Macabre…ish Horror Review: Stay Tuned
Stay Tuned, 1992/ 1 hr 29 min
Hen pecked husband, Murray (Bob Dishy) and his wife get an offer they can’t refuse when a mysterious man comes to their door one evening. And not just them, others too.
Roy Knable (John Ritter) is spending a lot of his off time watching tv, even to the detriment of his marriage and relationship with his children. A mysterious salesman, Mr. Spike (Jeffrey Jones), arrives at the Knable’s door with a satellite system that offers 666 channels, programming that cannot be seen on regular television. All he has to do is sign a contract and the payment is his soul.
When Roy’s wife, Helen (Pam Dawber), gets home and sees the giant new system, she’s done with this marriage and packs a bag. While arguing in the backyard, next to the satellite, they are sucked in and land in a game show.
Unbeknownst to Roy and the others, hell has a shortage of souls, the plan is to boost the numbers by getting tv addicts to watch and compete in a variety of challenges with Hellvision and death is a real possibility and desired outcome.
The object is to kill them before they get to the end. They only have 24 hours, part of a treaty, if the contestants survive to the end then they are returned. And so far, only one person has succeeded but Spike intends to make sure that never happens again.
Meanwhile, Helen and Roy progress to a wrestling match where they are paired up against the Gorgons. And Helen wins the match for them. Their next stop is a tundra but someone is there who knows them, Crowley (Eugene Levy), the former assistant to Mr. Spike. He was banished and now is trying to find his own way out. He tells the Knables that they only have to survive 15 hours to get back home.
The kids, Darryl (David Tom) and Diane (Heather McComb), return home to find their parents gone but the new system attracts Darryl. They find a note and think their parents are on a weekend getaway. Darryl almost gets sucked into the satellite while in the backyard and loses his bike. He also finds their Mom’s watch and it stopped at 10:30. Diane sees it as an opportunity to invite her friends over. While watching the new tv, Darryl notices his BMX on the show, Meet The Mansons, it got sucked into the satellite earlier that day. He tries to alert Diane who doesn’t want to believe it.
The Knables escape into the static from the tundra and into the next challenge which is a cartoon and they are now mice running from a robot cat. Darryl sees their parents fighting for their lives in the cartoon. Helen and Roy are separated when Helen is launched into the static first.
The episode goes off and Darryl searches for his Dad who is in Duane’s Underworld. He manages to escape into a black and white movie where he’s a private detective. Helen also happens to be in this one too but they haven’t found each other yet.
So far they have outlived most of the other captives. Meanwhile, Diane and all her friends are in the backyard when the dish activates again. Darryl thinks fast and turns the hose on them, the girls go home and Darryl can finally show Diane their parents on tv.
Murray Seidenbaum is also in this movie, his wife died 5 shows ago and he’s been able to survive until now because he still has his tv remote. The Knables retrieve it after Murray is shot and killed. They change the channel and land in a series about the French Revolution. But they also broke the remote in the landing. Once again they meet Crowley, who they thought was eaten by wolves. And he informs them they only have to survive 2 more hours.
Darryl and Diane make a plan and Darryl builds their own dish to aim at the big one just as Roy is placed in the guillotine and suddenly everyone can hear Darryl’s voice. Helen convince the masses to release his Dad and they, believing it’s God, comply. Spike is infuriated. Then he finds out the contract was only for Roy, so he sends Roy home.
Roy spills out on the lawn from the dish, without Helen and the minions are worried about Mr. Spike’s skirting of the rules. He bets Roy will return to rescue her and so he puts Helen in another movie, this time on train tracks, tied to dynamite. And Roy does return but this time armed with his remote and Mr. Spike intends to meet him there. And the kids watch it all on tv.
Each episode Roy lands in, Mr. Spike is right there. Helen is on her own for now. The kids toss Roy his sword through the satellite, he was once captain of his fencing team and holds his own.
Roy finds himself dancing in a music video trying to get his hands on the remote and Mr. Spike is the dj. He gets the remote and gets back to Helen with the train bearing down on them. At Hellvision they deactivate the escape function but at the last second, Roy hits the power button and he and Helen are ejected out of the satellite dish into their backyard.
Meanwhile, Mr. Spike is at the whim of Mr. Crowley but they couldn’t come to an agreement. And the Knable’s neighbor’s dog, Rivet, who was sucked into the satellite earlier, has his way with Spike. The Knable’s satellite dish melts into the ground and Mr. Spike is replaced by newcomer, Mr. Pierce (Eric King).