Can you believe that in the same year that A Nightmare on Elm Street was released, Wes Craven also directed a TV movie starring Susan Lucci as the devil? Hell yeah! This thing is 80s as hell. It even costars the kid from The Never Ending Story and the kid from Punky Brewster. Kevin McCarthy is on hand too, as an evil executive warming up for his Oscar quality role in UHF. Susan Lucci doesn’t top her best performance, that of the lady who used up most of the data on the cell phone plan in that Progressive commercial, but she comes close.
But I’m neglecting the real stars, Robert Urich and his spacesuit. Bob plays a computer genius who gets a great job at an evil corporation building a spacesuit that can withstand the heat on the planet Venus. The helmet on the suit can detect humans as well as evil lifeforms such as Susan Lucci’s character, and can shoot lasers and fire. It’s freaking awesome. But his wife, a materialistic piano playing Joanna Cassidy, isn’t content being married to a genius played by one of the most handsome men on 80s television, she also wants to join the country club that Susan Lucci manipulates everyone at the evil corporation to join. Soon she and the two kids are replaced by really unpleasant Stepford versions of themselves and Bob has to save the real versions of them.
I was thinking while watching that this was a sci-fi movie and there were going to be robots or aliens involved. But no, it was supernatural all along. And it’s pretty crazy from start to finish. Chekov’s spacesuit comes into play during the big rescue, but oddly, although Susan/Satan is really hot on stealing the family’s souls before the big Halloween party, the fact that the end of the movie takes place on Halloween isn’t really important to the plot. Although Bob does get to walk through the party in the space suit, giving him the perfect cover to break into the weird part of the club. So this technically is a Halloween movie, yay!
Sitting here in the actual purgatory of 2021 I get kind of irritated whenever I watch old movies that tried to hammer into our brains the metaphor that a well-paying office job with benefits and retirement pay and weekends off is a descent into hell, but we won’t think about that today. Invitation to Hell is an 80s TV horror movie, with all the high drama that entails, and I got to gaze at Robert Urich for 90 minutes. Also, the family dog doesn’t die, although you’re made to think he might. I will definitely watch this again. I can’t believe I never saw it before. It’s an invitation I’m happy to RSVP to.