Friday 22 July 2011

HOUSE 4: The Repossession (1992)

Movie and TV Mistress back again with the final instalment of the HOUSE films.
The Fourth movie is called HOUSE 4: The Repossession and it sees the return of Roger Cobb again played by William Katt. Though William Katt is back as Roger Cobb the character, House and family are completely different to the first movie. The only memory of this film I have is that Roger is a ghost, the movie is not going to be as dark as the third film and promises to be a comedy horror, lets hope so, lets start the final movie.

Well at least the correct title appears at the start and it is called HOUSE 4, we see Kelly Cobb standing on the road outside a huge house and she walks in and joins Roger and his step brother Burke talking about home movies, Burke wants Roger to sell the house. Roger has promised to keep the house in the family and renovate it but Burke won't give up on Roger selling. A random Indian has arrived called Ezra, who parts some wisdom on Kelly and the family saying the spirits will rest because Roger is honouring his Grand Father's agreement.

Everybody drives off, but Ezra goes into the basement and checks on a glowing green hole in the floor, carries out a ceremony. Meanwhile Kelly is driving and asks Roger to explain the agreement, Rogers Grand Father made a blood oath on his wedding day not to sell the house, after explaining everything they have a car crash. Kelly is able to pull Laurel her daughter free but the car blows up with a living Roger stuck in it. Laurel survives but is paralysed. For 1992 you'd think Kelly would get her daughter an up to date wheel chair, but no it's a creepy old wicker type.

They return to the house and put Roger's Ashes on the mantle her Dad tries to persuade her not to stay or fix it up. The house is covered in cob webs everywhere and the furniture is all falling apart. Laurel wants to have a Halloween party at the house and starts talking about her first Halloween and we get our first flashback of this movie. She cuts her hand on a piece of glass in the house and goes to wash it but looks like the slime from Ghostbuster 2 is in her taps. Laurel is stating the obvious I hope she doesn't do that in the entire film. Kelly goes to answer the door but the person has already let themselves in, Verna Klump, who claims to be the house keeper is played by Denny Dillion yet another cast member from Night Court, Richard Moll played Big Ben in HOUSE.

There are strange noises coming from the basement so time to investigate, I wonder will we have any jump scares in this film. No she sees a mouse falls over and sticks her bloody hand in the glowing green hole, hay that’s one way to trick a girl into giving a blood oath. 25 minute in and nothing remotely scary has happened. Kelly's cut has healed in a day, wow that house is magic; this house kind of reminds me on the house in the Munsters and Practical Magic. Kelly has more flashbacks and Laurel looks longingly at girls skipping, but Burke arrives to take the property from her to sell it to a Toxic company.

Finally 33 minutes in and an official jump scare, Roger's Ashes are on the ground, Kelly goes to touch it and a hand pops out and grabs her, then Verna arrives and the Ashes are back on the mantle. Yet another William Katt horror film with that scare. There are strange noises in the basement but this time Al the Plumber pops out. Here comes the most famous part of this film the singing pizza man arrives but its the singing pizza with a face that Kelly kills in the garbage disposal which is so famous and hilarious.

Laurel has yet to see anything creepy and probably thinks her mum is nuts. Time for a shower sequence, you got to fit it in somewhere and she is showered in blood. And the mirror says Get out or Die then she sees a burnt up Roger in the mirror. Now it's getting all creepy Nightmare on Elm street style; must be time to go to Church for Ezma's help and time for Ezma to give the exposition of the film.

OK the script writer wasn't even trying when he came up with the name of the chemical company and owner, they're called Acme Chemical and there is a load of gross our humour from Mr Grosso the owner. The henchmen go into the house in bug and snake masks and attack Laurel telling her to get out, her dog lamp comes to life and attacks them, the house tries to hurt the henchmen but they escape. Laurel ends up in hospital and begs her mum to not go back to the house so Kelly calls Burke and tells him to bring the papers.

Kelly sleeps and the sheets are pulled up around her, when she wakes up she rolls off the bed and the projector starts playing home movies, the bed breaks again and she laughs and of course changes her mind and doesn't sell the house to Burke. The two henchmen arrive with some heavy artillery but it's like a dream, well it turns out to be the house showing her what really happened the night she crashed the car. Kelly speaks to Ezma and he tells her to let it go and just go to the police but she is too angry because Burke’s Henchmen killed Roger.

