Terror in the Aisles (1984) – By Charles Rector

 One of the hardest feats to accomplish in movie making is that of the scary documentary. Documentaries are generally supposed, by most folks, to be presentations of facts on celluloid. Hence all the controversy that Michael Moore has created with his twisting and distorting of facts and logic to reach a forced conclusion.

The 1984 documentary Terror in the Aisles features clips and trailers from a great many horror and mystery movies. These clips and trailers date from Nosferatu (1922) through Friday the 13th, Part 2 (1981). Hosted/narrated by both Nancy Allen & Donald Pleasance, Terror in the Aisles is both scary and a learning experience all rolled into one.

The choice of hosts may surprise some readers since Pleasance was one of the all time great horror movie actors while Allen was just another beautiful actress with but little acting talent. In any event, Allen’s talents were sufficient for the role of horror flick documentary co-host. The transitions from one clip to another are well done and the clips seem to be in categories such as the stupid, silly and the just plain scary. For example, the opening credits include chase scenes from horror flicks.

The documentary is set in a dark movie theater with both Allen and Pleasance seated with some movie fans. These movie fans are actually actors working on the union minimum wage and their shouts, shrieks and laughter are timed to go along with whatever the hosts are saying. This helps make the documentary seem more "real" than a great many similar projects.

Watching Terror in the Aisles is a pretty scary experience. There are but few documentaries that are scary and this is one of them. This is especially impressive in light of the fact that its scary scenes are from horror flicks that you have likely seen before. However the combination of the hosts, the darkened movie theater setting and the cooperative audience aids in making these largely familiar scenes spooky all over again. Terror in the Aisles is well recommended as a nearly unique viewing experience.