Wednesday, October 16, 2019

REMOTE CONTROL (1988) directed by Jeff Lieberman

Happy 72nd birthday to underrated genre helmer Jeff Lieberman who has written and directed a handful of offbeat classics like SQUIRM (1976), BLUE SUNSHINE (1977), JUST BEFORE DAWN (1981), and 2004's weird and wonderful SATAN'S LITTLE HELPER, which was discussed at length in the first episode of the late CINESLUDGE podcast (RIP). With today being a VHS Wednesday it seemed like a good opportunity to dig up this review of 1988's REMOTE CONTROL starring a pre-ENTOURAGE Kevin Dillon as a video store clerk. A slightly different version of this review appeared in Exploitation Retrospect #18 from September 1988.

Long before he was a critical darling on ENTOURAGE Kevin Dillon starred in this cable/videotape classic from Jeff Lieberman.

The story, such that it is, concerns a videotape from outer space that takes over people's minds and turns the viewers into homicidal maniacs. When two video store workers are accused of one of the murders they begin to unravel the mystery and take on the evil aliens bent on man's destruction.

Dillon plays "Cosmo", a video store clerk so-nicknamed because of his affinity for sci-fi flicks. Along the way he broods, smokes, wears a leather jacket and metal shinguards, and I'm pretty sure he sports an earring as well. In other words, he acts like he does in every single film he's been in. You have to admire someone who is so sure of their own ability that they refuse to alter their basic portrayal in any way!

Film starts out with a good weirdo-Yuppie S&M demise, and manages to throw a few fun-filled deaths into the proceedings (however, a fight at the videotape factory is beyond dull). Lieberman's not-so-subtle use of 50's kitsch set design and clothing reminiscent of old sci-fi flicks is cute at first, but ends up getting on your nerves after a while. The female lead is played by the lovely Deborah Goodrich (APRIL FOOL'S DAY, SURVIVAL GAME), a woman who could get on my nerves, or any part of my body whenever she wants!

To their credit, the filmmakers give the flick a fairly winning sense of humor and the proceedings aren't taken very seriously. In other words, REMOTE CONTROL is better than it has any right to be. Thumbs up for an entertaining premise, some good humor, and the welcome chance to look at Deborah Goodrich in tight costumes. – Dan Taylor

After a long time out of print, director Jeff Lieberman released a 25th anniversary Blu-Ray back in 2013. It appears to still be available from his website in both DVD and Blu-Ray formats.

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