Verna brings Laurel home and tries to protect her, but is knocked out and the Henchmen, who try to set fire to the house, they are turned into a snake and a bug, with very bad effects which reminds me of Dreamscape and The henchmen freak out and shoot each other and the gasoline keeps pouring out and the heat of a bullet shell ignites it. Laurel is trying to crawl out of the house, but can't and Kelly can't get to her, they choke on the smoke and Kelly wakes up with Roger telling her she needs to go back to save Laurel. The healing spring in the house breaks free puts out the fire and heals Laurel so she can walk again. (That was so predictable from the start.)

Burke is arrested in cliché fashion by Verna Klump who turns out to be FBI and Roger appears one last time as a cop and vanishes to the stars, must be one of the left over powers from his time as The Greatest American Hero.

OK that was not as bad as HOUSE 2 but not as great as the first one. The balance of comedy and horror seemed off, it never really had any scary moments and any attempts at scary were so predictable that you saw it coming a mile off including the ending. The script went through so many rewrites by different writers and the director, which could explain the lack of balance.
William Katt being in this film was an after thought and you can tell, he is just added to tie it to the first most successful film. Though on the upside it was nice to see him back in the film and for the franchise to end on a movie closer in style to the original.

What have I learnt from this series of films, well like any franchise, it is very hard to recreate the success of the first film, Comedy and horror do work well together when the balance is right and that in the 80's it was OK to experiment with styles in horror franchise, just look at Halloween, Evil Dead and even the Alien Franchise. Now the horror films lack comedy and never seem to deviate in style between films, which is why we have 7 Saw movies which are basically the same story over and over again.

I would recommend the first film and if you like that, you should check out the rest just for a laugh, they are definitely good films to watch drunk.

If you like commentaries they have provided them to all but the third film and they are fun but the fourth commentary has the added bonus of having James Cameron being called and giving his opinion on one scene.

Till next time.

Sunday 17 July 2011

HOUSE 3: The Horror Show (1989)

Movie and TV Mistress here with the third instalment of my HOUSE reviews.
I should start by talking about the title of this film, in the UK and as you can see from the cover it is called HOUSE 3 but in the US it is called THE HORROR SHOW and when the credits start the film is just called THE HORROR SHOW even on the British DVD. This has lead to debate online as to whether it is a true third instalment of the HOUSE series.

This is what I believe, it is part of the series, partly because it is called HOUSE 3 and comes in the box-set, but mostly because if you look at the plot it is similar to the first HOUSE film without comedy. It is a haunting brought on by revenge. However I am also aware that according to producers, the fourth film is actually the third movie in the "House" series. Because the unrelated “THE HORROR SHOW" adopted the title "HOUSE 3" in both the UK and Australia.

Sean S Cunningham mentions on the HOUSE 2 commentary that he saw these movies as an anthology of haunted house tales not a series of movies about one house, which explains the differences in styles between each one.

So on with the review, the movie's credits start with a silly home video of the family in the house having a BBQ and playing in the yard, this may be the lightest this movie gets, as this is the darkest movie of the series and stars Lance Henriksen as the cop/father, Brion James as Meat Cleaver Max (in case you can't tell, he's the villain) Dedee Pfieffer as the cop's daughter and Aron Eisenberg as her brother (he used to be in DS9 as Nog the Ferengi kid)

The house in the movie is just a typical big American house, nothing like what’s shown on the cover art. It's the middle of the night and Lance is checking the house and family, I guess there may be our first scare coming already, as he gets his gun. Oh no the front door is open and it's all foggy, I suspect this opening sequence is a dream. All of a sudden a cat jumps out of no where giving us our first Jump scare, I'm always reminded of Ripley's cat in Alien when this type of scare happens. Lance stares at the furnace in the basement smiles and then we are at a location where he and his partner are hunting down the serial killer, I bet his partner is one day from retirement. Anyone for some fried hand or heads for dinner, looks like quite the delicacy.

