Saturday, August 27, 2011


Invitation to Hell
Directed by Wes Craven
Starring Robert Urich, Joanna Cassidy, and Susan Lucci

Robert Urich and his family move to a new housing community where TV-appropriate weirdness starts happening. The neighbors act suspiciously, his secretary tries to warn him about things, and it seems like everyone wants them to join a shady country club called Steaming Piles Springs.

Oh, and did I mention that the country club’s logo looks like three turds sitting on a plate?

Robert's family joins without him, and they complete an initiation that involves walking into a sauna (whilst fully clothed) and pledging their undying loyalty to the country club. At this point, I realized the movie was a hard-hitting exposé of Scientology.

From then on, Robert's family starts acting just as strangely as their neighbors. His wife starts using kitchen knives, his son plays his video games or something, and the daughter… I don’t remember. None of it really seemed all that suspicious to me. That is, until the attempted dog murder, which is a pretty horrendous thing to do.

Robert realizes that his only recourse would be to go to the evil country club and sneak into the sauna. Thankfully, he steals a spacesuit from his work. It can withstand extremely high temperatures, it can shoot lasers, and it can sense whether something is human or not. And where does Robert work, you may ask. Answer: Office Max.

He uses his spacesuit to infiltrate the magic sauna, which looks like this on the inside:

Yes, inside the sauna is a matte painting. But that’s not all. See that cliff that defies the laws of physics? He jumps off it and lands in a magic purple world where his family (or at least the good parts of their personalities) are trapped. Robert has to struggle through the psychedelia and save the day.

Does he? You’ll have to watch to find out. Actually, please don’t.

"Now it's time to sleep with the angels, my little pookie."

"Made you jump, Mr. Winslow."

"The club is a special place. Very special."

"Do you forsake all for the club?"

"I'm just making love to you, honey. That’s all. I’m just making love to you."

"You’ve been a bad bunny. I've got to punish you."

So why is this film of interest to gay audiences? One reason: Susan Lucci.

Actually, two reasons: Susan Lucci and her many hairstyles.

During the climactic Halloween party (Did I mention there was a climactic Halloween party?) she comes dressed as the scariest thing she could think of: Susan Lucci.

With weird cheekbone glitter.

For a movie revolving around an evil sauna, there is so little nudity it’s almost a crime.

This is a TV movie, so we get very little of anything. A bunch of stuff happens off-screen (car accidents and whatnot), and a few people get shot by lasers. Basically, this is the kind of film that wrings scares out of wacky neighbors putting on gorilla masks and leaning against windows.

A screen capture from Saw IV.

That said, the movie opens with Susan Lucci getting run over, jumping back up, and melting the driver with her magic finger. If ever there were an opening scene tailor made for my sensibilities, it would be that.

Um, I honestly didn’t understand the ending. So his family was trapped in the magic sauna, but their evil personality traits were walking around in the real world? Or were those people just impostors? And what happened to everyone else who was abducted by the sauna? I’m sure some, if not all, of these questions were answered somewhere in the film, but I was under whelmed by everything after that kick-ass teaser that I guess things flew past me.

How do we know Susan Lucci can’t be trusted? Because the space suit labeled her "Non-human Malignant."

So this is the game that the little boy (the kid from D.A.R.Y.L.) was obsessed with through most of the film:

Ladies and gentleman, this is Astro Bomber. Personally, I think that this might have too much math to make for an interesting game. It’s like playing Calculus Blasters 101.

Well, there are no gay characters and very little bromance (even though I hate hate hate that word).

And like I said, there is absolutely no nudity worth mentioning…

But then again, Susan Lucci…

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