Starring Chris Carrara, Jessica Bowman, John Diehl, Tony Longo, Stuart Fratkin, Derya Ruggles, Jordan Belfi, Kenneth A. Brown, Lorna Scott
Directed by Ted Nicolaou
On the general scale:
On the B-movie scale:
I purposefully don’t do much research so I can come to movies without too many expectations. In the case of Remote, knowing nothing led me to incorrectly assume that the title referred to a TV remote. I imagined a magical remote control as the catalyst to the typical Moonbeam storyline of a kid getting sucked into an alternate world, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In actuality, Remote is more grounded than any other Moonbeam film I’ve seen so far, and the title refers to remote-controlled planes, cars and yodeling Germans.
The storyline is fairly scattershot, but if I had to classify it as something, it’s basically a Home Alone clone. Randy (Chris Carrara) is your typical ’90s whiz kid, and his special interest is in remote-controlled devices. His best friend is a baseball-playing girl named Judy (Jessica Bowman), and they spend a lot of time together flying remote-controlled planes, and racing remote-controlled cars around the duct work in the attic of the sole model house for an undeveloped housing tract. This house is their special hideout, but when a trio of bungling burglars seek refuge there, Randy finds himself trapped in the attic with nothing but his remote-controlled minions between him and the criminals.
I’m sure you can see where the Home Alone parallels can be drawn, but Remote only really becomes a Home Alone clone in the final 20 minutes or so. The rest of the film is a lot of tame comedy, corny dialogue and footage of remote-control vehicles doing their thing. To say that there’s a story is a real stretch; it’s more of a string of situations than anything that can be classified as a story.
Despite a very distinct and comforting ’90s vibe (which could also be very off-putting to some), Remote is still rather relevant to today’s issues. With the film set around a housing tract stopped mid-construction, it is easy to imagine a more modern version where the building has stopped due to the housing crash. The model house is also the subject of vandalism and squatters. The realtor character kind of dashes this topical fantasy of mine, but a socially interested fan of B-movies can dream, right? Louis, one of the burglars, has fantasies of owning a home, too, which could easily be played up for emotions in a modern remake. Speaking of this character, I have to imagine that the actor playing him, Tony Longo, felt like he had reached a low point in his career as he mopped baked beans off the floor with a Twinkie and ate them. Look at me now, Ma! I made it! (This fantasy of mine is also dashed, as the film’s behind-the-scenes VideoZone reveals this moment was actually Longo’s idea!)
Randy’s character would definitely have a different arc if the film was made under modern times, though. His materialistic obsession with remote-controlled toys is both his reason for getting into the skirmish with the criminals and for getting out of it, and he couldn’t care less about reuniting with his mom after this “traumatic” event. He’s a great expression of the materialistic ’80s, a kid who cares most about his possessions, and who learns through the film’s events that his possessions are worth caring about over his family.
Remote was only Moonbeam’s second film, coming out shortly after Prehysteria!. As such, it was made during the era where Full Moon was backed by Paramount Pictures… well before any of the other Moonbeam films I’ve seen. The films during this era have a higher budget, so I was curious to see how this would translate to the Moonbeam stuff. Well, for one it means that Romania doesn’t stand-in for the US, which also means that the entire cast are native English speakers and there’s none of the questionable but hilarious dubbing that is so prevalent in the later Moonbeam films. Awful/funny ’90s CG had yet to really proliferate itself through the industry, so there’s also none of that (and this might be the only time I’ll write about wanting CG in a non-CG film!) This is all sort of a double-edged sword for a fan like me, as those elements definitely detract from the more traditional sense of film quality, but they also generally add a healthy dose of B-Movie laughs and fun. So Remote is technically better produced, but it’s also of a seemingly lesser, more boring quality than some of the later, lower-budget efforts.
Oh well, as much as I’m not saying too many good things about Remote, it is rather entertaining in a weird, boring way. Watching annoying criminals avoid an alarm system by strategically stepping on cigarette packs between sensors is oddly more fun to watch than it might sound. Oh, and if you’re really into footage of remote-control planes flying around, you’ll likely enjoy Remote far more than I did, as there is a lot of that!
Next time I get around to a Full Moon movie, I’ll be going with the non-Full Moon film that I’ve avoided for about five years: Jim Wynorski’s 1994 film Ghoulies IV! See ya then!