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John’s Old School Horror Corner: The Nesting (1981)

July 8, 2012

MY CALL:  The only scary thing about this movie was that I managed to find some positive reviews for it on Amazon.  Stupid.  Not scary.  Only stupid.  The word stupid comes to mind quite a bit while watching this movie.  The ghosts and the story are stupid.  The main character is stupid.  The title is stupid.  And people only die for stupid reasons.  WHAT TO WATCH INSTEAD:  For some old school haunted house-ish action that is so bad you’ll laugh I’d aim for The Sentinel (1977) or Night Wish (1990) to pick a few randomly from the masses.  If you want less scary, newer and way more intentionally funny then go for The Hazing (2004), one of my personal favorites.

This stupid movie is about a stupid agoraphobic writer who moves into a secluded estate haunted by a bevy of malevolent hooker ghosts.

After years of therapy Lauren (Robin Groves; Silver Bullet) decides to take her agoraphobia treatment into her own hands and tries a “Do It Yourself” hypnosis kit which she tries once and quits.  With the increasing pressure of the release of her next book and her fear of wide open spaces she naturally decides to spend some time out of the city in—wait for it—a wide open space!  Evidently her true fear is of populated metropolises because this agoraphobic covers a lot of ground.  She drives two hours and goes out in the woods and encounters some creepy secluded McMansion that looks like a fictitious house of unique architecture illustrated on the cover of her last book, The Nesting, from which this flick inherited its unfortunate and, if anything, misleading title. 

When Netflix suggested The Nesting I thought I was in for a supernatural vermin flick where roaches or something eat the tenants.  No such luck.  That would’ve made for a much better movie.

I truly wanted to watch this instead–sadly it’s not on Netflix.  Just look at the images on the back.  This…looks…AWESOME!!!  Giant roach attacking a chick in her underwear…million dollar idea!  Just stop reading this review, go find this and watch it! Now!

Let’s pause for a moment and take note that we’re out in the boondocks where the folks are simple, speak slowly, and shoot trespassers.  So, thinking that she saw someone looking out from the second floor window (presumably from their own house!), she trespasses inside to investigate the somewhat dilapidated home, which seems oddly familiar to her even from the inside.  She smells perfume and finds a lit cigarette, even sees someone walking on the other side of an opaque window, and it didn’t occur to her overly entitled WASPy mind to sneak her ass back outside of there before owner or groundskeeper or whatever called the cops or shoot her in the face claiming eminent domain.  Why Lauren feels there is something that needs to be solved by some random writer chick from the city is beyond me.  She finds no one, contacts the owner to discover no one lives there, and somehow shifts from sleuthy suspicion and breaking/entering to future tenant as she feels this would be a great place for her to do some writing.  Huh!?!

For a ritzy, writer, big city white chick with a socially debilitating phobia she is surprisingly hard to phase.  She ignores a number of major red flags.  When she asks the owner (John Carradine; Buried Alive, The Sentinel) about renting the house, the old guy looks at her like he saw a ghost and literally strokes out in front of her!  I don’t know if you’ve like ever seen a horror movie, but this is how they f***ing start!  Then, to our agoraphobic who intends to stay out in the woods alone, they say she can’t get phone service for at least a week.  I think that if I was having panic attacks at the very thought of walking outside I’d probably like access to a phone to voice my mania to a therapist or shockingly patient boyfriend.

She starts having weird nightmares, shit starts moving on its own, she finds a record playing in the attic (which she had never been in before!), and after just one night she quite casually mentions that she thinks the house might be haunted.  However, she seemed to have no intention of leaving.  Are you kidding me!?!  If you’re place isn’t haunted, then you have strangers sneaking into the house (while you’re in it!) and messing with you and you have no phone and no one living nearby.  I’m going to go ahead and consider that a strong point of concern, phobic chick who lives alone.  If that wasn’t enough, by the third night of her stay she is assaulted by a bordello of hooker-geists.  Like something out of an Ed Wood film, she runs through a crowd of extended grabby arms which somehow never manage to grasp her.  With her terror finally eclipsing her curiosity, she still makes no effort to leave the damned house.  At this point, I think she deserves to die for her stupidity.  [At this point I’d like you to scroll up to the movie poster beginning this post and read the tagline at the top.]

The deaths in this movie, like our protagonist and the writers’ definition of agoraphobia, are all stupid.  Her psychiatrist comes to check on her progress and ends up falling off of the roof of the house when he is distracted by the unwarranted laughter of some spectral prostitute.

Later, Lauren’s alcoholic country bumpkin handyman gets a little too handsy with her.  Luckily she is saved by the telekinetic assault of a sex worker’s spirit.  When he tries to get away he is ultimately dispatched by a bunch of random lake zombie arms pulling him to a mucky, unexciting death. 

A local oaky gets road-ragey after she asks a few too many questions and tries his hand at vehicular homicide.   He must yell I’m going to kill you a dozen times yet I have no idea why her line of questioning got him so bloodlusted.  At no point yet—STILL!!!—has Lauren even considered leaving the house.  Let’s just take a moment to appreciate how many good opportunities there were for her to notice that this is not a good situation and decide to leave.  After all, nothing was keeping her there but curiosity—or stupidity.  [Again, I’d like you to scroll up to the movie poster and read that tagline again.]

On another totally random note, the owner’s grandson is a physicist (living out in the boondocks) and is recruited to help Lauren prove that the house is haunted…while she continues to live in it!!!  After he agrees, we never again hear anything about physics or proving that the house is haunted.  WTF!?!  Just about the only sensible thing about this movie was when we see the flashback during which all of those whores got murdered in the first place.

Eventually you find out why these undead venereal disease carriers are lingering around the house and why they never try to kill Lauren.  There was, in fact, a reason and it’s stupid!  Don’t see this movie.

Yup, that’s how I felt after suffering through this movie–no desire to go on.

Best Quote of the Movie:  “You’re too damned crazy to be crazy!”  Sound like the words of an esteemed physicist from the boondocks, right?

The WTF Factor:  Just past the two-minute mark, The Nesting is perhaps the only movie EVER to justify having a case of the shakes and dropping your keys when trying to deal with a door lock.  In this case, the main character is an agoraphobic writer who is horrified at the prospect of leaving her home to run errands or whatever.  They sell her terror of open spaces (i.e., public) pretty hard [in the opening scene anyway—after that her phobia was evidently forgotten].  This in mind, when she drops them later while being chased by something scary no one will be saying crying oh God.  But this never happens!  She ends up staying in a haunted house with nothing keeping her from leaving throughout the whole movie.  So what the Hell was the point in showing her drop the damned keys?!?!

Now I’d like to talk about misleading movie posters for a while…

Above we have the most mainstream poster for this movie.  Who are those ghostly figures outside the house? And why are they shrowded in fog?  Looks for like “The Fog.”  And why make the sickle such a big deal when it’s in one minor scene?

Okay, so the house in this one [above] is not the same damned house!!!  And now we see Lauren, or some other psycho chick, with the sickle as if this was some female psycho-killer movie.

This one, AGAIN, is showing the wrong house!  And what’s with the demon hand holding the candle?  We have no demons or monsters in this.  Just panty-geists.  What’s with the evil serpentine eyes?  There is so much going on here that has nothing–NOTHING–to do with this movie.  At least there’s no sickle.

Do a GoogleImage search and this may be the least common movie poster you find, yet it’s the most accurate.  People get murdered in a mansion.

I simply included this in case anyone wanted to read a less bitter synopsis of the flick.

Have a good one, people.  That is, unless you watch this.

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