The Video Dead (1987)

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Overall Rating 55%
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A supernatural TV is mistakenly delivered to a suburban family instead of a research lab. After the family mysteriously turn up dead, a new family moves in and finds the TV hidden in the basement. Soon they discover the TV is actually a gateway for the undead. --TMDb
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Review by Chad
Added: April 12, 2007
Being a horror fan during the eighties was sort of like being Rosie O'Donnel at an all-you-can-eat buffet: there were so many video options lining store shelves that it was hard not to gorge oneself on all of those great offerings. You want movies about mass-murdering rednecks? Sure, we've got a whole shelf of those right over here. Nunsploitation? Right over there next to the zombie aisle. For all that has been said about the glut of direct-to-video horror releases in today's market, nothing can even compare to the absolute flood of releases that occurred throughout the eighties. On the one hand, it was a great time to be a horror fan: walking into your local video store on Friday night, you were guaranteed to see at least a dozen new releases with flashy covers that looked to deserve a rental. Of course, there was also a lot of absolute garbage that was rushed out in order to make a quick buck, but in terms of the sheer amount of weekly releases, well... let's just say that while other kids were buying Ninja Turtle action figures and pogs, I was always handing my allowance to the poofy-haired young lady at Video Den and I still never managed to rent even half of the horror titles that they carried. Which side does The Video Dead reside on? Well, let's see...

At a glance, The Video Dead is just another eighties zombie flick, but to come right out and call it that would be akin to referring to Halloween as just another serial killer flick. Is it true? Well, technically, yes; but there's so much more to it than that. For starters, these zombies aren't produced by military chemicals, alien viruses, voodoo rituals, or anything else of that nature. These particular zombies come out of a cursed television set that only picks up two channels: one that features a twenty-four hour marathon of a film called "Zombie Blood Nightmare" and another which features a manly-looking woman who will try to seduce the male audience. When someone happens to watch the zombie channel for too long, the zombies can simply walk right through the television and feast on the poor slob who just wanted a horror fix.

This event occurs to open the movie, and three months later, a pair of kids have moved into the house (their parents are off in Saudi Arabia having fun). What do they happen to stumble upon sitting up in the attic? Why, it's a brand new television! It doesn't take long before they find out what's going on, but just to further complicate matters, a handful of the shambling dead had already escaped when the previous resident watched the TV, so now it's up to little Zoe (Roxanna Augesen) and Jeff Blair (Rocky Duvall) to save the day.

Attempting to even narrow this movie down to a specific genre proves to be difficult: it has plenty of the obvious horror elements, but it never once even attempts to scare the audience and there's not enough gore to classify it as a splatter flick. There's plenty of humorous moments and silly situations, but you can't really label it as a horror comedy either thanks to the fact that so much of the humor is unintentional. Bizarre would probably be the best word for it, but sadly enough, that's not a specific genre. However, I will say that I enjoyed the hell out of this "bizarre" little movie.

Where else can you watch a blood-soaked murder in one scene, and then watch as a little old lady is shoved head-first into a washing machine by a bride zombie... who then turns the washer on, causing the old lady's protruding legs to spin around in wild circles? How many other zombie movies prove that a mirror is a better weapon than a shotgun and that the only way to kill one of these monsters is to simply convince it that it's not alive? Can you name one other storyline where you can avoid dismemberment just by pretending to not be afraid of the undead? The Video Dead will provide you with all of this and plenty more, and although it does go overboard in spots, you just can't help but love this sort of thing if you're at all a fan of zombies and eighties horror.

Flaws? Yeah, there's a few. For starters, the acting is bad. Scratch that - the acting is atrocious with the lone exception of the grumpy Texan garbageman who shows up late into the movie. How bad is the acting? Well, let's just say this: everyone who appeared on screen for more than five minutes never got another job in the movie business again. Keep in mind that I'm not saying that they were reduced to minor roles or crappy TV shows: each and every last one of their careers was killed stone-dead after this release. This leads to a couple of scenes that drag on for far too long courtesy of the wooden acting, but c'mon: watching eighties horror for the acting is like handing Rosie the salad menu at that buffet.

All flaws aside, The Video Dead is still worth a viewing. You'll need to brush off your VCR or purchase a bootleg DVD to watch it as it's never received an official DVD release (for shame!), but either way, it's worth the effort. 8/10.
bluemeanie #1: bluemeanie - added April 12, 2007 at 11:56am
Wow. I had forgotten all about this film for so many years. I remember renting this one night as a kid and watching it and absolutely loving it. I think I've seen it a couple more times over the years at various places, but I'd forgotten all about it. A classic 1980's zombie flick, right up there with "Night of the Creeps" and "Night of the Comet". Love it. 9/10.
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