A cop chases two hippies suspected of a series of Manson family-like murders; unbeknownst to him, the real culprits are the living dead, brought to life with a thirst for human flesh by chemical pesticides being used by area farmers.
A scientist and his family move to a new town. He meets the local celebrity the beautiful who runs the local health club to which everyone is a member and makes him suspicious. Intrigued he investigates further and uncovers a terrifying plot. Written by
ABC-TV Daytime-series 1983 contract with actress Susan Lucci for her featured "Erica Kane" role on ABC's "All My Children" (drama series: 1970-2011), guaranteed Susan Lucci a 'first' - a night-time "Movie of the Week" for her guaranteed extension as "Erica Kane" on the ABC daily/weekly soap-opera series. The network's night-time MOW programing division optioned Richard Rothstein to write a mystery. A science fiction-horror thriller scenario, specifically for Susan Lucci for ABC's 1983-1984 MOW night time season of specials. This project was planned to give Susan Lucci a dramatic opportunity - in hopes Lucci would be nominated in the night-time EMMY Best Actress category. The producing team: Robert M. Sertner (producer), Frank von Zerneck (executive producer) and Phillip Wylly Sr. (executive in charge of production & production manager) were entrusted to develop the property. When production was initiated at Culver City Studios (aka:The David Selznick Studio), Petko D. Kadiev, an accomplished story-board illustrator, was brought on board to illustrate and storyboard the original script. Production designer/art director Hub Braden was hired to preliminary budget, scout and design the sets. Jerry Esposito (construction supervisor and coordinator) and Tony Saenz (location manager) also joined the production creative film team. No director had been selected. The ABC night-time network-programing Suits and the producers negotiated to hire Wes Craven as the "Invitation to Hell" MOW director; ABC wanted Wes Craven because of his unique previous television and feature film writing and directing accomplishments. By the time Wes Craven joined the project's creative team, much of the project had been developed. Craven set about studying the script, viewing story-board script illustrations, and collaborating with the creative team on a few of the conceptual requirements. Between scouting sessions, rewriting and tweaking script dialogue, Craven was engrossed in the production. Casting had already determined Susan Lucci, featured as the female "Lucifer" - Jessica Jones; Robert Urich was to play Matt Winslow; Joanna Cassidy was Urich's character's wife Patricia "Pat" Winslow; and Kevin McCarthy as Mr. Thompson. Dean Cundy was hired as cinematographer. Wes Craven and the producers conducted casting-meetings, selecting the final cast performers. While discussing the script motivation during scouting locations on a Saturday morning, the production designer Braden suggested to Wes Craven and Robert Sertner to embellish the film's ending, by adding a "Hitchcock twist" setting up a sequel for the star Susan Lucci. Bob Sertner turned to Wes Craven, exclaiming, "Why didn't we think of that!" The dynamic team feared the network "suits" response dealing with an added twist, altering or tampering with the network's approved script. The only Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Creative Arts EMMY nomination for "Invitation to Hell" was in the category of "Art Direction". See more »
A pull wire is visible when Matt Winslow shoots Tom Peterson with a laser beam, throwing him back. See more »
The best part of the movie is the title; it's all downhill from there.
As far as horror films go, "Invitation to Hell" is pretty laughable. It seems like the Wes Craven was trying to create something in the likeness of an episode of the "Twilight Zone" but the story is very poorly told to the point of hilarity. The plot is difficult to explain, but it concerns a family that moves to a new town and are enamored with their new neighbors, until it turns out that there's something demonic going on at the local spa. Many plot elements have no payoff or are introduced very badly, leaving the audience scratching their heads. Early in the film we learn that our protagonist is working on a space-suit that can withstand extreme temperature and is meant for space travel. It also has the ability to recognize life-forms and inform the person wearing the suit if it human or not human (using SCIENCE!). When it becomes apparent that something is wrong with the people around him, I figured that this suit must have been created with some nefarious purpose in mind, because why else would it have such specific abilities? Did they anticipate to meet humans on Venus, where the suit is meant to travel to? I would imagine that if they saw ANYTHING moving on that planet, it would be easy to identify it as not being human because you know... humans are from Earth? Logically, the suit must have been made to allow humans to travel to hell! Actually no, it's just a coincidence that we have a suit that can detect non-humans and is able to travel to extreme temperatures. When we have a need to figure out who is a real person and who is an impostor and have to travel to the bowels of hell, just go ahead and borrow that convenient device, it's easy! The poorly written story goes further, with the head villain being given vaguely established powers that are used only when it's most dramatically convenient. The special effects are good for what they are (it's a made for TV movie from 1984) and if you are looking for something to make fun of, you'll have a good time. Otherwise, stay away! (On VHS, April 20, 2012)
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