|My sealed VHS copy|
Directed by: Jeff Lieberman
Much like most of these types of films, or just most old horror films I've seen lately, this was another one I've come across countless times at my local video store, but never took the time to actually watch it for one reason or another. If you've never seen this either, I'm sure you have seen this cover though. How can you forget it?
Some movie friends of mine brought this up recently, and both stated how much they loved it, in a very 80's cheesy, fun/bad sorta way. So as you can imagine, I was sold. Found a sealed VHS on eBay really cheap and did some online digging, only to discover that this was from the same guy who did the horrendous Satan's Little Helper, a film that was so bad, so infuriating that we struggled to finish it. And SLH was a film that writer/director Jeff Lieberman made many years after Remote Control, so you can imagine my apprehension. My excitement had downgraded tremendously, but I gave it a shot anyway, thinking that it's 80's setting would hopefully add a little something to the nostalgia factor. I was right, and boy did it ever.
Remote Control was a blast from start to finish. Much like Death Spa, it's almost an insane characature of that specific decade. Everything about 1986 is so overdone in this, and it's hard to tell whether it was intentional or if that was where things were headed in that year. I have to think it was over-the-top on purpose, because I grew up in the 80's and I don't remember it being this insane or ridiculous. Regardless, it's a helluva fun time in the 80's cheese department and you won't be sorry by giving this one a chance.
A videocassette, when watched, turns people into killers. When the truth is revealed as to where these tapes come from and what the real intention is, it's a lot worse than anybody could have imagined.
Though it was released in 1986, this film has a considerably larger budget, look and feel than a lot of writer/director Jeff Lieberman's later films. I think also it's mid 1980's setting really helped. Things could just look outrageous and they could get away with it back then. Add to that Lieberman's better-than-I-was-expecting direction and Remote Control looks like a big budget horror film that could easily have played at your local cinema back in the day.
One of the things that really makes this so great is the fact that large portions of this takes place in several video stores. If you're a collector like I am, then you'll probably be paying more attention to the tapes sitting on the shelves in the background and all the sweet posters and counter displays. For example, look at this shot above. You can clearly see a video store standee of the Burt Reynolds flick Stick sitting on top of a shelf in the background. It's things like that that make this film so fun to watch. But it's also the simple idea of a VHS tape being the source of all this evil. It's so ridiculous but also very nostalgic to see an entire horror film revolve around a dead format.
So much of this film works on an absurd level that it's easy to forgive it for it's many, many shortcomings. In fact, it's the film's faults that really give it some of it's character. We laughed and yelled "what the?" so many times that it's almost impossible not to enjoy yourself. I'm not aware of this ever having a major release outside of VHS, at least not here in the U.S., which is a shame because if there ever was a cult horror film that could use a knockout new DVD or Blu Ray release, it's this one. Until that day comes, see if you can find it streaming somewhere, or better yet, track down a VHS.
It's been brought to my attention several times from readers - sometimes nicely, sometimes not so nicely - that this film has in fact been released on Blu Ray and DVD by the films writer/director Jeff Lieberman on his own website. For those of you who feel I misled you or feel that the information I was giving was wrong, I apologize. I simply gave the information I had at the time, having just barely seen the film for the very first time, and finding no information readily available online for any such release. But it seems that there is in fact a DVD you can purchase from the director himself. Sadly, the Blu Ray is Out of Print. Here are the details:
Fully-Remastered All-Region DVD & Blu-ray
- New 2K HD transfer
- All-new commentary with writer-director
- Publicity Still Gallery
1.85:1 widescreen / English 2.0 / 88 minutes
Brand-new and factory-pressed.
You can order your copy directly from the director HERE.