Friday, October 30, 2020

Cathode Ray Mission 30 - Invitation to Hell

Invitation to Hell
Wes Craven

All I can say is wow. I had vague memories of catching this movie as a kid and not understanding it very well. It turns out that was completely justified because this made for TV movie is entirely bananas. Robert Ulrich stars as a man who has moved his family to a new city after landing a job with a large tech firm. Everyone important in his neighborhood belongs to a health club called, ‘Steaming Springs’ (it’s ok to giggle, I sure did.) Invitation to Hell lets you know something is up within seconds as the owner of Steaming Springs (Susan Lucci just destroying everything with overacting) flash fries a chauffeur with her mind just before the opening credits.

What appears to be a typical 'Satan corrupts a family story' goes wild in the third act. There are people casually dressed as Nazis at a costume party. Robert Ulrich dons a weaponized spacesuit in order to dive into hell to rescue his family. There are explosion, fire, and plenty of TV-quality special effects. What starts as a slightly ho-hum TV movie transforms into a wild ride that would probably be heralded as a bigger cult classic had it ever found its way into a movie theater.

This was a delight that a) solved a childhood mystery of what weird-ass show I saw and b) reintroduced me to such a strange little gem.

Watch Invitation to Hell, it is worth your time.

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