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Terrorgram
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by Jack Sommersby

"Return to Sender"
2 stars

A feature-length version of the decent last segment would've been interesting.

The ultra-low-budget horror anthology Terrorgram is certainly better than nadirs of this subgenre by the dubious likes of Joseph Sargent’s Nightmares and Wayne Coe’s Grim Prairie Tales, but despite its initially-interesting story premises it never really gets much in the way of entertainment value out of them. Then again, we have been duly forewarned of the ensuing mediocrity by the idiotic opening-credits narration from James Earl Jones’s The Voice of Retribution, mouthing such brain-dead claptrap as “Within each of us there exists an endless capacity for good and evil.” Mind-shattering, no? The first segment, titled Heroine Overdose, finds a quintessentially sexist B-movie director whose resume consists of Minnesota Microwave Massacre and Psycho Maniacs having the tables turned on him when, after taking a fateful wrong turn on Elm St. in his fancy sports car (an obvious reference to the 1984 Wes Craven classic), finding himself living out his own movie only with the female characters diametrically masculine and powerful. For a wee while, Jerry Anderson, who plays the megalomaniacal Alan Smythee (an obvious play on the pseudonym Alan Smithee), gives the proceedings some much-needed charge (he’s agreeably uninhibited and not afraid of seeing how far he can punctuate a scene), and the intentionally garish lighting is an eyeful. But the material just isn’t there, and its no-big-deal ironic ending isn’t nearly as witty as the moviemakers would like to think. Next is Pandora, which finds an up-and-coming female television news anchor accidentally striking a young child with her car in the middle of the night. She flees the scene so as not to chance endangering her career, but every time she thinks she’s in the clear thereafter the child’s creepy-looking, blood-smeared jack-in-the-box appears out of nowhere, with horrific hallucinations ensuing. Despite some occasionally amusing satiric jabs at the plasticity of broadcast news, it’s bland stuff and inferior to the similar The Hitchhiker segment from Michael Gornick’s so-so Creepshow 2. Finally there’s Veteran’s Day, the best of the lot, which finds a former college preppy meeting quite the poetic justice twenty years after turning into the government the draft-dodging hippie on campus he despised -- the man has been listed as missing-in-action ever since, and his bloodied corpse appears and takes this soulless yuppie back in time to the gruesome Vietnam battlefields to teach him a lesson. Good gore effects and an intense J.T. Wallace in the lead role are real pluses. The debuting Stephen M. Kienzle, who co-wrote, produced and directed, has obvious affinity for horror, but attempt isn’t the same as achievement, with Terrorgram more an array of missed chalk marks than something organically sound. A Dead of Night or Creepshow it most certainly is not.

Not available on DVD, and I don't think many tears are being shed over this.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=28359&reviewer=327
originally posted: 01/09/15 05:37:13
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  01-Jan-1990 (R)

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