I may be making all the jokes as this movie is to serious. Oh and I was right his partner didn't make it. Max has hold of a little girl, he cuts her head off but she still screams, Lance wakes up hurting his wife but it's Max in drag who sticks a meat cleaver in his chest and then he wakes up again but has blood on his chest. This seems like Nightmare on Elm Street, which may explain the tag line “You'd rather be on Elm St.” You may be thinking this movie also sounds like another Wes Craven movie called SHOCKER which it really does, even the electrocution scene seems like it belongs in a Craven movie. I thought the horrible electrocution in THE GREEN MILE was bad this is worse.

So Max didn't die straight away he got loads of volts broke his restraints and while on fire told Lance “I'm coming back to tear your world apart” he then promptly dies. A weird professor asks the doctor if there has been any electric impulses or weird activity, but the Doctor says he had 50000 volts put though him and leaves the professor to do his checks, the professor witnesses an Electric spirit leave the body and then we see it in Lance's House fuse box, time for cat jump scare number 2, oh dear no cat, will it return or has Max already killed it?

Lance sees his Psychiatrist who thinks the cut could be a form of stigmata, lance laughs it off and leaves, the Professor warns Lance in the car park but of course he is ignored. We get set ups for later scares including seeing a Halloween mask and instead of finding Max behind the cloths in the basement it's Vinny, Dedee's boyfriend. It's suddenly night and Lance is driving and picturing everything that happened he nearly has a car crash and then talks to Max in the car.

Lots of stuff happening in the rooms in front of mirrors, mirrors in horror movies always make me nervous. Vinny is still in the basement and is going to leave when he hears Dedee's voice telling him what to do, but he can't see her. It's Max he's back and kills Vinny.

Dedee goes to the basement but can't find Vinny, Lance nearly gets some action with the wife but Max calls, killing the mood. Dedee gets her brother to help her look for Vinny. Oh Yay, more creepy music while people sneak around the house, Lance goes to the Basement and shouts at the Furness as it sounds like Max, well I think it sounds like Beetlejuice, I expect him to say “I've come for your daughter” while he talks about her. Dedee comes clean and is grounded next day the family is having a turkey lunch. Now this is the 80's horror movie with twisted images, so I suspect something is inside or is going to come out of the Turkey, because they keep giving us close up's. I was kind of right the turkey changed and had Max's face on it telling Lance that his family was dead.

Next the family are watching some comedy on TV, but Lance see Max doing stand up and can't take it so shoots the TV. He goes to his therapist and says he thinks he's going crazy, he decides to visit the home of Max but the Professor shows up explaining everything including Max being electromagnetic evil and how to kill him.

Dedee gets a phone call from a dead Vinny asking her to go to the basement and surprise, surprise Vinny falls on her. Because Lance was shouting in the Basement when Vinny was last seen he is arrested. Meanwhile the professor still at Max's place records his plans to kill Max but Max kills him. Lance is questioned by Internal Affairs and then Max disguised as an attorney threatens him, Max calls and threatens Dedee and then we have the classic shower scene required in all horror movies, but no scare yet. Ah he's a gentleman he waited till she was dressed and in her room before he attacked her.

Lance escapes the Police station, but meanwhile it's the mothers turn to be scared by following a girl to the basement and the reveal of the dead cat and the girl with a cut throat, Max kisses the mother while making cat noises. Lance arrives to find his son's ears cut off then Dedee can't get out of bed because she is pregnant to Max, while Lance's chest cut is getting worse and opening. It's starting to remind me of Videodrome or any David Cronenberg film with weird images and make up.

Lance falls down the stairs and then wakes up finding his son and daughter are tide up at the dinner table, Dedee has a baby, which Lance takes and goes to smash it but everyone disappears. Lance goes after Max and ends up in the place from the start, the professor's head reminds him what he needs to do and then blows up. Lance catches up with Max and his wife, there is a fight and Lance and his wife get away and electrocute him which makes him real and then Lance shoots up his body in the real world.

The family sell the house and everybody including the cat is back to normal, but what about the Professor?

So that was HOUSE 3 it's definitely a lot creepier and darker then the other two. As I said it owes a lot to Cronenberg and Craven in it's style and format, there really isn't anything you haven't seen in the more successful horror series of the 80's. This movie felt like a bit of a mess and seemed to be making things very complicated with how Max's character worked, there were definitely elements of Freddy Kruger, but so much more in common with SHOCKER the other Craven film, which came out the same year as HOUSE 3 and was the more successful film at the box office. If you would rather see a HOUSE movie try to be scary then this one might be for you, but I still think the first one works the best in it's own way.

