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For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020


EDITOR’S NOTE: This compilation film of bits and pieces of horror staples (with emphasis on Universal pictures, since this was a Universal release) was released o VHS I’m 1985, in 2012 on DVD and had its Blu-ray debut as a special feature on the 2011 ‘Halloween II' Blu-ray release. Now the Shout! Factory has released the film as a standalone Blu-ray, with new bonus features, including the extended alternate TV version. That’s a lot of hoopla for a not-much horror version of ‘That’s Entertainment!’ But fans … whatcha gonna do? My review was published in the Deseret News on Oct. 29, 1984.


“Terror in the Aisles” wants to be the “That’s Entertainment” of horror movies but it’s so sloppily conceived and haphazardly directed that it’s more like a pastiche of poorly made previews.


My most frequent complaint about movies like this is that many of the film clips are unidentified. In “Terror in the Aisles,” however, none are titled for us.


Some are obvious, of course, like “Carrie,” “Halloween,” “Psycho,” “The Birds,” “The Omen,” “The Shining,” etc. But others, like “Sisters,” “Bug,” “Alone in the Dark,” “The Silent Partner,” are going to leave the audience puzzled.




Donald Pleasence surprises 'Halloween' fans in 'Terror in the Aisles' (1984).


The only possible use for a movie like “Terror in the Aisles” is to wait until it comes on cassette, invite a bunch of film buffs over and play a sort of video Trivial Pursuit or a horror version of “Name That Tune.”


As a film, however, boredom sets in early, along with frustration. There is no continuity, no thesis to fulfill, no central theme adhered to and no fun — which is the idea of compilation films in the first place.


Donald Pleasence, who starred in the first two “Halloween” films, and Nancy Allen of “Carrie” and “Dressed to Kill,” are the hosts, sitting in a movie theater commenting as patrons around them cringe and act afraid. The dialogue they are required to speak is so much drivel, made up of pop psychology and nonsensical phrases.


There are a few clip groupings that form a certain kind of logic, such as three telekinetic characters (from “Carrie,” “The Fury” and “Scanners”) causing mayhem in intercut scenes, and three cop thrillers (“Marathon Man,” “Nighthawks” and “Vice Squad”), supposedly representing cool killers.


But when a class act like “Klute” is combined with sleazo exploitation like “Ms. 45,” it’s just adding insult to injury.




What made “That’s Entertainment” unique was its ability to show dozens of clips from favored musicals with thematic ties, so that instead of just making us frustrated with brief clips, we saw whole set-pieces that added up to marvelous movie fun.


Here we just get brief, seconds-long clips and often the audience won’t even know what the movies are.


If you’re going to use clips from the classics, like “Bride of Frankenstein,” how about some historical perspective, some comical juxtaposition or something?


Even the comedy movies are badly used. Lou Costello in “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein,” gets off one joke —  but the rest are passed over so quickly they might as well not even be there.


Rated R for the gore from individual films, as well as some sex, nudity and profanity, “Terror in the Aisles” is one of the worst compilation films ever. Even “It Came from Hollywood” is better.