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John’s Old School Horror Corner: House (1986), good for childhood nostalgia and goofy monster effects but certainly not scary

November 12, 2012

MY CALL:  Boring, dumb, random…but it comes with a few giggles.  Unless this is a childhood nostalgia movie for you, I’d suggest skipping it.  IF YOU LIKE THIS WATCH:  I like “house” movies, but I prefer they take themselves more seriously like in The Amityville Horror (1979, 2005), the short from V/H/S (2012), Grave Encounters (2011) or Poltergeist (1982).  Even Paranormal Activity 2 (2010), although we later learn it’s less of a “house” movie and more of an evil spirit movie.

Roger (William Katt; Carrie, House IV, Mirrors 2), a divorced and son-bereft writer hitting a slow point in his career, moves into his aunt’s house after her suicide.  This transition calls difficult memories as his son disappeared while he had lived in the house years earlier and his aunt had suspected that “the house took him.”  He also has visions of his aunt warning him about the house.  Uninteresting visions of his son and his time in Vietnam also punctuate the slow-paced fist act of the story.

Whether it’s The Nesting, The Amityville Horror, The House on Haunted Hill, Night of the Demons, The Haunting, The Shining or this…ALL “house” movies simply MUST take place in a really big house.  After all, no one wants to watch a movie about a haunted 1200 square foot 2 bed/2 bath now do they?  Nope, we want a BIG house.  Even season one of An American Horror Story–really big house!

The first hint of remote interest comes when he opens a gate to the unknown (i.e., a bedroom closet door) after midnight and an amorphous monster attacks him.  As his next door neighbor gets nosy, a mounted swordfish comes to life, his tools become telekinetically homicidal and the house fools him into killing his ex-wife (appearing as a bloated slimy demon), things still feel slow and random—bordering on boring.

About halfway through the movie the soundtrack marks a significant tone shift to something somewhat silly.  We meet Roger’s beguiling neighborhood fox (Mary Stavin; Octopussy, A View to a Kill) who, I feel, is only in this movie so that the director could show us her body in a swimsuit.  She dumps her son on Roger to babysit.  Of course, two super-ugly house demons try to steal him.

 Scariest monster in any closet ever!

Why Roger doesn’t take stock of the situation and sell this evil house and forget about it is beyond me.  He simply tries to “deal with it” as if it were a domestic nuisance.  I guess he wants his son back.  What about hiring a medium?  Nah.  He’s a writer and a veteran; he’s got this.

Later he enlists his nosy neighbor’s help to ambush the closet monster.  This goes very poorly and Roger is dragged into the closet and then apparently into the tropical forests of Vietnam where he bumps into an old ‘Nam buddy of his before being vomited back into his spare bedroom.  Did that sentence make sense?  Well, neither does this movie!

Continuing the search for his son, Roger creates a portal out of his bathroom medicine cabinet and is swiftly attacked by a tentacle monster.  Unphased by the attack, Roger crawls into this alternate dimension and finds his son in a bamboo cage in a tropical swamp.  He rescues his son and somehow finds himself in his swimming pool.  Did that make sense?  Still no?

Okay, now let’s make sense of this.  You see, his undead ‘Nam buddy kidnapped his son to exact his revenge for not killing him when he was suffering during their war tour.  Roger defeats this 6’6” war-seasoned soldier zombie with his cloth belt and a positive attitude.  Pathetic.

So Roger is a hero for “finding” his long lost son and he wins back his ex-wife—who, evidently, he didn’t actually kill earlier in the movie.

Senseless.  But it made me smile here and there.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Tony permalink
    January 23, 2013 8:44 pm

    Roger’s sexy blonde neighbor was delicious in that blue one piece swimsuit, on the DVD I own you could make out her buttcrack during a shot of the suit from behind.

    • Lawe permalink
      August 18, 2017 6:12 am

      It would be great if 99.9% of the people on the internet actually thought before speaking, as that is how many people don’t. At least try to come up with something you would actually say in public. I wonder if your parents are at all proud of you.

  2. June 22, 2015 12:51 pm

    Love reading your thoughts and it is always fascinating reading another viewpoint. Here is the link to my appraisal my friend.

    House (1986)

    • John Leavengood permalink
      June 22, 2015 12:52 pm

      Thanks. Horror can be too random to trust just a single review. Movies, in general, in fact.


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