Shout! Factory continues to give classic cult films of the horror genre the attention they deserve with the release of “TerrorVision / The Video Dead” Double Feature on Blu-ray. Both of these are rarely seen 1980s movies that each sit on the opposite end of the quality spectrum. While “TerrorVision” succeeds in its mission to be campy and over-the-top, “The Video Dead” fails because it’s meant to be taken seriously to an extent. One is intended to be completely funny and enjoyable while the other is to be taken as scary with a touch of black humor. It misses its goal.
“TerrorVision” perfectly encapsulates every aspect of the 1980s into one film. You’ve got the old grandfather who thinks TV rots your brains and lives in a military bunker while waiting for a third world war. The young son is innocent and loves horror and sci-fi movies. The daughter is a new wave / punk hybrid with multi-colored hair that dates a head-banger named “OD.” Their parents are still living in the 1970s and don’t want to give up their swinging lifestyle.
Top all that off with a big slimy monster that looks like a twisted version of Jabba the Hutt, an alien taken straight out of a 1950s sci-fi film, and a late-night TV host and you have all the ingredients for a film written and produced by B-movie king Charles Band. I would put it up there with fine examples of the decade like “Valley Girl” and “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” It’s definitely essential viewing for anyone reflecting on the era.
“The Video Dead” fails on all levels because it won’t accept itself as a horror / comedy and tries to be serious. It’s hard to believe this was made through MGM. The film couldn’t have had more than a $5.00 budget if even that. Bad acting, a 36-year old lady trying to play an early-20s college girl, flimsy zombie make-up, and bizarre ways to kill the TV creatures all add up to an unintentionally hilarious movie that borders on unwatchable.
The high-definition transfers for the movies will make viewers happy. The picture is cleaner but doesn’t lose any of its 1980’s “real film” flavor. Both movies feature an adequate 5.1 surround sound mix. It’s nothing audio enthusiasts are going to get excited over.
Shout! Factory never lets the consumer down when it comes to special features for their Blu-ray horror releases. “TerrorVision” contains audio commentary by Writer / Director Ted Nicolaou and stars Diane Franklin and Jon Gries. A 34-minute featurette entitled “Monster on Demand: The Making of ‘TerrorVision'” takes us behind the scenes of the movie through new interviews with the cast and filmmakers. A poster and still gallery is also included.
Although it’s the lesser of the two movies, “The Video Dead” contains more bonus material. Perhaps Shout! Factory felt the need to supplement more extras to make up for such a horrible film. Two commentaries are included. The first one has Writer / Producer / Director Robert Scott, Editor Bob Sarles, and Makeup Effects Creator Dale Hall, Jr. discussing the making of the movie.
The second one includes actors Roxanne Augesen and Rocky Duvall, Moderator Chris MacGibbon, Production Manager Jacues Thelemaque, Makeup Effects Creator Dale Hall, Jr. and Makeup Assistant Patrick Denver chatting about life behind the scenes of the film.
A featurette entitled “Pre-Recordead” addresses the zombie makeup and visual effects through interviews with Makeup Effects Creator Dale Hale, Jr. and Makeup Assistant Patrick Denver. Special features are rounded out by outtakes, a “Behind-the-Scenes” still gallery, a poster and still gallery, and a trailer.
The “TerrorVision / The Video Dead” Double Feature Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack is another great addition to a growing library of classic horror releases in high-definition. “TerrorVision” more than makes this worth the money for collectors who are intent on upgrading their home movie library. “The Video Dead” is merely extra fluff to suffer through for a good laugh at its bad acting and awkward moments.
The “TerrorVision / The Video Dead” Scream! Factory Double Feature Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack is available now.
For more articles by Eric Shirey, check out:
DVD Review: “Cherry Tree Lane”
Blu-ray Review: “Paranormal Activity 4: Unrated Edition”
Blu-ray Review: “All Superheroes Must Die”