A kitschy mash-up spoof of terrible 1950s creature-features, 'TerrorVision' revels in its Z-grade badness with one ridiculously absurd joke after another. Updating the formula of those classic low-budget drive-in pictures, the movie isn't afraid of making itself the butt of wisecracks on several occasions. Working from the notion that television rots your brain — and perhaps, can even kill — and taking inspiration from the growing popularity of satellite cable, an enormous gaudy dish grabs on to the wrong signal from a distant planet throwing out its trash: a mutating monster traditionally kept as pets. Apparently, as we later find out, shooting them out into the farthest reaches of the universe is the most humane form of euthanasia.
The body count quickly starts to rise as the hideous creature, which feeds by first liquefying its meal, develops an appetite for human flesh. It's up to three boneheaded teenagers of the MTV generation to save the day. Conventional military force comes by way of an aspiring Jarhead boy named Sherman (Chad Allen, providing the only serious performance of the entire movie). The teen lovebirds are an absolute riot as they're also fashion victims of their time. First, there's older sister Suzy, who dresses like a Cyndi Lauper impersonator and played by Diane Franklin, the pretty love-interest of 'Better Off Comedy' and 'Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.' Then, there's her Dokken-reject, surfer-talking boyfriend O.D. (Jon Cries, who's also great as Napoleon Dynamite's Uncle Rico).
Adding to the silliness and hilarity is director Ted Nicolaou (better known by horror fanatics as the director of the 'Subspecies' film series) using the gaudiest and most tasteless aspects of the 1980s. The kids' parents, played terrifically by Mary Woronov and Gerrit Graham, are unabashed swingers trapped in a fashion time-warp. Their house is like something the decade would barf up after the worst night of binge-drinking. They even have the audacity to bring home dates while the kids are trying to save the planet. A late-night horror host named Medusa (Jennifer Richards) shows up packing her cleavage, and character actor Bert Remsen also makes a short appearance as Grandpa. 'TerrorVision' is a twisted, tongue-in-cheek blast from the past. (Movie Rating: 3.5/5)
The Video Dead
The Z-grade horror mayhem continues in 'The Video Dead' when an old dial-turn TV is delivered to the wrong address, and it unleashes zombies from a fictional midnight movie called "Zombie Blood Nightmare." Packaged inside a wooden crate a with mirror over the screen, the magical set is a bizarre getaway between fantasy and reality, turning itself on in the middle of the night, even after being unplugged by its new oblivious owner. How it's capable to do this is never explained, a small little tidbit that's soon overlooked once we take a good gander at the great make-up effects work of Dale Hall, Jr. It turns out the supernatural TV was meant for delivery to the Institute for Paranormal Research, another bogus title for a micro-budget spoof of Romero zombie movies.
Three months after that delivery gaffe, which also failed at recovering the TV, a new family is set to move into the house where the previous owner was found dead. Parents are not expected to arrive until much later, so siblings Zoe (Roxanna Augesen) and Jeff (Rocky Duvall) must fend for themselves while also made responsible for unpacking the entire house. Neither seems to care for the move, but Jeff sees a small shimmer of hope upon meeting April (Vickie Bastel), who lives down the street and weirdly thinks her name is appropriate only as a scent in laundry detergents. That same day, he discovers the set and decides to watch the tube while smoking a doobie and fantasizing with a blonde bombshell (Jennifer Miro of The Nuns) that reaches out to touch him.
In the meanwhile, the small band of zombies which early escaped has learned to roam free in the nearby woods — conveniently unnoticed and unheard by surrounding neighbors. When they finally decide to invade suburbia, the laughs tag along with the ensuing chaos as one patriarchal zombie finds a pair of glasses in his prescription and a zombie bride tries to be a homemaker. In comes the cavalry to the rescue by way of a down-and-out Texan cowboy (Sam David McClelland) who sets down the rules of the plot which eventually save the day. The whole thing is silly and completely bonkers, but it's all in good fun, content with being a badly-made horror flick you can laugh at. Where else can you find a human piñata for the walking dead or a zombie that chases the living with a chainsaw? (Movie Rating: 3.5/5)
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Shout! Factory brings 'TerrorVision' and 'The Video Dead' to Blu-ray as a double-feature two-disc combo pack under the distributor's Scream Factory line. The Region A locked, BD50 disc is housed inside a blue, eco-elite case with a second DVD-9 disc on the opposing panel. At startup, the disc goes to an interactive, animated main menu where viewers can first choose between the two movies. Then, you're taking to your selection with the standard options, full-motion clips and music.
Despite being a massive improvement over previous home video editions, 'TerrorVision' airs on Blu-ray with an average 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode. The 1.85:1 image doesn't arrive with any serious artifacts, but the age of the source really shows with acceptable fine object detailing. A fine layer of grain is visible throughout while resolution is generally well-balanced and stable. Contrast is clean and consistent, providing a pleasingly bright picture. Blacks levels are strong and accurate, but they can look a bit flat and murky in some spots. The kitschy 80s color palette benefits the most with vibrant primaries and warm secondary hues. It's an overall passable and mildly satisfying presentation. (Video Rating: 3/5)
The Video Dead
For a micro-budgeted movie shot on 16mm, 'The Video Dead' doesn't look half bad on this AVC-encoded transfer (1.85:1). In fact, it looks great, all things considered. With a thick layer of grain present throughout, contrast is comfortably bright with plenty of excellent visibility in the background action. Shadows are less than satisfying on occasion, but black levels remain deep and true for the most part. Primaries receive a generous boost by making the jump into high-def while the other the pastel hues are rendered accurately and cleanly. Overall definition is precisely as we'd expect from the source, which is not a bad thing. Fine object and textural details are quite strong and distinct, making this is a surprisingly good video presentation. (Video Rating: 3/5)
The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is in a similar boat as the video: it's passable but with nothing that stands out. Viewers have the option of a 5.1 upscale or the original stereo, and surprisingly, the former actually sounds slightly better. Don't get me wrong, there's technical nothing wrong with the latter, but it generally feels lifeless and narrow. On the other hand, the 5.1 mix widens the imaging somewhat for a more welcoming soundstage with intelligible, well-prioritized dialogue reproduction. The mid-range also seems to enjoy a bit more breathing room, yet the design never really pushes into the higher frequencies. Bass is also practically non-existent. In the end, it's a decently good lossless track that suits the movie's low-budget origins well. (Audio Rating: 3/5)
The Video Dead
Like its accompanying movie, viewers are given a choice between the original stereo and an upscaled 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The latter is fine for what it is, but generally seems simulated and forced. The original design is definitely the stronger of the two, mainly because it feels more natural to the movie. In either case, however, the lossless mix doesn't make much of an impression with a flat and narrow dynamic range, which has more to do with the limited production than the codec. There's also no bass whatsoever, making the entire track feel dull and listless. On the bright side, vocals are loud and clear in the center, which at least counts for something in an otherwise lackluster presentation. (Audio Rating: 2.5/5)
The Video Dead
Shout! Factory offers a crazy double feature in a pair of Z-grade DTV favorites from the late 1980s. A flesh-eating alien invades a swinger's home in 'TerrorVision' while zombies reminisce on their suburban lives in 'The Video Dead.' Connecting both movies is the theme of a television set serving as the getaway between fantasy and reality. The Blu-ray arrives with good picture quality but a slightly less satisfying audio presentation. However, a small collection of brand-new bonus material makes the overall package a great purchase for cult horror enthusiasts.