Monday, March 11, 2013

TerrorVision, In Which I Rant About The Beauty of Diane Franklin

You know when you see Charles Band's name in the opening credits for the film that you're in for a special time, especially when it's for Empire International Pictures, the predecessor to Full Moon. Add in Gerrit Graham and Mary Woronov with a dash of Diane Franklin, and you have quite a treat of a film. Also, John Gries.

Despite the terrifying looking cover, this film is placed firmly in the camp category of horror. From the painted backdrop that stands in for the night sky in the backyard to the swinging single pleasure dome (you'll see), it doesn't really hide this fact at all. In fact, it pretty much oozes it from the get go.

We open with an alien beaming a monster away from his ship at the same time that Stanley Putterman (Graham) is setting up his brand new, fancy-ass satellite dish. The creature, which has become pure energy, flies into the dish and takes up residence in the televisions of the house. Soon enough, it's gobbling up family members and visitors and it's up to the Putterman's young son Sherman and his sister Suzie to try and stop it. Oh, there's also and Elvira wannabe named Medusa that's pretty great as well.

Sure, it sounds like your by-the-numbers horror/sci-fi mix, but it's the execution that really carries it above the rest of it's low budget brethren. Indeed, it's fitting that this movie is available as a double bill with The Video Dead as they both have a similar, campy charm, though TerrorVision's is on purpose and the former simply ends up that way thanks to the amateur acting of the cast.

The practical effects on the monster are really nifty. In a time where we are used to seeing slick and symmetrical creatures, it's nice to watch a throwback where the creature looks like an amalgam of Ghostbusters toys that have been melted together in the attic and then reanimated. The result is a gooey and disgusting mess that is quite memorable and has a horrible charm to it. Like a big puppy. If that puppy ate people by squeezing the juices out of them and then lapped them up. And could sprout out the heads of its victims and make them talk, which is a pretty cool ability.

But let's talk about the real draw of the film. Diane Franklin. She's a vision of beauty, dressed up like a Cyndi Lauper imitator with a dash of New Wave girl. She's the embodiment of the 80s teenager in her multicolored hairdo and eyeliner. Its unfortunate that much of the film is without her as she is off with her boyfriend. When she reappears, the film definitely picks up its pace, though that may be just because I'm mesmerized by her.

She was one of my first crushes on a tv star. Mainly because of Better Off Dead, which I watched religiously every time it graced the cathode ray tube of my tv. I recognized her in Amityville 2 and Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure as well, but it was Better Off Dead that kept me coming back for more. It was probably the accent, not to mention that wistful dream I had as a youth of finding that one girl out there who would inspire to me drag race against brothers from Japan and fall in love. There was something so sweet and innocent about her and she had a smile that could light up a room. And she needed rescuing from a nasal spray snorting bad guy. That has to hit all the right spots.

Oddly enough, I did end up dating a girl from a foreign land in high school, so I did have my own little Monique for awhile. Though she was better, as she was real. No doubt my memories of Diane Franklin played a part in that relationship. Of course, I fucked it up. Twice. I was stupid. Live and learn.

I still have my dreams of Monique and the Camaro. But fuck that kid and his two dollars. Cockblocker.

But I digress. Terrorvision is a great little slice of the 1980s that has to be seen to be believed, preferably with some alcohol in the system to lubricate your laughter faculties.

Check it out.

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