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Thursday 20 December 2012

Burl reviews Remote Control! (1987)

Beep boop beep, it’s Burl, here to imitate a giant video store display for the movie Remote Control! This is an odd little picture that came out when I was working at a video store clerk, and since the main character is an heroic video store clerk who saves the world, it held a certain appeal to me! I’m afraid I probably overrated it at the time, sort of the same way I believed movies like Vamp and Three O’ Clock High were better than they actually were! Though that’s not to say they’re bad, ha ha!
Anyway, Remote Control tells the tale of a movie released into video stores (which, in the world of this picture, are the hot places to hang out in the evenings) called Remote Control! It purports to be a science-fiction movie from the 1950s, but I must say that the filmmakers didn’t take a lot of trouble to make their fake 50s movie, as entertaining as it is, very in keeping with the actual style of those pictures! Even Joe Dante couldn’t pull it off perfectly in Matinee, but he came a lot closer than Remote Control does!
But that could be the point, because the movie-within-the-movie turns out to be a fake, crafted by aliens! It makes those who watch it turn maniacal and attack anyone in the vicinity; and the aliens’ ultimate goal is, I guess, a very slow planetary depopulation! Ha ha, it would have taken a lot longer than it turned out the lifespan of VHS would end up being, if you take any meaning from my tortured syntax!
Kevin Dillon, the young man who fought the Blob, is the courageous cassette jockey who discovers this nefarious plot and works to head it off, tangling frequently with an especially murderous pretty-boy who seems to be some sort of alien representative! His allies include his manager/buddy and a comely lady customer who likes Truffaut movies!
At the beginning, the movie seems a spirited effort, replete with pep, and I still really enjoy the video store-centric world in which it operates! But the plot doesn’t really go anywhere, and the alien invasion always seems to be taking place at a discrete and unthreatening distance! They Live was a pretty low budget movie too, but they really made an effort with their alien stuff! Here the aliens are operating strictly by, you guessed it, Remote Control!
There’s a bit of action and a tiny bit of the red stuff, but even though there are plenty of murders, the movie staunchly refuses to turn really zesty! It’s a shame, because it might just possibly have been a tiny quasi-classic had it kept the courage of what initially seem to be its convictions! It looks pretty good and there are some great props in the movie-within-the-movie, but that’s still just window dressing! I’d have liked a little more meat to the alien plot, and a few more third-act twists! Not surprise twists necessarily, just a few pings and pangs in the story’s direction rather than the surprise-free straight line we get! Well, it’s a disappointment, even if an faintly interesting one, and I’m going to give Remote Control one and a half diabolical knitting machines!

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