Cinema/TV, Film Notes

FrightFest review – Transmission

FrightFest review – Transmission

It’s established early on that the strange events of Transmission affect the California community of Santa Mira – which would tend to evoke Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), though as it happens the reference here is more likely to the Santa Mira of Halloween III Season of the Witch.  Not so much a found footage film as a channel surfing movie, it has a frame of an old man watching late night TV and flipping between channels – but a story is told across two movies (the low-budget space opera Transmission – introduced by horror hostess Malvolia/Jennifer Nangle – and the low-brow teen comedy Nutballs), a documentary about horror filmmaker and occultist Frank Tadross Roth (Vernon Wells) who mysteriously disappeared while not quite finishing his masterpiece, an unfolding ‘violent home invasion’ story narrated by on-the-spot reporter Sienna Moran (Felissa Rose) and snippets of a puppet show, a televangelist huckster and a 1950s sit-com.  Writer-director Michael Hurst weaves all this together cleverly, and layers in a feel of impending dread as it becomes obvious that broadcasting the finale of Transmission – which includes footage from a cursed tape of a sacrifice carried out in Italy in the spirit of the more gonzoid Italian horror films of the 1980s – will likely prove very bad for Santa Mira and perhaps humanity as a whole.  A scattering of familiar faces from the fringe movie scene – including Dark Delicacies maven Del Howison, not as Renfield for once – suggest the insider nature of the piece, and it’s more or less a collage of homages to B pictures, pulp fiction, cosmic horror and the multi-media skit pics of the 1970s like some demented scrambling of Zeder, TerrorVision and The Groove Tube.  The main films-within-the-film perfectly catch the ambiance of 1990s direct-to-video snoozers, so it’s no wonder the viewer flicks away from them often.

Here’s the FrightFest listing.




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