During the peak of the slasher-movie boom of the early '80s, there were numerous attempts at Airplane!-style horror parodies, all of which fell considerably short of their comic targets and vanished into cable-TV obscurity. Hysterical, an abortive vehicle for the questionable comic talents of the Hudson Brothers, is perhaps the weakest of the lot. Bill Hudson plays Fred Lansing, a writer vacationing at a rustic lighthouse in the deceptively idyllic Oregon fishing town of Hellview, where he is tormented by the apparition of Venecia (Julie Newmar), a local woman who killed herself one hundred years ago. The lovelorn Venecia wishes to use Fred's body as the vessel for the spirit of her dead husband, Captain Howdy (Richard Kiel, once again typecast as a great big guy), and isn't particularly interested in Fred's opinion on the matter. When Howdy apparently grumbles to life, several townspeople are subsequently murdered in ghastly ways, leading a pair of bumbling detectives (Mark Hudson and Brett Hudson) to investigate the horrific history of the Hellview lighthouse and generally make nuisances of themselves. Filled with insipid puns, tired sight gags, silly musical numbers, and unfunny cameo appearances from the likes of Bud Cort and Charlie Callas, this inept spoof has perhaps three genuine laughs scattered throughout its ninety-minute runtime, amounting to only one decent joke per half-hour of wasted film.
by Cavett Binion synopsis