The Video Dead (1987)

The Video Dead was a direct-to-video release about a haunted television that has the power to unleash zombies into the world. Said television accidentally gets delivered to an author’s house instead of an institute for the occult, and zombies climb out in the middle of the night. A corporation buys the house for a family, but the television remains. When the teenage children move in early, they discover the television…and as a result, they soon discover its secret. Between the haunted TV and the zombies that have escaped it and are now roaming the woods, the teens are soon stuck in a dire situation in which no one will escape unbroken.

Yep, it’s a zombie movie, but certainly a unique one in its approach to the walking dead. First, they’re shamblers, but they’re intelligent and have the rudimentary ability to use tools and stalk prey. More importantly though, they cannot be killed through normal means. Destroying the brain does nothing, decapitation does not stop them, and dismemberment only means there are more pieces moving around. Instead they can only be tricked into thinking they have died, or they can be scared off by seeing their reflections and discovering the things they have become, and they do not attack people who are unafraid of them. They know they are dead but do not want to believe it, so they hate the living and anything that reminds them of their deaths. In the end, the only thing to do is lock them in a room from which they cannot escape, because this will make the television recall them and the zombie movie that it shows will end. These guys are complicated and weird, but man, they’re a nasty-looking bunch.

I gotta give the film credit for being creative, even if it is weird. The television’s power is never explained, nor is the man trapped inside who seems to know what is going on. Really we don’t know if it’s the TV or the movie it shows that is really the culprit. Also, despite the likable characters, this is one of those movies where people just don’t make it. Don’t get attached to anyone, because everyone is doomed, some in some nasty ways. Evil Dead 2 had a headless undead with a chainsaw. Can you guess what The Video Dead manages to copy to bloody effect?

Hey, if you like low-budget zombie films but want something beyond the norm, see if you can track this one down. It’s worth it for genre fans just for its weirdness. Scream Factory released it as part of a two-pack special edition DVD or Blu-Ray along with TerrorVision a couple of years ago.

By the way, the movie-within-a-movie is entitled Zombie Blood Nightmare, which is the name of the first track on thrash metal band Gama Bomb’s Citizen Brain album. Awesome! Whatever it takes to get more people to talk about metal.

I suppose there is something here to say about TV turning us all into zombies, but nah, I’m gonna let it slide.

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