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This is something that has been plaguing me for years, I have a rough memory of it as I saw it as a child. It was playing on daytime television in Australia in the early 90s.

American suburbia, main character is a teenager. New people move in across the street and I remember them being European (translvania was mentioned I think)? The kid is super sus on them, and goes through their garbage.

In the garbage he finds a machine, which he brings home and tries to fix. He plugs it into the power and it creates this orbs of bright light and heat that burns anything it touches. He's like, hey cool and then it slowly moves towards him.

This quickly gets out of hand where these orbs (one at a time) are forming and tracking the family members, they are holding up things like a fridge door and they orbs burn through everything in their path in order to.. burn through the people? I remember someone (the father?) holding up a microwave and the orb not being able to burn through it and dissapating, and then one forms inches from his chest and just slowly starts to burn through him.

Then I turned it off, terrified (I was 6 or so at the time) and have no idea of the rest of the plot.

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    Not Phantasm although such orbs (not heat as i recall but drills, maybe heat also) were prominent in Phantasm for sure.
    – releseabe
    Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 5:35
  • Welcome to the site! Thanks for providing so much detail (when/where you saw it, setting, etc.) and especially for the nicely descriptive title (we see a lot of pretty generic "looking for a story" titles that we need to edit, so it's really nice to see a new user writing a good title from the off).
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 18:21
  • You are welcome! I was seeking help so I wanted to try and give as much details as possible Commented Oct 18, 2023 at 3:32

1 Answer 1

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Is this "Such Interesting Neighbors" (1987), S02E18 of Amazing Stories (1985–1987)...?

Rattlesnakes, howling coyotes, sudden earthquakes and time warps jar the Lewis family in their new home, and all the bizarre incidents seem linked to the Hellenbecks, their weird next-door neighbors.

Al and Nell Lewise and their nerdy son, Randy, live in a suburban house in Arizona.

One night, they notice some activity in a house across the street. Al doesn't think anyone could be moving in, since the house is only half-finished. Randy thinks it might be burglars. Al heads across the street to investigate, with Randy soon catching up to him, and when they look through a window, they see a man smashing some type of contraption to pieces with a plank of wood.

The next day, Al and Nell visit the other house to introduce themselves to the new neighbours, Ted and Ann Hellenbeck and their young son, Brad. Ted is played by the British musician, Adam Ant, who's putting on an American accent for this role, but his attire, speech and behaviour -- like those of his wife and son -- are rather odd and stilted. Al remarks that they're not from Arizona, judging by their accents, and guesses that they might be from New York.

Meanwhile, Randy takes the opportunity to rummage through a dumpster outside the Hellenbecks' house and carry some of their junk home in a cardboard box. Later, in the basement of his own own house, Randy reassembles the junk he found into the device he saw Ted smashing to pieces the night before. When he turns it on, a blue ball of energy appears in a nearby wall, burning a hole in it, before moving into a light bulb, causing the bulb to explode.

Image of Randy from "Such Interesting Neighbors" (1987), S02E18 of "Amazing Stories" (1985–1987).

Randy runs upstairs to the kitchen to warn his parents, when another ball of energy appears and moves into a television set, causing that to explode. They determine that these balls are attracted to heat, so when another one appears, Nell turns on a toaster to divert it away from her while Randy opens an oven door to divert one away from him. They then notice a fourth ball on Al's chest, starting to burn a hole in it, but he runs into another room and manages to save himself by turning on a hair dryer.

Image of Al from "Such Interesting Neighbors" (1987), S02E18 of "Amazing Stories" (1985–1987).

According to the Wikipedia page, the plot is based on a 1951 short story of the same name by Jack Finney. The Wikipedia page also offers a plot summary that spoils the ending:

The story deals with the narrative of Al and Nell Lewis's encounters with their new neighbors, the Hellenbeks. As the plot progresses, the Hellenbeks' interactive manners and general behavior puzzle Al Lewis, who seeks to uncover the cause of their uncommon ways. Towards the end of the story it is revealed that the Hellenbeks are time travellers from a future era. As their world was on the brink of global war, inexpensive time machines became available for the general public to cause a diversion from the extremely unfavorable conditions. However, much of the population, including the Hellenbeks, used them to settle in past eras and caused severe depopulation, which made the waging of war impossible, while eventually the remaining population migrated as well.

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  • Wikipedia generally has "spoilers" in the plot summary. This is allowed. I have found spoilers in biographical articles as well: "[so-and-so, subject of article] played the murderer on the [name of murder mystery show] episode [name of episode]" and I remove them when I encounter them. But the spoiler is part of the plot and it belongs there under the guidelines. Good job making it hidden text for the people who read your answer and want to read the story.
    – Wastrel
    Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 14:41
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    @Wastrel - I wasn't criticising the Wikipedia summary. I'm more than fine with their articles including spoilers. (It's often helpful to me when answering questions like this.) I just wanted to clarify what sort of spoilers were in the summary, so that anyone else reading this knew what to expect. In other words, I was simply saying: "Here are spoilers for the ending, if you want them." Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 15:25
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    YOU FOUND IT! I have been looking for this for years and you smashed it out of the park, thank you so much Commented Oct 18, 2023 at 3:08
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    Done! Thank you again Commented Oct 18, 2023 at 3:32

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