Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Horror Thoughts ‘13—House (1986) ***

R, 93 min.
Director: Steve Miner
Writers: Fred Dekker, Ethan Wiley
Starring: William Katt, George Wendt, Richard Moll, Kay Lenz, Mary Stavin, Michael Ensign, Erik Silver, Mark Silver, Susan French

It has been a long time since I saw “House”. At the time of its release, I seem to remember that it was kind of revolutionary in the way it mixed horror and humor. In reality, it wasn’t really that revolutionary, since it stole this idea from Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead” to some degree. It shares a good deal in common with Raimi’s vision, including some monster character designs that are surprisingly similar.

I think what made “House” seem so original was that it was somehow a little more mainstream accessible than Raimi and his inspirations. It was a bit of a sleeper hit at the time, as I remember. The producers felt the need to capitalize on their surprise success with a sequel the following year. I doubt it was expected to be incredibly successful, as William Katt’s star had fallen as a film star due to the failure of his television show “The Greatest American Hero”. House was his first acting gig since the cancelation of the show three years earlier. His two co-stars, George Wendt and Richard Moll, were also only known as TV stars, and supporting ones at that. Still, they drew pretty good grosses compared to the film’s budget.

The story follows that ever popular character of eighties horror, the famous writer who is trying to break away from his popular fiction style to write something deeper. This writer is trying to chronicle his Vietnam War experience and trying to get over the disappearance of his son a year earlier that eventually led to his divorce from his famous actress wife. He moves back into his childhood home after his aunt, a surrogate mother to him, has committed suicide. He starts seeing visions that indicate his aunt’s death and possibly his son’s disappearance have something to due with an evil presence in the house.

Re-watching it all these years later, it is less impressive than I remember. It’s kind of uneven in its pace and its balance of humor and horror. It’s still a fun ride, just not as spectacular as I remembered it. “House” will never go down as a classic, but it’s a pretty good example of 80s era b-horror filmmaking. 

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