House (1986)

house-1986Ding Dong. You’re dead.

How have I never seen this little gem! Growing up, I would walk up and down the aisles of Blockbuster, looking for horror movies I hadn’t seen before. I know I’ve seen the cover of this one many times in the past, and assumed I had seen it but just didn’t remember it. But I really think I would have remembered this fun horror flick.

This director is known for other horror thrillers like Halloween H2O and Friday the 13th Part 2 and 3. As you can imagine, this is definitely not a high caliber film but gratifying if you know what you are getting into. This movie is comparable to other campy 80’s horror and reminds me a lot of lesser versions of cult classics like Dead Alive (aka Braindead) and Evil Dead II.

I liked the main character immediately. Roger is a Vietnam War veteran. Returning back to normal life, he finds himself a successful novelist. But things take a turn for the worst when his son disappears, ultimately causing the divorce between him and his beautiful actress wife. Roger retreats to the home of his late aunt (who apparently has committed suicide by hanging), hoping to seek solitude and get some writing done. The film takes the plot back and forth, from present to past, an aspect I really enjoy. Though the war scenes are pretty cheesy with poor quality effects, it gives good insight into the character, Roger.

house-movie-1986-william-kattRoger starts seeing ghostly images of his aunt and son. But for some reason he doesn’t seem that alarmed. I would have a much stronger reaction to something like that. But, he is a war vet. Could this be PTSD? Roger puts on his army fatigues, carrying a gun, preparing for “battle” against the ghosts and monsters lurking around the house. Paranoia is seeping from Roger’s pores. He doesn’t even trust his friendly neighbor, Harold, played by the iconic George Wendt. Maybe too much solitude is a bad thing.

His ex-wife shows up after Harold places a concerned phone call. She turns into an ugly, fat monster with a squealing laugh (quite humorous actually) and Roger freaks out and kills her with a shotgun. The monster version of his wife, along with other peculiar and bizarre creatures, keep appearing and taunting Roger about his missing son. The monsters remind me of the clowns from Killer Klowns from Outer Space– creepy and animated looking. I thought the scares might start becoming repetitive, but it stayed fresh and entertaining.

house 1986All of these factors- war, son disappearing, divorce, his aunt dying- start to add up. And now, Roger thinks the house is haunted. He has got to be losing some marbles by now. Is it him or the house? The film does a great job of making the audience question what is reality and what is fiction. It is a fine line between truth and insanity. In the end though, well… you will just have to see for yourself.

I hated the outcome, but there are too many redeeming factors to hate the film as a whole. Though an obviously low budget film, the attention to detail definitely warrants some praise. At the beginning of the movie there is a For Sale sign on the house by Craven Realty. I imagine this to be suggestive of director, Wes Craven- the horror king of all kings. The minor characters in this film are also memorable for their notable and obnoxiously wonderful 80’s attire. This isn’t a thought-provoking film. It’s just fun to watch and very Peter Jackson-esque (circa 1980’s). Full of dark humor and creative monsters, this would have scared the crap out of me as a kid.

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House (1986) on IMDb

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