+++ Opinion +++
TV programming can be horrific, and some films underscore that quite literally. In Wes Craven’s “Shocker”, for example, a murderer sentenced to death becomes pure electricity and prefers to travel to his victims via TV programs. The absurd zapping through the various TV programs is clearly the highlight of the film for me. And that’s exactly what another film ingeniously took to explore it in full length:
In “Stay Tuned,” a married couple is sucked into television programming by a demonic satellite dish, where it has to suffer devilishly nasty parodies of shows, films and series. The result is weird, evil, and silly in the best way, which is why, as a teen, I adored watching the film whenever it was on TV. Unfortunately, he hardly had any other fans, which is why it was difficult to get him for home cinema for a long time. But those times are over now!
» “Stay Tuned” on DVD and Blu-ray at Amazon*
After “Stay Tuned” was released as a limited media book at the end of 2020, it is finally getting a larger, regular edition as standard DVD and standard Blu-ray. Hopefully this will reduce the inhibition threshold for film fans to watch this rather unknown spooky fun!
The hapless Roy Knable (John Ritter) is addicted to television – much to the annoyance of his wife Helen (Pam Dawber), who is already considering divorce. One evening, the TV salesman Spike (Jeffrey Jones) stands in front of the couple’s mat and gives them a high-tech home cinema “to try out” with which 666 programs can be received.
What Roy and Helen don’t realize is that Spike is the devil’s emissary and the home theater is a diabolical trap. It sucks the couple into the TV where the couple must endure 24 hours as part of the Hell program or lose their soul to the devil..
Anyone who loves “Gremlins”, let alone its insane sequel, should be part of the “Stay Tuned” target group. Because director Peter Hyams tries to do a similar “Everything goes, nothing has to!”Clash from a diabolical delight in destruction, monstrosities and chaos on the one hand, and childish puns, slapstick and cartoon pacing on the other. While “Stay Tuned” doesn’t reach the heights that Joe Dante achieves in his “Gremlins” films, there would be no shame in calling “Stay Tuned” a handsome, hilariously enjoyable finger exercise in imitating Dante’s style.
Especially since “Stay Tuned” has one thing in common with “Gremlins 2”: In both films, cartoon legend Chuck Jones temporarily takes over the reins, i.e. the animator who is responsible for countless short films with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck & Co., which are known for their wealth of ideas, famous for their speed and irreverence. No wonder I was so fascinated by “Stay Tuned” as an old cartoon fan at the time…
But “Stay Tuned” also has a lot up its sleeve for film fans who don’t have a penchant for cartoons: The parodies on “The Exorcist”, “Rosemary’s Baby”, “A Terribly Nice Family”, “For a Fistful of Dollars” and many more, which are integrated into the story many more productions swing fun from corny parties to biting persiflage to creative silliness. And the sets have a rough, quirky charm, as do the witty, grotesque effects.
You can tell that Tim Burton was being considered for the directing position, and it’s also noticeable throughout that the main idea of screenwriters Jim Jennewein and Tom S. Parker was: What if Monty Python had made “Dance of the Devils”? And these days, “Stay Tuned” even doubles as nostalgia fodder for zapping times, as well as a cautionary reminder of why being dependent on linear TV was pretty annoying.
*The links to the Amazon offer are so-called affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will receive a commission.