still, in some way, revolved around people getting it on. These “erotic tales of the unexpected” were also sold on VHS, with a cover depicting a naked woman seemingly being groped by some kind of Jack Kirby creation.
Episodes ranged from the hard sci-fi of prison spaceships and cyber-sex to unadulterated surrealism like the story of a suicidal guy who falls on a naked woman, turning her into a living cardboard cut-out. What ultimately makes Inside Out stand out in the pantheon of archaic programming previous generations masturbated to, is the talent involved in the project. It was produced by Propaganda Films, the company co-founded by David Fincher, and episodes were helmed by soon-to-be-acclaimed Hollywood directors like Antoine Fuqua and Oscar-winner Alexander Payne -- who later revealed that one of the producers of Inside Out (who eventually worked on shows like Westworld and Six Feet Under) Alan Poul was looking for “cutting edge” non-union directors.
Playboy also hired Bernard Rose, who would go on to direct Candyman in 1992, and Lizzie Borden, who previously made Born in Flames, the low-budget dystopian feminist classic that is about as far from a Playboy Channel production as you can get. Not to mention Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure co-star and filmmaker Alex Winter, who made the decidedly unsexy segment “Meals on Wheels” about a grotesque buck-toothed nerd who is randomly seduced by a strange woman.
Which also involves him battling a reanimated severed head for some reason. Sure, it technically has nudity at the end, but good luck pleasuring yourself to that, horny premium cable customers of yesteryear.
There were also several joyfully odd stories by writer and performer Joe Frank (whose work was once inadvertently cribbed by Martin Scorsese), and one episode featured the handiwork of credited camera operator Sam Raimi (it happened to star his brother Ted). We can’t say for sure that all the stories are winners (they are almost certainly not) but given the pedigree of the crew, why is this show not available anywhere? Surely it’s a pop-culture curiosity that, at the risk of angering parents who were just looking for a Pixar movie, should be on some kind of streaming service, not just a handful of tapes and laserdiscs that are presumably still tucked underneath mattresses across the country.
Top Image: Playboy