HORRORTHON '10: The Video Dead (Robert Scott, 1987)

Television can be our portal to the outside world, but what if it becomes the outside world's portal to us? And what if that outside world is crawling with the living dead? Siblings Jeff and Zoe find out exactly "what if" when they discover a strange television in the attic of the neighborhood "death house" (referred to as such due to its previous tenant having gruesomely died there).

Though lesser known, lower budget '80s fare tends to be a few rungs below the same from the '50s-'70s, The Video Dead borrows mentalities from predecessors like Al Adamson, Herschell Gordon-Lewis and, in particular, Ted V. Mikels. The cinematography is in no danger of being labeled "extraordinary", but the sense for sexiness and scariness is highly reminiscent of Mikels' 1968 The Astro-Zombies. And while the main appeal is the so-bad-it's-good factor, The Video Dead actually is intermittently sexy and scary, and some of its (intentional) gags do indeed inspire a chuckle!

If anything, the detractor here is a scant crew of expendables. Primarily we follow the geeky, insecure Jeff even though the ripe, bubbly Zoe appears better-suited for the lead, and rarely do we deviate to check out any neighbors' grisly misfortunes. A character named "The Garbage Man" (who, by his own words, disposes of human garbage) makes up for some of this lost ground by mentoring Jeff and dispatching rat-infested zombies with a chainsaw, bringing somewhat of a Rowsdower-from-The-Final-Sacrifice feel to the proceedings.

The Video Dead isn't quite Troll 2... and for fans of that notoriously so-dreadful-it's-amazing flick, it doesn't come anywhere close... but for what it's worth, I preferred the haunted television to the goblin feast. At the very least it will satiate your run-of-the-mill horror makeup/gore fiends.

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