Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Everyone has a moment in childhood when adults simply refuse to believe something they know is true. The character of the boy whom nobody will listen to is a classic of the science fiction and horror genres, and young Chad Allen is perfectly cast here as Sherman Putterman, desperate to warn a family whose routine reaction to him getting out of line is to knock him out with pills. To make matters worse for him, what he has to tell them isn't exactly easy to believe - that a terrifying monster has emerged from the television set and eaten his grandpa.

Where did this monster come from? The planet Pluton, where it was beamed away as waste and accidentally directed to Earth, finding its way into the Puttermans' new satellite dish. The Plutonians are terribly sorry and are urgently trying to warn Earthlings through TV broadcasts, but nobody is paying attention, preferring to watch ample-bosomed Elvira clone Medusa and an endless series of monster films. Just how poorly this has equipped them for fighting real monsters quickly becomes apparent, but there's more to this film than just a series of gruesome snacking incidents. Like the classic monsters of the Forties, this is a beast with a poignant backstory and no small capacity for affection, a creature who ultimately just wants to be loved. Until it gets hungry.

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In the mid-Eighties, when E.T. had a generation of kids longing for cute alien pets, there was plenty of appetite for Terrorvision. Although gory in places and full of sexual references it doesn't really contain anything inappropriate for older kids, who will find it a welcome antidote to that kind of saccharine simplicity. What really makes it work as a film is that, whilst very, very cheap, it goes beyond standard spoof territory and fleshes out its characters into people the viewer can care about. Bert Remsen is great as Sherman's unhinged survivalist grandfather, living off lizard tails and packing a basement full of guns. Then there are the utterly self-centered, exquisitely badly dressed swinging parents; the even tackier couple they bring home; the lecherous satellite-installation guy; and Sherman's hyper-Eighties sister and her metalhead boyfriend OD. Every one of the actors seems to be having enormous fun, their comic timing is great, there are some nicely judged lines and the film even manages to throw in a couple of unexpected twists.

Set almost entirely within one luridly decorated house, Terrorvision is a great example of how to make a fun film for peanuts. It drags a little in the middle but in general sustains its energy surprisingly well. If you're a fan of trash cinema, you'll love this.

Reviewed on: 06 Dec 2009
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Terrorvision packshot
A monster beamed away as unwanted waste from an alien planet finds its way into a suburban American home through a satellite dish.
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Director: Ted Nicolaou

Writer: Ted Nicolaou

Starring: Chad Allen, Diane Franklin, Mary Woronov, Gerrit Graham, Jon Gries, Bert Remsen, Jennifer Richards

Year: 1986

Runtime: 83 minutes

Country: US


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