Next the return of Roger Cobb (William Katt) in HOUSE 4: The Repossession.

Thursday 14 July 2011

HOUSE 2: The Second Story (1987)

Movie and TV Mistress time for the second story in the HOUSE series.
OK so this is the second movie and we all know the sequels are usually not going to be as good as the first one, but this one though it's an 18 goes all out comedy with subtle horror elements, it's like are you afraid of the dark. Also yet another movie that focus on a Crystal Skull which just adds to how much this movie also disappoints me.

But on with the review the House in this film is different it is a brick mansion but just as big as the first one, it has many different art styles inside. The film starts in the past with a couple giving their baby to another couple, they head back in and hear a noise go to investigate, husband has gun in hand and they find a figure in a room, the husband goes to shoot but is shot by the figure the wife runs but is caught by the figure and he tells her to give him the Skull and she's shot. We then flash forward 25 years and Jesse, played by Arye Gross who used to be in Ellen moves in with his girlfriend the house has been passed down his family.

They explore the dusty house and find an empty pedestal, I guess that’s where the crystal skull goes, the electricity isn't working but the girl can make a phone call... we get a quick history of Jesse's family and he knows the couple killed in the opening were his parents and we see his Great Great grand father. Jesse wakes up in the middle of the night and will something scary happen... No just a collapsible Iron board falls on his head. Jesse's friend and girlfriend arrive next very drunk, yay Amy Yesbeck in another bad 80's sequel, I know she is really funny and I do love her in movies and Wings but I always feel she could do something great.

So we get more history about the Mcguffin Crystal Skull with diamonds in it's eyes, and exposition about the skull and Jesse and his friend go in search and dig up his Great Great Grand father, who buried the Skull with him and is still alive as the skull gives ever lasting life, he wears a hideous mask but looks pretty good for over a hundred and seventy years old. Like I said earlier there really aren’t any scares in this film and 20 minutes in the skull has been found.

Gramps explains more about the house as a temple and protecting the skull, and how it was supposed to make him young again. But he notice's that he is 170 year old zombie who can't die. Charlie Jesse’s friend takes Gramps out for a drive and a drink. I'm board with this film but oh look it's Bill Maher. This movie feels like a lot of exposition and information from Gramps and when he tells a story I’m reminded of an old BT advert. Boring story montage who knew that was possible.

There is a party happening in the house and Charlie forgot to tell Jesse, Jesse bumps into an old flame, Gramps joins the party and the Skull starts doing stuff and lets out a big guy from an ancient time into the party, this movie is reminding me of the second Waxworks movie. Jesse's girlfriend beats him up because of his old flame and Gramps is beaten up by the big guy who then steals the skull and returns to the room he came from which has got a jungle in it. Jesse has to get the Skull back from the stone age guy Charlie tags along and brings weapons.

In the jungle there are some weird creatures and dinosaurs the history of this is stupid the guy is meant to be from the stone age which is well after the dinosaurs, or polished metal swords, but I’m nit picking. The stone age guy is eaten by what looked like a ROUS. And again they get the skull back only to loose it to a pterodactyl. I hate this story so much, why is it even an 18 movie? it might as well be a kids adventure film, Gremlins was scarier then this. I'm only half way though this film and I just want it to end already.

They crash though the jungle into the basement with the skull and baby pterodactyl and weird dog creature that looks like a caterpillar with a dogs face. Jesse chases the baby dino bird around the house and then hide it from his girlfriend and boss who are high on valium Jesse and Charlie get slapped as they find Jesse’s ex girlfriend in the cupboard. So now we're down to 3 guys in the house and some weird creatures.

Looks like the Incas hurt Gramps and took the skull, yay at last John Ratzenberger has arrived as Bill the electrician, Bill has no problem with the fact the house has other time dimensions in it and now we have a Temple of Doom like scene Bill is awesome and is like a real hero in comparison to the other guys. Bill beats them out since he was fighting when they left him, he gives them his card which says Bill Towner Electrician & Adventurer. That section is my favourite part John Ratzenberger can do no wrong why do you think Pixar love him.

