Horror Movie Review: The Video Dead (1987)


Having a bit of a cult following this horror comedy first entered my life as a child (definitely too young to have seen this). Scary then, I’ve not seen it since so coming back to it as an adult (apparently) I wondered if it my memories were clouded by time.

Firstly…how amazing is that VHS cover? I love it. This is a movie of a time-period.

The movie opens showing a TV being delivered to a writer even though he didn’t order it. It’s a freebie so he takes it anyway but discovers that the only thing it shows is an old black & white zombie film called Zombie Blood Nightmare. He unplugs the TV & goes to bed…but the movie starts back up again & the film’s zombies come out of TV & kill him.

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Three months later, Zoe and Jeff are at their parent’s home, they’ve lived abroad for a few years but are moving back now. The pair have arrived before their parents & discover the mysterious TV in the attic. The zombies that were in it are now roaming the woods nearby killing anything that comes their way.

After Jeff has a strange encounter with the TV he meets Joshua, a man who knows all about it & what it can do. He also knows how to deal with the zombies who have started attacking the neighbourhood.

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So let’s look at that aspect of the movie…how to deal with the video dead. One of my favourite things about this movie is the non-traditional zombies. In 1987 the zombie genre hadn’t been smashed into the ground with pointless remakes & over-saturation but we were still living in the age of the video nasty. A glut of low-budget zombie movies had seen the formula grow stale.

The Video Dead bucked the trend (to a point) and I admire its ingenuity especially coming so soon after The Return of the Living Dead, the trend setter for a different take on the zombie.

These zombies, while looking traditional (great makeup) are bound by a different set of rules. This much becomes apparent the first time they step out of a TV! They have more brain function than most & can almost be positioned as sympathetic characters.

They kill humans out of envy, stuck between life & death. Mirrors can be used against them because they are disgusted with their own image, reminding them that they are undead. A human showing fear reminds them that they are repulsive creatures so they attack. That is a pretty damn cool idea.

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Killing them is no easy task either, forget going for the head here. They can be defeated by wounding them enough so that they are convinced they are dead (if getting a chainsaw through the gut would kill us why wouldn’t a zombie think that it would kill them too?).

Oh & should they get trapped in an enclosed space they will go nuts & start to kill each other.

Pretty random, right? A round of applause for some interesting ideas here & it makes for an entertaining movie with plenty of gore & shock moments.

Sounds like the perfect zombie movie, right? Well…it has its problems. Calling itself a horror comedy but it’s just not funny…in the slightest. The jokes are dumb & very obvious (think The Return of the Living Dead 2) with the shoddy acting being the most laughs you’ll get here.

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A zombie trying on a wig or trying to dance isn’t funny but watching Jeff try to say a line without sounding like a petulant teenager is. Watching Joshua explain the zombies with barely a straight face is funny & watching them all die is hilarious.

Yeah, this film doesn’t pull any punches & while the blood has a really watery look it’s still great fun to see it flow. The chainsaw is used to get effect here.

So, The Video Dead…it’s of a time & certainly isn’t scary as an adult but it is entertaining. Visually it’s unimpressive even though it’s got some great make-up & gore. It’s reeks of 80’s horror which is never a bad thing.

The Video Dead
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