Welcome to another installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be sharing various pieces of underappreciated scary books, comics, movies, and television to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.
I grew up on 80’s films. After my parents went to bed, I used to sneak back into the living room to see what HBO had cooking. I remember sitting closer to the TV than I probably should have, with the volume turned down low so I wouldn’t wake them. One of the gems that I was lucky enough to see was the pure 80’s cheesefest known as TerrorVision. A campy horror movie that I am thrilled to say makes me smile now just as much as it did when I was younger.
Made in 1986, TerrorVIsion is the epitome of the 80’s. The film opens with a very catch theme song by The Fibonaccis. Seriously, there are days when the song pops into my head and I end up humming it. If I’m by myself, I might even sing it. From there, we go to the sanitation department on the planet Pluton. Sanitation department on another planet? Yup! Pets on Pluton, known in the film as “hungry beasts,” can mutate and become violent. When that happens, there’s only one thing to do: beam their crazy ass to another planet and let the beast be their problem. Unfortunately for Earth, the beast just landed.
We are introduced to the Puttermans, your normal, everyday suburbanite family. No, I lied, the family is crazy as hell. The father, Stanley, is hard at work installing his new “Do-It-Yourself 100” satellite dish, complete with the biggest damn remote that you’ve ever seen in your life. The mother, Raquel, is in front of the tube, exercising in classic 80’s spandex. We also meet the kids, Sherman and Suzy, and Grandpa, an army veteran. Sherman is a bit neurotic, wears army fatigues, and “plays” war with Grandpa. Suzy, played by Diane Franklin (Better off Dead, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure) is your normal-for-the-80’s teen punk rocker, complete with an excessive amount of jewelry and multi-colored hair. She dating a headbanger named O.D., who just happens to be Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite.
The bad luck arrives when a Plutonian beam transporting a beast hits Stanley’s satellite in the backyard. Suzy and O.D. head out for a wild night, while the parents go out swining, and I don’t mean the type of swinging that you would do on a playground. That’s when the weird s--t begins. Grandpa and Sherman, left along, stumble upon a monster movie show hosted by a lady named Medusa, an easy rip-off of Elvira, boobs and all. Somehow, the beast appears on the screen, then teleports through the TV and kills poor Grandpa.
When Sherman’s parents return home, he tells them what happened to Grandpa. They aren’t convinced or interested, especially since they’ve brought home a sexy couple to swing with. Gotta love the 80’s! So Sherman’s mother locks him inside of Grandpa’s well-made fallout shelter. Plot twist, Grandpa is alive! Well, not really. We discover the beast has the ability to replicate the people that he kills, which clearly isn’t going to fair well for the family.
TerrorVision is the perfect campy horror film. It oozes the 80’s, oozes like all the lubricant the filmmakers cover the beast in. The beast is a prime example of what special effects were like in the 80’s. There was no soulless CGI, you had to roll up your sleeves and build the damn monsters that you wanted in your film! The beast is so large that he is rarely fully in frame. Most of the time the filmmakers just used the parts that were necessary for the shot. The monster is a big, goofy bastard that you can’t help but love. One of my favorite parts of the movie is when Suzy, O.D., and Sherman attempt to teach the beast about music, food, and how to speak. It is clearly a nod to E.T. and works brilliantly.
If you haven’t seen TerrorVision, I highly recommend giving it a watch. Don’t go in thinking that you’re going to get this fantastic horror movie, because you’re not. When the beast kills there isn’t any blood, just green goo as he liquidates his victims. When heads get smashed, they’re clearly rubber. The low budget-ness is part of the film’s charm.
Believe it or not, it used to be a task to get your hands on the movie, it just sorta hung in limbo. I’m lucky enough to have a VHS copy, but now you can get it in Blu-Ray format. Snag yourself a copy, check your brain at the door, and dance by the light of the TV screen. You’ll see what I mean. Enjoy!
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