The weird group including a virgin Inca girl have dinner and finally the figure from the start turns up to fight Gramps for the skull, he looks a bit like Bubba Ho-Tep, he shoot Gramps and takes the girl and skull to old west and Jesse finds out the bad guy killed his parents so goes after him. Time for a showdown but Jesse can't shoot straight with a pistol, he gets a shotgun. Jesse keeps getting shot how is he still standing and firing, the Police arrive because of the gunfire and Jesse shoots the figures head to bits, then gets the skull back to Gramps, but it's time for Gramps to move on.

The police are still waiting for Jesse to come out but the headless figure gets up and shoots his the sheriff and the police open fire the house is set alight and Jesse gets the creatures and Gramps out by going into the western dimension and stays their with his friend and new Inca girlfriend.

The writer director set out to make a completely different movie from the first, he definitely did that and he was planing on an anthology of haunted house movies. I think I hate this movie because it makes less sense then the first and went down the all out comedy route, which doesn't work very often with horror franchises, the only one I can think of is Army of Darkness. I know it's not meant to be a horror but it is so ridiculous and has to many pointless characters, except for Bill just cause I love his stuff. I would not go out of your way to watch this film unless your having trouble sleeping.

Next HOUSE 3 or THE HORROR SHOW to Americans.

HOUSE (1986)

Movie and TV Mistress here reviewing the first of the HOUSE movies.

Now don't get this confused with House MD, HOUSE is a Horror series that started in 1986, it's about a haunted House, but nothing like Amityville Horror. This is like a lot of the horrors of the 80's a Horror Comedy, well the first one is and well the others are a little different, I’ll explain as I review each one.

So HOUSE opens with very ominous and creepy music and has a quick image of the House that will feature in the series. Think Psycho meets Wisteria Lane. The Director of Photography or editor has used negative images to show the house in a disturbing way, the camera travels all around the house, well it is a character itself and so we need to know more about it and thanks to a delivery boy we get to go inside. There are disturbing pieces of modern art which do seem out of place in an old house, the grocery boy walks up stairs and checks the rooms for Mrs Hooper and finds her in her bedroom, where she has hung herself, that’s one way to get out of tipping the boy or paying your bill.

We are now introduced to Roger Cobb played by William Katz from Perry Mason. Roger is a Horror writer signing his books, he no longer wants to write horror, instead he wants to write about his experience in the Vietnam war. Now I laugh at this moment because Mindy Sterling AKA Frau Farbissina in Austin Powers starts bugging him about his famous ex wife, even back then she was comedy gold.

Roger is pretending he's doing well while on the phone with his ex wife who he still clearly loves but they broke up because of the disappearance of their son. Next we get a random Vietnam type dream with his son playing on a grave and a monster reaching up for him. This film doesn't do subtle mood changes it just jumps between comedy and horror when it feels like, I guess it keeps you on your toes.

Roger is shown round his aunts house where his son disappeared by a funny realtor. We get a flashback to how his son Jim disappeared and it starts to feel a bit like the Shining Mini series, the son was pulled under the water but isn't there when Roger dives in. we're back with the funny realtor and he shoots a harpoon at Roger and they act like nothing happened. Back to flashback and we see why people thought his aunt was crazy she told the police that the House took his son.

Roger tells the realtor he is not selling and he moves in. there is a lot of set up and this part of the movie is like when Ash was alone in the cabin in Evil Dead 2, there are weird noises and creepy stuffed animals and fish. He goes into his aunts old room, this is where I get scared every time I see it, hay I'm a chicken sometimes. His dead Aunt is there and she tells him what happened and then she hangs herself again and disappears. She warns him to leave as the house will trick him, but when does anyone in a haunted house leave when their told...Never.

Yay we finally meet Roger's neighbour George Wendt AKA Norm from Cheers, he tells Roger he's his biggest fan and I start picturing Misery with Norm. Roger escapes to the house to write his novel and we get flashbacks to Vietnam then the TV comes on and he turns it off and his son is on a window and he turns that off with the remote two, stop taking the drugs. He follows the laugh of his son into his aunts room and then says he must be going crazy and walks away he brushes his teeth and changes his mind and checks the closet just before midnight nothing happens and then the clock tolls and he opens the door again and is attacked by a huge monster.

