Monday, September 6, 2010

VHS Review: TerrorVision (1986)


“People of Earth, your planet is about to be destroyed… We’re terribly sorry for the inconvenience”

RUN TIME: 83 Min.
DIRECTOR: Ted Nicolaou
CAST: Diane Franklin, Gerrit Gragam, Mary Warnov, Chad Allen, Jon Gries, Bert Remsen, Alejandra Rey, Randi Brookes, Jennifer Richards, Sonny Carl Davies

SYNOPSIS: When Stanley Putterman installs a brand new, state-of-the-art satellite dish in his backyard, his family ends up getting a lot more than just ESPN. Unfortunately for Stanley, his satellite is a perfect receptor for a load of extraterrestrial garbage that just happened to be converted into energy and zapped into his backyard: a hideous, two-ton alien blob with eyes and a never-ending appetite

Horror-host Medusa
THE FILM: Oh, 1980’s – how I miss your neon glow. Before Full Moon Pictures there was Charles Band’s now defunct Empire International Pictures, of the two I prefer Empire International Pictures body of films; RE-ANIMATOR (1985), FROM BEYOND (1986), DOLLS (1987), and GHOULIES (1985) to name a few. TerrorVision begins as the garish 80’s family the Putterman’s are installing that most 80’s of conventions – the satellite TV. Unbeknownst to them their newly installed satellite dish has picked up an energy beam from the planet Pluton, infecting their TV with a creature from beyond their universe, known as the “hungry beast”. The Putterman’s are comprised of father Stanley (Gerrit Graham, C.H.U.D. II), mother Raquel (Mary Warenov, HOUSE OF THE DEVIL) both of whom are swingers, their daughter Suzy (Diane Franklin, BETTER OFF DEAD) a neon-maned metal chick with a leather and W.A.S.P. t-shirt clad rocker boyfriend, O.D. (Jon Gries, MONSTER SQUAD), Grandpa (Bert Remsen) a heavily armed WW2 vet with a bomb shelter in the basement, and their son Sherman (Chad Allen) is an imaginative horror fan, and the only one who realizes what’s going on. A really great cast, putting Mary Warnov and Gerrit Graham together as the mom and dad was a stroke of pure genius, and Bert Remsen as the grandfather is a lot of fun.

Sherman’s parents and sister both go out for a night on the town, leaving him and gramps to watch some late-night creature feature hosted by the serpentine-haired Medusa. Both nod off and awaken to the “hungry beast” in their living room, narrowly escaping to the fallout shelter in the basement where they arm themselves to the teeth. Gramps is no match for the hungry beast and is absorbed by the creature, leaving behind a slimy cesspool. Soon after Sherm’s parents and a swinging couple they’ve picked-up arrive back at the house, followed by his sister and her rocker boyfriend. No one believes him, despite the pile of slime on the floor, in the movies no one ever believes their kids. When the creature kills it can emulate the deceased, creating decoys and mimicking their voices, thereby conveniently fooling the unaware into believing the victims are alive, but Sherm knows better.

Hungry Beast - Intergalactic pet post-mutation.
Suzy comes to realize that her brother is telling the truth and she and Sherm decide to reach out to TV horror host Medusa (Jennifer Richards), to help destroy the creature, much like Charlie reaching out to Peter Vincent in FRIGHT NIGHT (1985). At the same time here are also transmissions on the TV from the planet Pluton warning Earth of the danger. The transmissions come by way of Pluthar, an extraterrestrial trashman from Pluton whose job it is into atomize the mutated “hungry beast” of his planet and beam them to the edge of the galaxy. He’s made a mistake and the hungry beast has instead been beamed to the Putterman’s home. Pluthar beams himself into Putterman’s home to set things right, however, when Medusa reluctantly arrives she screws up everything by mistakenly identifying Pluthar as the creature. She knocks him upside his head and he implodes.

Pluthar the Intergalactic Trashman prior to implosion.

Hats off to the L.A. band THE FIBONACCI’S who provide several songs for the soundtrack, including the awesome new-wave 80’s theme song, it’s pretty great. The creature effects are low budget but effective for the film, the Hungry Beast and special effects were created by John Carl Buechler who's done special effects work on films such as FROM BEYOND (1986), DOLLS (1987), BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR (1990) and HATCHET (2006). He also directed FRIDAY THE 13th PART VIII: The New Blood (1988) and GHOULIES III: GHOULIES GO TO COLLEGE (1991).

DVD: No DVD release of TERRORVISION is available to my knowledge. Yet another lost 80’s classic not yet released on DVD. There's always VHS, right?

VERDICT: By no means is TERRORVISION a great film, it however incredibly fun and pure 80’s cheesiness in the best possible way. Mary Warnov and Gerrit Graham are great as the parents, and the cheesey 80’s special effects work is very nostalgic for me. Great stuff. A high recommend from me. RATING *** (3 out of 5 stars)