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Terror in the Aisles

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Terror in the Aisles
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAndrew J. Kuehn
Written byMargery Doppelt
Produced byAndrew J. Kuehn
Stephen Netburn
CinematographyJohn A. Alonzo
Music byJohn Beal
Kaleidoscope Films
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • August 31, 1984 (1984-08-31) (Limited Release[1])
Running time
84 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$10,004,817[2]

Terror in the Aisles is a 1984 American documentary film about horror films, including slasher films and crime thrillers. The film is directed by Andrew J. Kuehn, and hosted by Donald Pleasence and Nancy Allen. The original music score is composed by John Beal.


Director Andrew J. Kuehn has excerpted brief segments of terror and suspense in a wide variety of horror movies and strung them together with added commentary, as well as some enacted narrative, to create a compilation of fright-inducing effects. Halloween actor Donald Pleasence and Dressed to Kill star Nancy Allen provide the commentary on topics such as "sex and terror" (Dressed to Kill, Klute, Ms .45, The Seduction, When a Stranger Calls), loathsome villains (Dracula, Frankenstein, Friday the 13th Part 2, Halloween I & II, Marathon Man, Nighthawks, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Vice Squad, Wait Until Dark, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?), "natural terror" (Alligator, The Birds, The Fly, The Food of the Gods, Frogs, Jaws 1 & 2, Konga, Nightwing), the occult (An American Werewolf in London, Rosemary's Baby, The Exorcist, The Omen, Carrie, The Fog, The Fury, The Howling, Poltergeist, The Shining), cosmic terror (Alien, Invasion of the Body Snatchers) and spoofs (Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Hold That Ghost, The Ghost Breakers, Scared Stiff, Phantom of the Paradise, Saturday the 14th). In one segment of the anthology, legendary filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock presents his concepts of how to create suspense in a clip from Alfred Hitchcock: Men Who Made The Movies. The advertising specifically refers to the movies that the clips are taken from as "terror films" instead of "horror films", and some of the films used here (such as MARATHON MAN and NIGHTHAWKS) are not considered horror films but were included because their villains (a Nazi and a global terrorist) were considered horrifying. The most recent film used for the 1984 release was Videodrome, which David Cronenberg brought to theatres in February 1983; the efforts of getting rights to and assembling clips was so extensive that no films released after that were considered for usage by the documentarians.


The movie was released wide theatrically in the United States by Universal Pictures on October 26, 1984. The movie grossed $10,004,817 at the box office.[2]


Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the movie zero stars out of four, explaining, "Scary movie scenes work best when they're set up by some expository foreplay, which is why this compilation of horrors doesn't really work."[3] Vincent Canby of The New York Times thought the commentary from the hosts was "pretty dumb" and concluded, "Because 'Terror in the Aisles' is composed entirely of climaxes, it has none of its own."[4] Variety called the movie "poorly conceived and executed", adding, "Applying the rapid editing and juxtaposition techniques to a feature-length project results in simply ruining many classic movie sequences rather than preserving them."[5] Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times thought the movie was "often fun" but criticized the "cornball, patently phony audience reaction shots."[6] Richard Combs of The Monthly Film Bulletin called it "The That's Entertainment of horror movies—in other words, its dexterity at pasting together clips from a selection of scaries, old and new, is not matched by a glimmer of the historical awareness, or even filmic appreciation, that would make the exercise worthwhile."[7]

Home media[edit]

The movie was released on VHS and CED Videodiscs by MCA Home Video in 1985.[8] On September 13, 2011, the movie was released to digital format as a special feature on the 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray of Halloween II (1981). On October 15, 2012, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment released the movie on DVD as part of its Universal Vault Series.

The movie's DVD and Blu-ray release is presented in the same 1.85:1 aspect ratio of its original theatrical release, which also cropped any segments from other movies that were originally produced using the anamorphic process. The number of terror, suspense, horror and thriller movie clips that are featured and shown from in this documentary totaled to seventy-eight clips.

On October 13, 2020, the movie received its own Blu-ray release courtesy of Scream Factory. As with the previous releases, it was presented in its original aspect ratio; unlike the earlier releases, the Blu-ray includes all-new bonus features, including a new interview with Nancy Allen and the alternate broadcast television edit of the movie.

Archival appearances[edit]

Films shown[edit]


  1. ^ "Terror in the Aisles review". Retrieved 10 August 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Terror in the Aisles". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
  3. ^ Siskel, Gene (November 16, 1984). "Siskel's Flicks Picks". Chicago Tribune. Section 7, p. E.
  4. ^ Canby, Vincent (October 26, 1984). "Screen: 'Terror in the Aisles'". The New York Times. C18.
  5. ^ "Film Reviews: Terror In The Aisles". Variety. October 31, 1984. 24.
  6. ^ Thomas, Kevin (October 27, 1984). "'Terror': Dipping Into Bucket of Blood". Los Angeles Times. Part V, p. 8.
  7. ^ Combs, Richard (April 1985). "Terror In The Aisles". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 52 (615): 122.
  8. ^ "Terror in the Aisles". IMDb. Retrieved 2011-04-09.

External links[edit]