FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Jun 17, 2022

Invitation to HELL YES

Approximately one minute into Invitation to Hell, I knew that the almighty Charles Nelson Reilly had beamed the movie down from Heaven above expressly for me.

Well, no matter. The fact remains that as Invitation to Hell lies on its little bed made of hay or whatever, I will forever dump frankincense and myrrh at its feet! This movie came out in 1984 and yet somehow I have only just seen it for the first time...? Yes, 1984 was almost 25 years (!!) before I was born, but still, we have coexisted for quite some time now. Where have I been? What have I been doing? What took me so long?

You know what, I am not going to get all wrapped up in regrets and wasted years. We are together now, this masterpiece and I, and nothing will ever keep us from one another. Nothing!

So what happened in the first minute of Invitation to Hell that had me RSVPeeing in my pants with a big fat resounding YES? Witness:

In keeping with Final Girl's longstanding tradition of using only 100% cutting edge technology to bring you images, I recorded that off of my TV with my phone.

I'm sure you watched that and said "I can't believe my eyes! Was that Susan Lucci of television's All My Children dressed like she's Thing 3 from some Dr. Seuss shit standing up in a weird way and killing a man with the power of her finger gun?" It was, dear reader. It was. Now you get what I have been saying!



feel the power

I know I had you at "Susan Lucci" but honey, the hits do not stop there! This is perhaps the one movie in the history of ever that truly has it all. Just a wee little bit of that all includes:

-- a family composed of Robert Urich ( of television's Spenser for Hire and television's Vega$, a show with a dollar sign in the title, those really were the days), Joanna Cassidy (she was in Blade Runner AND this AND she flew a hot air balloon over Mars in Ghosts of Mars, sorry but that is a career any of us should be willing to die for), Soleil Moon Frye of television's Punky Brewster, and Barret "Bastian from The Neverending Story" Oliver 

-- another family partially composed of that guy from Murphy Brown and The Bad Seed herself, Patty McCormack

-- cinematography by Dean Cundey and directing by Wes Craven (???!!!)

-- Kevin McCarthy! I love him so much

-- a town with a secret that isn't really that much of a secret

-- an evil country club (redundant I know)

-- a company called Micro-DigiTech 

-- a fistfight rendered more exciting thanks to the time-honored inclusion of nearby stacks of empty cardboard boxes for people to crash into

-- lasers

-- Hell (not really a spoiler as it's right there in the title)

-- this shit is MADE FOR TV

Now you get what I have been saying even more!

After several years of hard times and struggle while working on "projects" with "computers," Matt Winslow (Urich) has been hired by a "company" to be in charge of "special projects." The entire Winslow clan is pretty pumped about their move to the 'burbs of a burgeoning Silicon Valley. 

The local country club, Steaming Springs, is like the coolest hot shit place in town to join, and it's headed up by Jennifer Jones (Lucci). Having seen the first minute of this film, we know that Jennifer Jones has some kind of inhuman abilities and an impeccable sense of style; therefore, we can safely assume that there is something both nefarious and glamorous afoot at Steaming Springs.

We sort of get a hint about it all when that guy from Murphy Brown and Patty McCormack and their kids take part in the Steaming Springs (side note: I don't like that word "steaming") initiation ceremony, which involves bathrobes, pledging that you will forsake all others for The Club, and Jennifer Jones rocking some hair that's so big it stretches the laws of physics to their breaking point.

Honestly I would join too, if only for that robe. Finally, some satanists (I think? it's never made completely clear and you know what, I don't care) who understand that evil and comfort need not be mutually exclusive.

Anyway, they enter the steamy sanctum (not a euphemism) and the next thing you know, that guy from Murphy Brown gets a sweet promotion and Patty McCormack has a sweet new car. Matt's wife Pat (Cassidy) (yes, they are Matt and Pat) (yes, this movie rules so hard) really wants in on all the sweet club stuff. Didn't the family suffer enough during those hard times and struggles? Wouldn't some new furniture be great? What, is Matt a coward? Is that why he doesn't want to join? He's a little coward baby?

No, Matt is not a little coward baby. He is just a man who is content with furnishings that are only okay, his family, and his job designing a spacesuit meant to withstand the heat of Venus. This spacesuit comes complete with a built-in flamethrower, a built-in laser gun, and, conveniently, an interface that can detect whether or not a life form is 1) human and 2) friendly. Jessica Jones passes in front of this interface and SURPRISE, the results are not at all surprising!

Despite all the pleading from his friends and family and coworkers to just submit and join the club, Matt remains resolutely against it, so Pat and the kids join without him. After the steaming, there are noticeable changes to them all. For starters, Pat's hair size increases exponentially, as does her horniness and her murder-y-ness.

Horny and Murder-y: The Pat Winslow Story

Soon enough, Pat and the kids decide they will no longer tolerate Matt's stubborn refusals to claim the power that the club provides, so they all try to kill him.  

Listen, I know how delightful that image is. But reader, what no mere image can convey is that whilst attacking her dad, Soleil Moon Frye yells things such as "We don't like nice!" in a demon voice. No, I don't mean that the demon voice is her regular voice pitch-altered or dubbed or anything; I mean it's a seven-year-old doing a demon voice and it is absolutely as incredible as you think it is. Even more so, I dare say.

Matt dons his experimental spacesuit, heads to Steaming Springs, and goes about saving his family.

While some little girls may dream about riding horses or whatever, when I was a little girl I dreamed about someday seeing Robert Urich wearing a spacesuit and shooting lasers at Susan Hell. I can't believe that at long, long last, this movie made my dream a reality!

That happens and then we get to the Negative Zone. And then there's an explosive ending, by which I mean Susan Lucci kind of explodes. I know that is a spoiler. It will not diminish your enjoyment of the moment in the slightest.

I told you! This movie has it ALL.

Look, when I watched this last night I did not do so with the intention of writing about it here ("Girl you never watch anything with the intention of writing about it here!" -- you, probably) (also...that's fair) or anywhere else...but it had me in its steamy grip (gross) from the jump and it didn't let go for even a second. It will never let go! So here I am, handing you an Invitation to Hell and asking you to be my Plus One. Join me and claim the power of this movie! What, are you a coward?


matango said...

I haven't seen it yet, but I have decided this movie is the inspiration for DOOM.

James Lewis said...

YES! I saw this movie recently (past year or so?) and thought it was a crazy, over-the-top TV movie. So much fun!