The Puttermans are just your average well-to-do Californian family, and father Stan (Gerrit Graham) has spent the last few hours trying to get the new satellite dish set up so they can have more channels on their television than ever before, but he's not having much success. He has asked the handyman who works with such equipment to help, but Norton (Sonny Carl Davis) protests he can only repair these things, actually setting them up isn't part of his job remit. Meanwhile the mother Raquel (Mary Woronov) is growing frustrated her aerobics workout show has vanished from the screen, but just as it looks as if Stan has utterly failed to get the dish operational, a bolt of lightning strikes it and that fixes it. It also fixes them...
TerrorVision was one of those medum-low budget efforts from Charles Band's Empire stable which spread like a rash over selected cinema screens in the ninteteen-eighties, but were more likely to be seen in the planet's video rental stores where they represented one of those chances at entertainment should all the better known titles be taken out, or for the more hardcore (so to speak) renter, if you'd watched practically everything else and these were your last resort. Against the odds, some of those cheap and cheerful horrors and sci-fis would genuinely provide amusement, not that there were any widely acknowledged classics, but of this sort of material are cult flicks made, and so it was here.
It could have been down to the cast, a group of actors who enjoyed varying levels of recognition, though the biggest star wattage was likely shared by Graham, Woronov and the actress playing their punkette daughter Suzy. She was Diane Franklin, and amassed a following in a bunch of comedies and horrors from the eighties, making her most identifiable with that decade and therefore subject to a wealth of nostalgia for movie fans of a certain vintage. In this case, you probably got her best comedic performance: though she had been in the hilarious Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure three years after this, she was mostly there as eye candy, but in TerrorVision she displayed a reliable talent for goofy humour, so much so you'd wish she'd done more.
More at the time she was a "name" actress, at any rate, for into the nineties she gave up the screen for her family, making slight returns in minor roles thereafter, some directed by her daughter Olivia DeLaurentis. Back in '86, Suzy was probably the least deliberately obnoxious character along with her little brother Sherman (Chad Allen), though that was not saying too much as writer and director Ted Nicolaou was dead set on spoofing the types he'd seen around Los Angeles and felt that seeing as how the rest of the country, nay, the world, were happy to send up those folks, he would really got to town on them. Therefore a selection were represented: Stan and Raquel were more interested in their swinger's lifestyle than their kids (check out their gloriously tacky decor), grandpa (Bert Remsen) is an addled survivalist, and Suzy cares only about MTV.
Oh, and her rocker boyfriend O.D. played by Jon Gries in a gem of a performance; actually, everyone here was very aware of what they had been asked to portray and for a dumb sci-fi horror comedy it was surprisingly well-acted, even if Franklin was the one you tended to watch when she was in the scene. The "terror" part enters into proceedings when a couple of space monsters (designed by John Carl Buechler, natch) are beamed from outer space to the dish, then into the house where he begins consuming the cast just as their characters selfishly consume pop culture and food. There was a broadly satirical nature informing the storyline, cramming in Elvira-style horror hostess Medusa (Jennifer Richards), the inexplicable inclusion of Alejandro Rey as a swinger (this was shot in Italy, so he may have been in the neighbourhood), and an attitude to television that made The Twonky look like a fan letter. Not so much anti-technology as it was anti-stupidity, TerrorVision was exuberant and wacky, both a product of its time and snarky comment on it. Music by Richard Band (dig the theme).