Terror in the Aisles (1984)

Genres - Horror  |   Release Date - Oct 26, 1984 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 85 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Brian J. Dillard

Though it's not much of a documentary, this compendium of "horror's greatest hits" has a lot more going for it than such later efforts as Boogeymen. Full of excellent, mostly gore-free excerpts from a wide variety of thrillers, slasher flicks, and creature features, Terror in the Aisles was a box-office hit upon its theatrical release, and rightly so. The film's voice-overs, by Halloween star Donald Pleasence and Carrie actress Nancy Allen, add a knowingly campy framework to the assembled frights. The staged scenes of people freaking out in movie theaters give Allen and Pleasence the chance to savor the witty narration, including the creepy tagline: "It's only a movie...but sooner or later you must leave the theater, perhaps alone!" A wonderful, though recycled, interview with Alfred Hitchcock functions as the sole stab at scholarly commentary, but at least it's smartly intercut with an example of the methodology the old master's explaining. Of course, the majority of the fun lies in the clips themselves. It's a lot of fun to watch Hollywood classics such as Klute and Strangers on a Train rub shoulders with indies and obscurities such as Ms. 45, The Phantom of the Paradise, and even Alligator. The excerpts are tantalizing, and only the most obsessive genre buffs will have seen all of the 60-plus assembled films. Of course, those who rush out to view the actual movies may learn in some cases that the clips salvage the only decent scenes from total duds; 1979's When a Stranger Calls comes to mind. Nevertheless, Terror in the Aisles features killer outtakes from so many first-rate movies that it can't help but be as good as the sum of its many enjoyable parts.