TerrorVision Blu-ray Review
Written by ZigZag
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Written and directed by Ted Nicolaou
1986, Region A, 85 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on February 19th, 2013
Diane Franklin as Suzy
Chad Allen as Sherman Putterman
Jon Gries as O.D.
Mary Woronov as Raquel Putterman
Gerrit Graham as Stanley Putterman
Burt Remsen as Grampa
Alejandro Rey as Spiro
The Putterman family is a nuclear knockoff, each position filled by a caricature of 1980s humanity. The parents are swingers, grandpa is a survivalist, Suzy is a valley girl with a heavy metal boyfriend and Sherman is a hyper kid with a gun fetish. Put them all together under one roof and you have a vomit-inducing nightmare, until you throw a monster into the mix and then things start to get interesting.
The Putterman house is an art deco atrocity with televisions in every room, a bomb shelter for grandpa, an Olympic-sized Jacuzzi in the front room and sexually graphic artwork and sculptures galore. This group of self-absorbed morons lives in a cartoon world filled with so much noise and excess that the world could end and they wouldn’t notice, as long as it didn’t disrupt their viewing habits.
Stanley Putterman has just installed his new satellite dish and is eager to surf the endless wave of TV channels, but the fun is interrupted when an intergalactic beam transmits a monster into the house that can travel from one monitor to the next, upsetting not for obvious reasons, but because it interrupts the picture reception. Stanley takes his wife Raquel out to meet more sexually open couples while Suzy goes on a date with her boyfriend, leaving her little brother with the old man in the shelter. Grandpa convinces young Sherman that everything can be blamed on the Communist party and that the two of them must stand up for their rights with guns blazing. Contact is made with the monster, that initially appears friendly, which it is…but it simply knows how delicious humans can be and things get weird.
TerrorVision is a goofy sci-fi comedy determined to warp twelve-year olds with its mixture of Saturday morning mayhem and salacious adult behavior. Ted Nicolaou (Subspecies) was given the assignment to direct a movie based on the poster art provided by Empire Pictures studio head, Charles Band. A monster coming out of a satellite dish was the basic premise and Ted felt it would best be treated as a comedy that plays like a surreal TV sitcom from Hell. The cast does a fine job delivering broad and farcical performances that enhance this fever dream. Mary Woronov (Death Race 2000), Garrit Graham (Phantom of the Paradise), Diane Franklin (Amityville II: The Possession) and Jon Gries (Real Genius) chew through the scenery with an unexpected skill that keeps things moving at a manic pace, while Chad Allen (Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman) and Burt Remsen (Nashville) wade through the gaps in the action, awkwardly clinging to their firearms.
While subtlety is the first casualty, the biggest stumbling block is the bloated running time that could stand to lose about ten minutes. Given that Nicolaou started as an editor of kitschy low-budget horror (Tourist Trap, Ghoulies, Trancers), one would hope his directorial debut would move a lot quicker. The film is far out and goofy, but collapses under the weight of being desperately campy. Fans will rejoice in this deluxe edition, but casual viewers may want to keep the remote handy.
Video and Audio:
TerrorVision is presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Colors are generally soft and muted, while black levels are fairly solid. The film was shot with a generally flat lighting design that makes the end result look like a bizarre soap opera, but the picture has received a nice re-mastering for its digital debut.
Shout! Factory offers a respectable DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio lossless audio mix and a DTS HD 2.0 MA track that preserves the original stereo presentation. Not an overly aggressive mix but either track gets the job done. Dialogue is always clear and free from distortion. English subtitles are provided.
Shout! Factory provides a generous amount of supplemental materials for a pair of lesser known titles and fans will be surprised by some of these treats on display.
TerrorVision offers an audio commentary with director Ted Nicolaou and actors Diane Franklin and Jon Gries. The three clearly enjoy the material and each other’s company as they deliver an energetic track filled with numerous on-set anecdotes. This is a solid track that never falls into the trappings of extended silences or plot narration.
Monster On Demand: The Making of TerrorVision (38minutes) is a surprisingly thorough retrospective featuring new interviews with several members of the cast and crew, all of whom share fond memories of their experiences while filming in Italy. Effects legend John Carl Buechler laughs at the creature design and director Nicolaou makes no apologies for his film.
A gallery of production stills rounds out the special features.
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