Terrorvision

Day Twenty Six of the 2010 Silver Shamrock Happy Halloween Countdown!

Happy Halloween Countdown Day Twenty Six

Terrorvision

Before he founded Full Moon, Charles Band had a little production company based in Rome called Empire Pictures (Empire in Rome? Ha!).  Empire Pictures made the sort of films that we’ve come expect from Band, who has spent a career making horror and fantasy films on the cheap, not that there is anything wrong with that.   The horror genre has a rich and honorable history of low budget productions.   Horror maybe the only genre where a filmmaker can make a career of making  good bad movies.

Consider Roger Corman –  prior to the movies he made with Vincent Price for AIP in the 1960’s, Corman’s films could only be described as bad movies.  By the time he hit AIP, not  only had Corman become an experienced filmmaker, he has access to talented actors, writers and crew, most of whom where either winding down their careers (Boris Karloff and Vincent Price) or just starting out (Jack Nicholson and Dennis Hopper).  Corman was a no nonsense guy who made the most of that he had –  under no illusion that he was doing anything but cranking out B pictures – he made the best films that he could.

Roger Corman is the godfather of the good bad movie.  Corman’s string of loose Edgar Allen Poe adaptations, with screenplays written by guys like the prolific  Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont, starring Vincent Price and other stars who either slid off of, or never quite made it to the “A List,” are the best of the good bad movies.  When you have a good bad movie and add time to the equation you get one of two things: a classic horror film (The Raven, Masque of the Red Death) or a cult classic (Night of the Living Dead, Phantasm).  Charles Band didn’t aspire to be another Orson Wells.  He aspired to be another Roger Corman.  That’s not, from my point of view an ignoble goal at all.  There are certainly worse things you could do with your life than making quality low budget movies that are highly entertaining.

Today’s film, Terrorvision, is one of Band’s Empire Pictures earlier efforts.  It’s been one of my favorite movies since I saw it back in 1986.   Written and directed by  Ted Nicolaou (who also gave us Subspecies), Terrorvision loving skewers the horror, sci-fi and exploitation films of the postwar and Cold War eras.

An interstellar waste disposal station accidentally fires off an energy signal containing a ravenous hunger beast which gets picked up by the Putterman family’s new satellite dish.  The beast is able to change form and absorb everything it feeds upon, much like the monster from John Carpenter’s The Thing.  The Putterman family is headed by Stanley and  Raquel, who enjoy swinging, and pornographic art; there is also Grandpa, who is a paranoid survivalist; Suzy, the daughter, who looks like she’s entered a Cyndi Lauper look-a-like contest; Sherman, the son, who spends a lot of time shooting things with Grandpa, and OD, Suzy’s heavy metal crazed boyfriend.  The entire cast is made up of actors that you will recognize, but not remember where you’ve seen them before.

The effects, dialogue and production values are all wonderfully bad in that nothing about the world of Terrorvision is natural and “real.” This is not to say that Terrorvision looks hodgepodged together.  It’s a good bad movie made by people who clearly know what they are doing. Terrorvision is a lot of fun and richly deserves to be considered a classic 1980’s good bad movie.  Fans of Larry Blamire should really check this one out.

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