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...