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John’s Horror Corner: The Horror Show (1989; aka House 3), this mock-NOES sequel feels nothing like a House sequel… but I like it anyway.

October 9, 2021

MY CALL:  This wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected. In fact, it wasn’t bad at all! Very enjoyable with solid special effects and a decently made Freddy-esque 80s boogeyman movie. MORE MOVIES LIKE The Horror ShowIf you watched this thinking it was House 3, then I assume you saw House (1986) and House II: The Second Story (1987). For more “Electric Chair” horror, try Shocker (1989), Tales from the Crypt, Season 1 (1989) and Prison (1987). But more than anything I’d liken this movie to A Nightmare on Elm Street parts 3-5 (1987-1989).

With a head cooking in a diner fryer, another plated for a meal, a screaming severed head, and cop with his arms chopped off to bloody stumps crying that he did his best, this movie uses goofy gore gags while telling its story with a mostly straight face as Detective McCarthy (Lance Henriksen; Man’s Best Friend, The Visitor, Pumpkinhead, Harbinger Down, Hellraiser VIII, Near Dark, Piranha II) hunts down the serial killer Meat Cleaver Max (Brion James; Tango & Cash, The Fifth Element, Nemesis).

Traumatized by Max’s very existence, McCarthy attends his electric chair execution, which is wild and gory down to pulsating skin from boiling blood (like, think Scanners finale). But after the killer is taken down, McCarthy continues to suffer nightmares and paranoia.

After receiving some unbelievable warnings from a parapsychology professor (Thom Bray; The Prowler, Prince of Darkness, DeepStar Six) with some crazy ideas that Max is somehow not gone for good, McCarthy tries to get on with his life. But hungry for revenge from beyond the grave, Max comes back using the very electricity that cooked him in the chair.

The special effects are actually pretty good! The cleaver wounds are gaping and fleshy, the blood is abundant, and then there was the dinner scene. The dinner scene is something straight out of a Freddy sequel (e.g., The Dream Child). The effects for this scene are a bit hokey, but delightful in an 80s kind of way as a turkey grows tendrils and has an unnervingly off-center human face (of Max) on the side of the turkey head which giggles at McCarthy tauntingly.

I’m a bit confused as to the association between this movie and the House movies, unless it was only to garner sales overseas using the popular predecessors in name alone. Probably just the marketing people, I guess. But as dissimilar as it is to House (1986), Wes Craven’s DNA abounds in this movie. Likewise in sync with Freddy, Max appears amidst a TV program heckling McCarthy, Max is basically a boogeyman returning from the dead for his revenge against his condemners and their children, and there are several scenes focused on a basement wood-burning furnace. There’s even the classic Freddy’s-face-pushing-through pregnancy scene as we saw in early NOES movies through the wall (part 1), stomach (part 2) and TV (part 3). Director James Isaac’s (Pig Hunt, Skinwalkers, Jason X) NOES influences are worn proudly on his sleeve. There’s even a little jingle they play that sounds like the NOES jingle.

This wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected. In fact, it wasn’t bad at all! I quite enjoyed it. Nothing epic, but a very enjoyable and decently made Freddy-esque 80s horror movie. Truly, it would make a good double feature with any of NOES 3-5.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. rdfranciswriter permalink
    October 10, 2021 4:19 pm

    To me, sticking the “House” name on it, ruined the film’s potential. I shrugged at first, but Brion and Lance. I went for it. And was glad I did.

    And I DID NOT need a GIF of the chicken. I did not. But there it is.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      October 10, 2021 5:12 pm

      LMAO!!!! That chicken gif was what got me to buy the movie–that gif alone. I knew I HAD to see the movie right then!

      And yes, I essentially treated this as a non-House movie and, glad I did. Very enjoyable.

      • rdfranciswriter permalink
        October 10, 2021 6:30 pm

        Yeah. That friggin’ chicken sells it. The days of practical in-camera effects: RIP.

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