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September 27, 2013

Movie Review: TerrorVision (1986) / Video Dead (1987)

by Peggy Christie

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is, of course, a double-feature DVD. Due to a hilarious series of events, the review begins with TerrorVision and then concludes with The Video Dead. Yeah. Hilarious. - DH

As I started to watch this cheese fest, bits and pieces seemed familiar. About five minutes in I realized I had actually watched this movie back when it had originally spewed out into the world: the 80s. As I didn't remember much from it, it's a good thing I had the DVD to refresh my memory.

Or perhaps it was better that I'd taken an SOS pad to my brain. Sure it erased my ability to eat hot soup for a while but it had also removed the synapses responsible for retaining the images of this pile o' crap.

TerrorVision brings us to the planet, Pluton, and its waste disposal system. When the beings of Pluton have a mutant to get rid of, they convert the little booger into pure energy and send the offensive beam out into space. No intergalactic garbage heaps to deal with? How Eco friendly of them.

Unfortunately, the energy beam bounces around the galaxy and shoots into the satellite receptor of the Putterman family of the planet Earth. While they assume the monster images they are seeing are simply movies, it's the Plutonian creature reconstituting himself. Kinda like Campbell's soup only with less taste and more snot.

Eventually it breaks into our world and begins to eat. It seems this monster has an enormous appetite and it won't stop until it consumes everything and everyone in its path, gradually destroying the Earth.

Oh, dear gods. I like horror and comedy just as much as the next guy (I think there's one other person who likes it). And in a satire, I understand that things are exaggerated to make a joke or a point or whatever. But when you cram every stereotype, every excess, every idea that was popular in a certain era and then turn them up to 11, you've basically got a room full of meth addicted monkeys with no supervision, flinging their poo around in a psychotic rage. Fascinating to watch for the first few minutes until you realize that maybe someone should put a stop to the madness before they end up dismembering each other.

The special effects, such as they were, I suppose we're decent enough for a low budget film, though I bet most of the budget was blown on KY jelly. I found the monster kind of cute and according to the movie, it HAD been a pet before it mutated and became a burden on Plutonian society. I suspect James Gunn may have seen this movie because the monster looked suspiciously similar to the giant blob creature at the end of Slither.

All the sets were built specifically for this movie and whomever did it must not have had enough color in his life growing up. Bright and neon hues, like a circus made of candy, assault the senses in every scene. The character wardrobes were like Baskin Robbins 31 flavors come to life especially that really obnoxious one, Superman, that turns your tongue blue and looks like it was made of the skins of South American poison dart frogs.

Overall, despite the presence of many actors I recognized and have loved in other movies, I can only pray that I NEVER have to watch this awful movie a third time. Unless I smoke a giant bong first.

I hadn’t noticed on the TerrorVision DVD that another movie was included. But thanks to David, I was able to find it and can review it for you now. Sometimes I think my subconscious is smarter than me and quite possibly it wants to punch David in the neck.

The Video Dead is another humdinger from the eighties. The movie starts with the Hi-Lite Delivery Men dropping off a crate to a customer who didn’t order it. Tough shit, pal. Take it and like it. When Mr. Grumpygus opens it, all he finds is a television set. Who the hell sends a TV through the mail? Since the guy doesn’t watch it (yeah, right), he leaves it in his living room and goes about his day. That night the television turns on all by itself showing what we assume is a zombie movie. No matter how many times the guy turns off the TV, it keeps turning back on. Well, Mr. Man will just unplug the damn thing. That’ll show it who’s boss.

Sorry, Mr. Sassypants. The television turns on again anyway and the zombies in the movie now burst forth from the set and begin their reign of terror. The following day, when the Hi-Lite geniuses realize they delivered the set to the wrong address (exactly how does one accidentally mis-send a box labeled for an scientific institution that studies the paranormal?) they go to retrieve it, only to find Mr. Sourpuss dead. With a birthday party hat on. HUH?

