Director: Steve Miner
William Katt/ Roger
Richard Moll/Big Ben
Genre author Robert Cobb (Katt) just can’t catch a break. His son mysteriously vanished, his actress wife dumped his ass and his aunt apparently committed suicide. When he moves into auntie’s place in search of solitude to write his next novel, he finds that peace comes at a high price, when a slew of monsters and ghosts manifest themselves physically out of the house to bust his balls. High rollicking fun times follows!
"Ding, Dong...you're dead"
A little "House" history for your melon: Writer/director Fred Dekker (the man behind the great "Night of the Creeps") once came up with an idea for a story. And I quote: "A guy goes into a house at the beginning…at the end, he comes out and in between is the scariest shit I could ever think of." He even came up for a title for that genius thought, it was called "House".
Being too lazy to actually write the screenplay at the time, he let his friend and fellow screenwriter, Ethan Wiley have a crack at it. Boy, was Fred surprised when at the end of it all, Ethan handed him a horror comedy as opposed to the hardcore horror flick he had in mind. When the dust cleared, producer Sean Cunningham (of Friday the 13th fame) loved the piece and found the financing. Steve Miner (of 'H20" infamy) directed it and Fred Dekker got a story credit. Although "House" didn’t end up being the film that Dekker had in mind, it still wound up being quite the ride in its own right. It was actually one of “New World Pictures” (now defunct) highest grossing film in terms of box-office returns. Having just finished re-watching the flick myself (I hadn’t seen it in ages), I was reminded as to why "House" is simply one hell of a fun freaking times movie.
"House" was an energetic “speed freak” highly-creative horror bachelor party that paralleled the infectious rush you get when cruising through a gnarly Haunted House ride at an amusement park. At every corner, there was a surprise (the Vietnam angle owned), at every corner ,the rules were bent or broken, at every corner, there was either a hefty giggle at the hands of circumstantial humor (I so laughed my ass off) or a good scare prompted by the various beasties in the house. I was tap-dancing on my damn sofa and I just didn’t want to leave that HOUSE! It sure helped that the amazing cast at play was in tip-top form. William Katt carried the film like a pro with able support by "Cheers" alum George Wendt (NORM!!!!!) at his big lug loveable best. The actors themselves were backed by a highly clever screenplay that punched in witty lines and insane situations left, right and center. You want a side order of onion rings with that? Didn’t think so!
Horror wise, "House" displayed some endearingly grim atmosphere (loved those exterior shots of the house) and got me a few times with its potent boo scares. I actually nearly flew through my roof when the first “closet” incident occurred. Good shit, Batman! The same can be said about some of the memorable monsters found in this trippy circus. Who can forget the inflated psycho hag from hell? I sure couldn’t. Actually, she looked kind of familiar…mmm… But I digress. The most memorable baddie of all, in terms of design and scare factor, had to be the undead soldier. That decaying Zombie face, that battered uniform, the detachable arm…what’s not to love?
On the slight downside, the film's narrative was kind of vague when it came to its supernatural occurrences rules (there were no rules!) I guess that’s the price you pay to see a flick run wholeheartedly with its zany premise. Lastly, some of the creature effects weren’t up to par when compared to other ones. Those chimney crawling buggers, for example, were obviously dudes in Halloween masks. Good looking Halloween masks, but Halloween masks nonetheless.
But overall, "House" was a wacky, crazy, slickly directed and incredibly entertaining piece of candy that sucked me in with its opening and only let me out, with a big fat smile on my face when the end credits rolled. MOVE INTO THIS HOUSE AND FALL IN LOVE WITH IT.
There is some ugliness in this shack with a cut off head, a severed arm, a cut off hand, a blown up baddie, an ugly fat hag and that horrible beige V neck sweater that William Katt wore. Dude, what was that shirt all about? Can the V Neck go any lower? I swear I almost saw his balls pop out of his collar. EASY CHAMP!
William Katt (Roger) held his own and carried the film, competently communicating his character's sadness, anguish and slight descent into madness. George Wendt (Harold) stole the show many times and had all the best lines. The man is a genius when it comes to underplaying for full effect. Loved him! Richard Moll (Big Ben) made me forget the dumbo “Bull” he played on TV’s “Night Court” and that in itself was a statement on his performance. He made for a good “nut job”. Both Kay Lenz (Sandy) and Mary Stavin (Tanya) did fine within the limited screen time they were given.
T & A
The ladies get William Katt’s impeccable curly hair, while we get Mary Stavin (Tanya) in a bathing suit. Baby got back, but munchable back...if you know what I mean.
Steve Miner used to have his horror mojo on with admirable jobs on "Friday the 13th: Part 2" and "Part 3" and of course, "House". Throughout this film, I could feel a personal visual stamp via kool shots, slick angles, well staged scare sequences and able cinematography. I haven’t felt that stamp in his later “blah” efforts "H20" and "Lake Placid". Get your genre mojo back, Miner! We miss ya!
The Harry Manfredini score often sounded like his "Friday the 13th" score. Yes…it rocked! I also loved how the film played some old school rock songs against grim scenarios to evoke yuk-yuks. Well done!
"House" is a horror/comedy that pulled off its juggling act to a T a U and a V. It smacked down a fast-paced genre delight, bringing in truckloads of groovy ghouls and genuine giggles for our viewing pleasure. Sure, the flick did get ahead of itself in terms of its supernatural elements, but what can you do? It tossed everything at us at the expense of logic and I gladly took it all and relished it. Thank you "House" for one hell of an entertaining night! I haven’t had this much fun alone at home since “Where the Boy’s Aren’t Part 14” played on Pay-TV. I’ll be revisiting this classic (I said it) real soon and so should you!
Was that a young Steven Williams ("Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday") playing one of the cops? You bet it was! I LOVE THAT GUY!
Screenwriter Ethan Whiley went on to direct "House 2".
Although enjoyable, "House 2" was too childish for my taste, "House 3" was known as “The Horror Show” in the US (I dug it) and "House 4" saw William Katt return briefly. The film itself was mediocre.