Terrorvision (1986)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Terrorvision</strong> (1986)

(On Cable TV, January 2013) I must be losing whatever little horror-camp sense of humor I might have had, because my reaction to this horror/comedy hybrid is closer to faint disgust than knowledgeable amusement.  Terrorvision (watched because of three silly reasons: I’d never heard of it, it shares a title with a British pop band I like and it could be recorded on the PVR without too much trouble) mixes lame comedy with gooey horror in showing an extraterrestrial monster invading a family home.  But it’s all in the execution, and clearly the filmmakers had no intention of delivering a conventional film.  Here, the family home is decorated like a brothel, the adults are swingers, the grandpa is a survivalist, the teenage daughter incarnates 80s-pop-chic and all are meant to become monster fodder.  Terrorvision is directed with a sense of overacting, plastic sets, straightforward cinematography and a garish design sense that make lower-rung sitcoms look subtle.  The initial impression is off-putting (especially for those without affinity with trash camp cinema), but what keeps the first half-hour interesting is a growing dismay at how bad the movie can become, mixed with an unhealthy fascination at seeing so many 80s clichés piling up on-screen.  (Also: getting a glimpse at the naughty art on the wall of the house)  Once half the family has been killed shortly after the hour-long mark, however, much of the interest evaporates, leaving a slight sense of grossness at the results.  Grotesque and iconoclastic, Terrovision does have a few things going for it: its willingness to subvert expectations, however, would have been more acceptable had it been tempered with better laughs, fewer gross-out moments, a bit more wit and/or some nudity (curiously enough for a non-mainstream horror/comedy hybrid, Terrorvision mercilessly teases but never delivers.)  I ended up fast-forwarding through much of the last half-hour, and watching the last few minutes in real-time did not make me regret that decision despite the narrative subversion that gets wilder and wilder as the film advances.  In fact, I felt slightly dirty after watching the film, as if it hadn’t managed to earn its transgressions with basic filmmaking competence.  But then again, maybe I’m losing my sense of humor.

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