Invitation to Hell

October 12th, 2009 by Perfesser Deviant

Invitation to Hell   invitationtohellposter1 83x120 sci fi reviews horror Director: Wes Craven
Writer: Richard Rothstein
Release Year: 1984

Satan whines.

Matt Winslow (Robert Urich), his wife Pat (Joanna Cassidy) and their kids Robbie (Barret Oliver) and Chrissy (Soleil Moon Frye) move to a new community for Matt’s new job. Local powerbroker Jessica Jones (Susan Lucci) takes an interest in the newcomers and Matt begins to believe that something’s not quite in this town, something evil. Probably has something to do with the big country club where suited men in trucksters run down women and then melt into Spiting Image puppets. Maybe something to do with that…

Invitation to Hell   invitationtohelltitle 300x225 sci fi reviews horror

(Spoilers follow…)

Invitation to Hell   invitationtohell 1 300x225 sci fi reviews horror

State of the art!

Aside from car accident woman – Jessica Jones – from the beginning, there are many other people in town who don’t seem so wonderful. Lots of suspicious activity and the large number of technology locations made me first believe that this town might be down the road from Stepford, but instead it seems that there are just some bad people. The Petersons, Tom (Joe Regalbuto) and Mary (Patty McCormack), old college friends of the Winslows, seem okay, but lots of other people are just plain sinister. Especially notable is the large number of bad kids in town – Billy (Jason Presson) for example – but perhaps that’s because there’s a grown up Bad Seed in their midst. When no one reacts to some of the kids destroying Robbie’s electronic game, I began to wonder exactly what the hell kind of people everyone were. I suppose that it was normal in the mid-eighties for parents to act as if they’d just stepped out of a KFC commercial, but … oh yeah, this is a made-for-television movie, that’s why everyone was so thrilled with the leathery KFC.

Invitation to Hell   invitationtohell 2 300x225 sci fi reviews horror

How dare you!

The technology company that Matt works for, owned by Mr. Thompson (Kevin McCarthy), is developing a new space suit for a proposed mission to Venus. This marvelous suit is able to survive great temperatures and it has a built-in flame-thrower and ray-gun. Through Matt’s hard work, it’s also able to scan its surroundings to determine if something is human or non-human. Somehow I think that sort of capability would be well beyond the specs required by the government for such a suit. Given the small size of the processor attached to the suit it is particularly comical that, given the large number of magnetic-tape computers shown all over the facility, this suit is able to process so much information. Even more amusing is that the suit read auras … which would mean that Matt has perfected a device that would make parapsychologists cream in their jeans. That it can detect and differentiate terrestrial and non-terrestrial lifeforms is the convenient plot point that made me laugh like a moron; kind of a goofy, oinky laugh, not at all dignified.

Invitation to Hell   invitationtohell 3 300x225 sci fi reviews horror

Women are rarely human.

Matt’s secretary. Grace Henderson (Virginia Vincent), tries to tell him that there’s something rotten in Stepford town, but the boss fires her before she can tell him all the secrets. She doesn’t think to call him, nor does he think to call her. She’s quickly replaced by company woman Miss Winter (Lois Hamilton) who keeps tabs on Matt. Walt Henderson (Bill Erwin), veterinarian husband to Grace, calls Matt to tell him that Pat has brought the family dog to his clinic to be destroyed. This, along with the strange behavior of his family in general, tips Matt off that something’s not right. Perhaps he should have noticed that things aren’t good in a town with such weird-looking people as the Sheriff (Nicholas Worth) and a valet (Michael Berryman), but that’s just me being mean.

Invitation to Hell   invitationtohell 4 300x225 sci fi reviews horror

Welcome to Hell. Cookies are served below.

Like most Stepford towns, this one has an evil rich people club. Unlike the usual evil rich person’s club though, this one contains a gateway to hell. This gateway to hell steals people’s souls and replaces them with antisocial jerkoff souls, though I had no idea that people in 1980s corporate America had souls in the first place. Hell is an interesting place in that it seems to have been filmed in negatives. So basically, Hell is just suburbia done in bad colors aka the 1960s. Apparently, part of the horror of Hell is trapping people in music video laser special effects in places very much like they’d been used to in their everyday lives. I see that preachers have been lying again. Luckily, Matt is able to enter Hell and survive there by wearing the space suit he was working on and, through the power of love – gross – is able to free his wife from bondage – which is different from the love required to put her in bondage in the first place, something which would have made this movie more interesting – can a film ever get more trite than that?

The production values of this film are pretty poor, but not terrible for a made-for-television film. The acting, on the other hand, is really really really really bad. Robert Urich does surprisingly well considering the banality of the script; Joanna Cassidy is Shatner-grade wooden. I must admit though, it was fun to watch Punky Brewster get possessed by some demon. The worst award for acting has to go to Susan Lucci whose performance is so dreadfully bad and melodramatic that there’s no way she’s even suitable for work in soap-operas. She plays a devil – if not the Devil – who turns into a whiny bitch when Matt decides that he’d rather have his family back than burn in Hell for all eternity; it sounds more like she’s petulantly begging a sugar-daddy for a new piece of jewelry.

Wes should be ashamed of himself.

Rating: Invitation to Hell   star sci fi reviews horror Invitation to Hell   blankstar sci fi reviews horror Invitation to Hell   blankstar sci fi reviews horror Invitation to Hell   blankstar sci fi reviews horror Invitation to Hell   blankstar sci fi reviews horror

Bookmark / Share:
  • Invitation to Hell   facebook sci fi reviews horror
  • Invitation to Hell   stumbleupon sci fi reviews horror
  • Invitation to Hell   digg sci fi reviews horror
  • Invitation to Hell   reddit sci fi reviews horror
  • Invitation to Hell   twitter sci fi reviews horror
  • Invitation to Hell   myspace sci fi reviews horror
  • Invitation to Hell   delicious sci fi reviews horror
  • Invitation to Hell   linkedin sci fi reviews horror
  • Invitation to Hell   mixx sci fi reviews horror
  • Invitation to Hell   netvibes sci fi reviews horror
  • Invitation to Hell   tumblr sci fi reviews horror
  • Invitation to Hell   printfriendly sci fi reviews horror