Crazy Sci-Fi Double Feature: Dollman (1991) & TerrorVision (1986)

Technically I didn’t watch Dollman and TerrorVision on the same day, but I still think it would make an excellent double feature. Both movies start off on other planets with important characters winding up on Earth, which technically makes them both alien movies. While Dollman sticks more the action genre though, TerrorVision decides to mix all kinds of stories, genres and moods, but was still a surprisingly entertaining and supremely weird movie.

Dollman is actually Brick Bardo, something of a hero on his planet which looks kind of like Mega City in the RoboCop movies (read: shitty and poor, but surprisingly filled with fat people). He’s a sort of Dirty Harry type, the guy they call in for the crappy gigs. Anyway, after an opening scene that doesn’t really matter much, he winds up in a stand-off with his enemy who takes off in a spaceship. Bardo follows and the two wind up on Earth where it turns out they’re about a foot tall. It’s a pretty cool concept and one that’s not hinted at by any means in the early scenes which makes it kind of a surprise if you had no idea what you were watching. Anyway, Bardo winds up being taken home by a woman trying to keep her block safe for her son while the bad guy winds up convincing Jackie Earle Haley that he can rule the world. Or something. Anyway, it winds up being a face off between Dollman and the bad guys for the safety of the woman and the block.

At a brisk 79 minutes on Netflix Instant, I’d have trouble not recommending this movie to my fellow bad movie fans. The actors all take their jobs seriously, which adds to the flick a lot. Unfortunately the execution of some of the small scenes isn’t so good. When Dollman first lands on Earth he’s standing in front of some rocks that look pretty big to him, but then when the perspective changes and we see normal sized people they look the same size. They make good use of some projected effects and I love how the woman’s kid thinks Bardo’s spaceship is a toy. It really does look like the kind of vehicle you’d dream of for your action figures. On the other hand, I thought the special effects used to make the alien bad guy look like a totally creepy monster were pretty solid. The real joy for me in this movie was watching Haley and Tim Thomerson as Dollman. Haley of course has gone on to be both Rorschach and Freddy Krueger, but Thomerson was in one of my all time favorite movies as a kid: Who’s Harry Crumb? which I just watched with my folks and the missus when we were in Ohio a few weeks back. He’s a villain in that movie, so it’s fun to see him playing a hero here.

I don’t think I could describe TerrorVision as a good movie, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a good time watching it. Unlike Dollman, no one involved in this flick seemed to take it seriously. The dialogue is crazy, the characters are all extreme versions of normal people (the completely 80s daughter, her metal boyfriend, the swinger parents, the paranoid grandpa) and the tone switches around like crazy, going from camp to violent death scenes to an ET-like section and on from there. I’m guessing this was the intent from the beginning because the writer Ted Nicolaou also directed.

The idea is that another planet gets rid of their criminals by sending them out into space. I think it’s supposed to kill them, but this giant, shape shifting thing with one giant eye, one on a stalk and a tinier one winds up getting received by the swinger dad’s brand new satellite dish (it struck me during the watching of this movie that a great deal of things would have to be explained to a kid watching the movie today). The parents head out to meet a couple from a personal ad leaving the main boy home with the crazy grandpa whose room is a bomb shelter essentially. The pair realize the alien can pop out of the TV and is coming after them. SPOILERS AHEAD. Then, out of freaking nowhere, Grandpa gets his head crushed and disintegrated so the monster can absorb him. Once absorbed, the monster can recreate that person visually and sonically. It’s nuts.

More people keep showing up for the monster to kill. Next up is the parents who want to swing with this other couple in what the dad keeps calling the pleasuredome. This reminds me, the house itself looks like a cartoon (which fits the one dimensional characters and the soundtrack to a tee) with lots of pink and some strangely sexual artwork in the living room, my favorite of which was an iron with boobs sticking out of it. So strange. Anyway, the mom yells at the kid who apparently is on meds for talking about monsters–he’s also gotten in trouble in the past for prank phone calls–both of which are supremely unfortunate considering his current status. Mom’s pissed and wants to score with the Greek guy they just brought back so she locks him in grandpa’s room where the monster is hanging out! But it seems the monster is back in the TV.

Goodness, I really could go on and on about the movie, but you might as well just watch the 83 minutes of weirdness on Netflix, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Okay, I’ve got to mention a few more favorite parts. The kid thinks his parents and grandpa are dead, but his sister (who was out and just came back) doesn’t believe him, so she opens the door to their bedroom to see alien-created mom and dad in bed with the two swingers AND GRANDPA! It gave me chills, the sister said it was gross and they moved on, assuming their parents were alive, swinging and incesting all night long in their room. After THAT, the sister, metal boyfriend and the boy wind up treating the monster like a pet and making friends with it. Now, that might seem strange considering it killed their family members, but the kids don’t know that at the time.

If you’re a fan of 80s horror or monster flicks where kids take center stage like The Gate or Troll 2, then I highly recommend this movie. It’s as silly as the supposed Best Worst Movie, but the monster/alien effects and kills are surprisingly violent and cool. I really can’t recommend this flick enough, even moreso after watching the last few minutes again for this post. It’s even got a great poppy theme song! Do yourself a favor and watch TerrorVision, it’s one of the most enjoyable bad movies I’ve seen in quite a long time.

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