This is before internet but he buys loads of camera's, lights and sound equipment and tests out his plan to capture images of the creature in the closet. He runs out in full army gear and is met by Norm and says he's just writing.
Later that night Norm comes into the house just before midnight saying he brought a midnight snack and he thinks solitude is better with someone else. Roger explains his whole life and why he has all the camera's in his aunts room, Norm thinks he's crazy and making it up and steals Roger’s address book and phone's Sandy Roger's Ex wife about his concerns.

Sandy calls Roger be he is too engrossed in his own flashback to Vietnam; The Vietnam stuff feels strange but it is all set up for later in the movie but I’ll get to that later. Roger's alone and a toy car comes driving in then a huge fish on the wall comes to life and attacks Roger, so just like Ash, he heads to the shed for a shot gun but the garden tools are trying to kill him too. He escapes and trips in the kitchen dropping 2 shells under a table. He shoots the fish and puts a towel over it, all seems well until there is a knock on the bathroom door and the Garden tools are their.

Sandy had said to Norm that she could not come as she had an early morning call but how strange she's here, oh no I was wrong it's an ugly Jessica Rabbit puppet he shoots it and wakes Norm. The House is really playing with Roger now because the monster looks like his wife again, so he hides her body. Norm calls the police and Roger pretends that he's cleaning the gun and that it went off, I have never known police to arrive so quickly, but it is movie world.

The cops find the 2 dropped bullets and startle Roger a couple of times before they finally leave and don't write him up for firing his shotgun. The Dead body of Sandy has disappeared oh no what ever could that mean...he heads to his aunts room and she has walked into the closet or so he thought, no it tricked him and the ugly Jessica Rabbit sounds like Alvin from the chipmunks, he fights her and opens the bathroom door and the garden tools kill and chop her to bits.

We have a great song and montage of him burying parts of the body in the backyard. We're 55 minutes in and we get a new character introduced, another neighbour a hot girl who flirts, meanwhile a dog has dug up the monsters hand, I predict high jinx like Evil Dead 2.

The hot neighbour asks if Roger is ready to play but she means with her son Robert, who has the monsters hand on his back. He chases Robert around and flushes the hand down the toilet and she basically dumps her kid on Roger so she can go out. Yet another Nam flashback showing how crazy his friend Big Ben was and how he died. Robert has disappeared with a couple of creepy looking monsters, Robert seems to be enjoying this game. Ah what directors will do to there own kids in a movie. If this movie was made today this section would not happen.

Roger invites Norm round after the kid is gone and tells him that the ghost in the closet is a giant raccoon and that they are going to kill it and at midnight Roger opens the door and Norm is freaked, but does shoot the harpoon, roger gets caught on the line and is dragged into the other world in the closet which looks just like Vietnam. Ah they are trying to confuse us, is this really happening now or is it a flashback...feels like a flashback but the closet door is still open.

Roger has worked out what’s happening and the movie is showing us, we finally see the whole picture his aunt painted. His son is trapped in the other realm behind the bathroom mirror where a cathulu type monster tries to kill Roger, he ties a rope around the toilet and takes his shot gun and abseils down the bottomless void, he is attacked by a creepy skull faced winged monster that steals his gun, it shoots the rope and Roger falls into water he finds his son in a bamboo cage like a Vietnam prisoner of war, they escape and appear in the pool. It has the typical it's over happy music but we know it's not.

A Decomposing Big Ben turns up and admits he took Roger's son because Roger didn't kill him when he was injured and be was tortured for weeks, Roger runs around the house avoiding Big Ben and tells his son to run to a neighbours house. Big Ben chucks Roger about, but Roger fights back and beats Ben with his own arm which Ben reattaches. During the fight the House has moved to a cliff and Rogers hanging off the edge, but roger pulls Ben off the edge instead. It has to be over right...nope Ben and the house tricked him again, Ben has his son again; we get a labyrinth type ending with Roger saying you have no power over me and blows him up. Sandy finally arrives for real and the house is on fire but Roger and Jim are fine.

True this movie is not as remembered as The Evil Dead and Friday 13th films but boy is is fun, it is ridiculous, creepy and doesn't make a lot of sense, at times it feels like a series of comedy sketches put between horror but I like it. As I have pointed out a few time in this review, there are a lot of similarities between what happens to Roger and Ash in Evil Dead 2, so if you like your horror cheesy and funny like Evil Dead 2 then check this one out.

Next I'll be reviewing HOUSE 2...