I have 477 movies in my Netflix Instant queue. I tend to watch one thing for every five that I add, but now my library is close to being full and I have to make room. So, every Monday I’m going to pick a random movie out of my queue and review the shit out of it. But (like Jesus), I’m also thinking of you and your unwieldy queue and all the movies in it you want to watch but no longer have the time to now that you’ve become so awesome and popular. Let me know what has been gathering digital dust in your Netflix Instant library and I’ll watch that, too. One Monday for you and the next for me and so on. Let’s get to it.
What’s the movie? TerrorVision (1986)
What’s it rated? Rated R for dripping, gooey alien nastiness, Jon Gries overacting to the point of inconceivability and people swinging in the mid ’80’s.
Did people make it? Written by Ted Nicolaou and Charles Band. Directed by Ted Nicolaou. Acted By Chad Allen, Diane Franklin, Mary Woronov, Gerrit Graham, Bert Remson, Jon (Jonathan) Gries and Jennifer Richards.
What’s it like in one sentence? A movie that was made and exists.
Why did you watch it? My friend Marc Mason says it’s one of his favorites and Chewers Rockatansky and goji whole-heartedly agreed.
What’s it about in one paragraph? On a distant planet from Earth, an alien guy launches troublesome other aliens into space as garbage to float around in the void for all eternity. Meanwhile on Earth, The Putterman family (addicts of excess and decadence) installs a brand new satellite dish that’s supposed to help them get all these crazy channels that only exist if you have a dish. Somehow after the alien guy launches an alien monster into space, it ricochets around a few planets and then gets absorbed by The Putterman’s satellite dish, so now the monster beams itself into the house whenever it wants to and tries to absorb The Puttermans and guests. It’s up to The Putterman’s young son Sherman and their (80’s style) punk daughter Suzy to fight the monster before it gets out and wreaks havoc on the world.
Play or remove from my queue? If you haven’t seen this I recommend it be the next movie you watch. This one… I mean, I’m pretty sure they don’t make them like this anymore or if they even made them at all. This movie has to be an anomaly. I couldn’t even tell if the movie was future retro and felt really ’80’s, or if it was supposed to actually be taking place in the future. I have never seen a movie before where I couldn’t tell what decade it was supposed to be set in. It could easily be set in 1986 or 2186 for all I know. Their satellite dish is supposed to be super expensive and of the highest quality, but when they are watching television it always has a bar of fuzz across the top like you’re watching a VHS tape and the tracking is all messed up. Does that mean it’s the future and any television reception is better than none, or did the film have such a low budget they couldn’t spring for a TV that played shit right? None of these questions matter because TerrorVision is one of the most ridiculously entertaining movies I’ve ever seen in my life, warts and all.
The parents of our two heroic kids, Stanley and Raquel Putterman, are so unbelievable (in the way they are written and as they are played by Gerrit Graham and Mary Woronov) that the film descends into some kind of weird camp\retro alternate universe hybrid every time they’re onscreen. They’re swingers who just want to get a little action with some strangers in their indoor swimming pool while showing off their sweet new cable set up. When young Sherman watches Grandpa get taken out, he runs to his folks to try and get a little help, but they’re too busy trying to shag some Greek guy and his blonde wife to care. They even lock him in the bomb shelter Grandpa lives in to keep him out of their hair. The only problem is that the monster has already eaten Grandpa and either absorbed him and can speak through his head or the monster makes little copies of the people it absorbs. I never quite figured that out and I watched the whole movie. Sometimes it’s a big googly eyed monster that looks like a cross between Emil in Robocop after he gets dunked in the toxic waste and Mr. Kool-Aid and then other times it looks like the head of one of the Puttermans and can talk in their voice and stuff. Maybe I wasn’t smart enough for this one. Wait, the point of this was the parents of the kids in this movie are assholes. They are bigoted and homophobic and only care about getting their fuck on and basically leave the kids to take care of themselves. It’s nice to see parents in the movies like the parents of today.
Grandpa is pretty awesome (and psychotic) with his much less creepy than expected bomb shelter. He’s fully prepared for the end of days and has a lucrative business making different types of food out of lizard tails since they grow back and are self sustaining. He trains Sherman in the ways of assault rifles, so Sherm is ready when the fit hits the shan. Grandpa does die first though, so I think the message here is that no matter how well you prepare for horrible shit to happen, none of it will protect you from monsters that come out of your television. Jon Gries also pops up for a bit as Suzy Putterman’s punk rock boyfriend, O.D. Gries is pretty bad in this (over the top in the same way Bill Paxton was in Aliens), but he says in an interview he gave with the A.V. Club that the director kept making him go bigger and bigger until he was too over the top. I could definitely see a director being responsible for this performance but, either way, he should maybe delete this from his IMDB page and memory. Also, is it bad that one of my signposts for somebody being cool or not is whether they recognize Jon Gries as Uncle Rico or as the werewolf from Fright Night 2? He will always be that lovably tragic werewolf to me.
Charles, Richard and Albert Band are responsible for this movie, which is sort of perfect since right after this they founded Full Moon Features (along with house director Ted Nicolaou) and made shit like Subspecies and the Puppet Master oeuvre for years to come. It takes a special kind of sensibility to make movies like this. Movies that suck when compared to other movies, but left on their own are kind of brilliant and perfect in their unique sensibilities. TerrorVision has made a wonderful double feature with last weeks film Lifeforce, in that they are unapologetically products of their time and could give two shits or a fuck what their legacy might be in the future. No one could have made TerrorVision and thought that it would stand up to any form of scrutiny 5 years later, let alone 25. But if that’s what you’re watching these sorts of movies for then I don’t know what to tell you. Other than to take shit a little less seriously for a while and enjoy one of the most ridiculous films in the history of B cinema.
Do you have a favorite line? “What the hell did that homo do to the jacuzz?”
Do you have an interesting fun-fact? There’s a brief shot of the DAD-8, the world’s first CD player. It came out in 1983-84, which is way earlier than I ever thought they existed. Way to go, history.
What does Netflix say I’d like if I like this? Breakfast of Aliens (Doesn’t look too promising), Creature (Fucking Klaus Kinski is in this), Death Machine (I used to love this movie but I’m afraid to revisit it), Laserblast (The MST3K version was a blast! Heh.) and Deep Space (Bo Svenson and Julie Newmar directed by Fred Olen Ray??? Where has this been my whole life?).
What does Jared say I’d like if I like this? The entire Full Moon Pictures catalogue. Also, Kool Aid.
What is Netflix’s best guess for Jared? 2.2
What is Jared’s best guess for Jared? 3.3
Can you link to the movie? I sure can!
Any last thoughts? Seriously, can anyone name the last movie that was made that is remotely in this film’s ballpark in regards to weirdness and general unsanitary behavior?
Did you watch anything else this week? Shark Night 3D!!! It was just what I was looking for. I also watched The Ward which I’ll have a review up for next week.
Next Week? Tales From Earthsea. Studio Ghibli up in this piece.