Netflix Roulette: TerrorVision (1986)
Netflix Roulette is based off the random selections that Netflix thinks that I would enjoy. Since I’m as eclectic as they come, I’m almost positive that the program just spits out whatever it wants and then says “We think Horatio will score this a 1.5.” Oh Netflix, how wrong you are.
It had to happen sooner or later really. Personally, I think someone at Netflix read my review of Octane and saw the bit about only crap movies being available to stream. That’s fixed now. Netflix has evolved into its highest form yet. But I digress from my point. This installment of NR is about the greatest sci-fi/horror-comedy I’ve ever seen.
That’s right. TerrorVision.
(Notice the tagline is stolen from Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.)
Still easier to program than a DirecTV remote.
First off, I’ll just warn you ahead of time. This movie is like a bad dream. It’s poorly made and poorly acted but has that weird 80′s vibe that permeates so many of its horror movie siblings from the decade. You don’t know what it is but something is off. Maybe it’s the fact that Mister Putterman’s a swinger and while showing his family how the dish works, one of the first channels he flips to is showing an orgy. That’s the kind of parenting I can get behind.
Nothing says family time like Channel 69.
The plot, while handled pretty fast and loose even for a horror comedy, is completely over the top, replete with so much sexual innuendo I’m not even sure if the screenwriter was aware of what he was doing. The houses’ interior is filled with naked water fountain statues that squirt from their nipples, Coop-esque paintings of women in S&M roleplay scenes, and no one even bats an eye at it. Everyone is too busy wrapped up in being oversexed, undersexed, eating lizard tail jerky, or being a moron to notice. Let’s face it, The Putterman’s are the family you wished you lived next door to. So anyway, here’s the overview.
Almost positive that thing doesn’t have a manual either.
An alien sanitation worker accidentally beams a mutated creature into our solar system who hits the Putterman’s satellite dish and comes out of the T.V. Ready to eat everything in its path. I won’t show you what the creature looks like because it’s too hilarious to accurately describe. This kind of puppetry has to be seen to be believed. Since it doesn’t have a name, I’ll call it “Ralph” because it looks like puke with eyes.
“Ralph” has awesome powers. He has a pincher that he uses as a straw to suck your internal organs out, a tongue that’s like eighty feet long, which he uses to animate the decapitated heads of the victims he’s eaten, and can travel from TV to TV by means of a rainbow colored electrical storm. This dude knows how to invade a planet, yo.
Sexual deviancy has never been more hilarious.
It’s not a spoiler to say that a lot of people die. What is unexpected is the sheer random body count that Ralph racks up for the high score and in the ways he does it. Sure there are some hilarious E.T. moments where the kids try to introduce the creature to music, earth food, and television but this is after people have been dried of their bodies, consumed, and then crapped onto the floor in mounds of bloody diarrhea.
If David Cronenberg is the godfather of body horror, then Ted Nicolaou is the godfather of “telehorror.” Simply put, it’s the notion that television and radio is inherently evil and interaction with such will result in disaster. Telecommunication is routinely bastardized in movies as the door to another universe (Stay Tuned), dimension (Poltergeist), the medium to communicate with the dead (Pulse), or the vehicle to make you go nuts (The Signal).
In the age of HD, the average person understands exactly how everything works and therefore the mysticism of the unknown is gone. But this is the 1980′s. The digital age was in its birthing stage. And there was no limit to what one could dream up about technology. Here in lies the sheer brilliance of this movie.
My face after watching this movie.
It’s a movie with terrible acting, terrible effects, and dialogue that’s smarter than most movies coming out today. While the plot device isn’t original, the whole thing is and stays true to its surrealist environment with unmitigated enthusiasm. I loved every minute of this weird film and will now have a permanent slot in my queue. View it immediately. But don’t sit too close to the TV. We already know it’s not the only thing that can rot your brain.
By the way, here’s the best part of the movie.
Marlee Matlin wins Best Actress 1986. This is an injustice.
Dante Villanova is an avid freelance fiction writer, movie reviewer, and video game enthusiast. He dual wields sarcasm and cynicism like twin katanas and enjoys filleting pop culture for sport.