Fast forward three months and we see Zoe and Jeff moving into the dead Mr. Nofunzone’s house. Technically, their parents bought the house but since they’re in Saudi Arabia on business it’s up to the kids to get the house ready. Cue Mr. Daniels from Texas who shows up at their house asking about the crate. Lives are at stake, man! He must find that package before more people die. Jeff is obviously confused and sends the man packing.

Jeff discovers The Television in the attic and brings it into his room. After rolling the saddest joint I’ve ever seen and them smoking it, a woman calls to him from the TV. Suddenly she’s in his room, kissing him, stroking him, yada yada, then POOF! She’s goes back into the TV. While Jeff whines to her about it (obviously she’s never hear of blue balls), a man sneaks up on the woman and slits her throat.

The man explains that he is the Garbage Man and she’s not a real lady. Look! She’s actually dead. She can make you think she’s normal. They all can! He instructs Jeff that he must lock up the television. Put a mirror over the screen, shiny side in thankyouverymuch because they hate to look at themselves, and secure that bitch somewhere no one can find it and so the zombies can’t escape. After flushing the bag of pot down the toilet, Jeff swears off the stuff for good.

Next morning, when he sees the negligee of the TV woman laying on his floor, he realizes he didn’t have a drug induced hallucination. It was all real! He takes the TV down to the basement and as he tries to secure a mirror over it, an undead hand reaches through and grabs him. Lucky for Jeff his family keeps a hatchet in the toolbox so he is able to dispatch of the ghoul quickly.
Too bad all the others that escaped THREE FUCKING MONTHS AGO are still roaming the neighborhood. After four more deaths, Mr. Texas comes back and now he and Jeff need to convince Zoe that the zombies are real. These zombies only want to kill the living – the one thing they can’t be anymore and that pisses them off, I guess. But if you don’t show fear, they will become confused and not kill you. Umm….

Exposition time! There are only two ways to kill the undead. One way is to attack them any way you would a living person: guns, arrows, anything to make them THINK you’re killing them. Then they will die. WTF? The second is to trap them in a place they can’t escape, they will go crazy, and eat themselves to death. WTFF?

After a lot of running around and more death, Zoe is confronted with a horde of undead. But she remembers: don’t show fear. So she puts on her best smile, serves the zombies canned stew, and tricks them into the basement. Because there is a big mirror on the inside of the basement door, they can’t go through it and escape. They all go crazy and die.

The End.

Oh dear sweet baby Jesus. I’ve seen a lot of crap horror in my time but this has got to be the crappiest by far. And I’ve seen Goremet Zombie Chef from Hell and Repligator!

Almost every aspect of this movie sucked, from the acting, the writing, to the plot development. The Garbage Man? Never comes up again. You’d think Jeff might mention something like that to Mr. Texas. Random bits of info are sprayed all over the film like a rump roast through an industrial fan. While Jeff and his friend, April, are talking on the phone she casually mentions that her dad is porking the maid then hangs up! When Mr. Texas first comes to the house, Jeff explains to him about his dad’s business. Why? Maybe just to cover up the gaping plot holes. Who the hell knows?

The zombies confused me. They want to kill the living but they don’t eat them. They put them in washing machines, strangle them, put party hats on them. They also giggle a lot, bemused by such inventions as a blender or a wig. They are smart enough to figure out how to use chainsaws and sticks as weapons but when it comes to knocking a mirror off a door so they can escape the basement (a move one of the zombies did only a few minutes earlier to get INTO the house) they are clueless. And what’s with the ‘make them believe you’re killing them and they’ll die’ bullshit? An iron into the brain doesn’t convince them but a toy arrow in the back does?

The zombie makeup wasn’t too bad. Aside from the bright red fresh looking blood that oozed out of them or the one zombie that looked like A Flock of Seagulls boinked Smurfette, the zombies looked kinda creepy. Unfortunately it just wasn’t enough to save this film.

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