INVITATION TO HELL MARKS another entry into the TV movie world for Wes Craven.
With all due respect to Craven, this certainly feels like a TV movie too.
It often feels like a paint by numbers outing for Craven and this may well be the case as he was knee deep in writing what would become A Nightmare On Elm Street and doing last minute sound edits for The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 at the time.
There is a fine array of talent on display during this movie too, with Robert Ulrich taking the lead role of family patriarch, Matt Winslow.
When the Winslows move to a new neighbourhood and Matt takes up his new job when he soon discovers that there is something sinister going on beneath the surface and it seems to be centred on the prestigious club, Steaming Springs.
Anyone who is anyone is fighting for a spot at membership.
And soon enough the family bow to the trappings of materialism and are drawn to all that lies within this world.
Only Matt remains dubious and holds on to his principals, not wishing to conform or be seduced by Jessica Jones played by Susan ‘ Queen of daytime TV’, Lucci.
Notable performances also come from Joanna Cassidy, Soleil Moon Frye, and Barret Oliver.
Overall though, there is nothing that invokes any real emotion from the film. The sense of threat doesn’t hold true and the result of which is that Invitation to Hell becomes a standard movie-watching experience.
Sure the concept of hell is the stuff of nightmares but we have seen this story told before and with a better outcome too.
Craven himself would create a form of hell himself with A Nightmare On Elm Street with its satanesque demon, Freddy Kruger warping the minds of teenagers throughout the world both in dreams and in reality.
For now though, this film does feel like a stepping-stone for greater things to come for Craven and we should acquiesce to that notion.
Craven enthusiasts might be intrigued, but that’s about all there the movie has to offer.
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– Paul Farrell