House (1985) – IMDb


A true product of the 80s, but does that mean its anything less or far more… I don’t know but I had trouble not getting caught up in its irresistibly off-kilter charm and patchwork ideas. I truly have a soft spot for it. Yeah it’s a mess, a clueless and incoherent one. However it’s goofy nature, vivid visual effects and willing performances lend very well to a competent looking production… yeah so what if those Vietnam flashbacks looked hokey and it’s origins are cheap. This was the third film under the belt of director Steve Miner, who a couple years earlier brought us the raw, opening sequels ‘Friday the 13th’ Part 2 and 3′.

Miner is joined by producer Sean S. Cunningham, the man behind the original ‘Friday the 13th’. This time it’s far from chilling (but it doesn’t feel like its trying either… well there are moments, lightly done though), as the angle is focused on the comedy, even if it doesn’t have you constantly laughing out loud. It remains amusing nonetheless, while managing to be unpredictable in a way. We’ve flooded with ideas, artistic lashings and loose writing. William Katt makes for a likable victim, to his worrying state of thinking his going crazy due to the traumatic stress (war experience, missing child and marriage failure) or maybe it’s the house and its dark, devious secrets preying upon his fragile mind.

Roger Cobb is a Vietnam VET/ horror novelist that has tragedy on mind after the strange disappearance of his son Jimmy when visiting his aunt’s house. His obsessive quest on finding him takes on a huge toll on his marriage, as his wife leaves him and now he wants to write a book about his Vietnam experience despite the growing success of his horror novels. After the death of his aunt, he heads back to the house and decides this is where he would write his new book. However he finds out there’s more to this house, and maybe a chance to find his son again.

Sounds like the typical haunted house shenanigans… Well to a point. There are monsters (creative animation/ rubber make-up and the zombie soldier design looks awesome) stemming from portals to other universes through closet doors and bathroom mirrors. In the end I guess there just wasn’t enough of it, compared to its boundless sequel ‘House II: The Second Story’. The psychological aspect (yes it tries) is muddled and never truly explored; because it lets the daftness and convoluted tone take control of anything of importance through its Vietnam slant. Miner keeps a steady pace, drawing some minor moments of suspense and unhinged weirdness. The direction can feel a little too staged, and planned out in its set-pieces due to its change in shifts. Although the execution comes off better than it probably should have and is fairly presentable, as just look Mac Ahlberg’s polished cinematography as the camera seamlessly glides through the set-pieces and Harry Manfredini’s score is elastically piercing in its perky arrangement.

Like I mentioned up further, Katt brings along an honest and capable performance. Around him is a down-to-earth turn by George Wendt. Who is good fun as Cobb’s interfering neighbour. The stunning Kay Lenz doesn’t get a lot to do, but her warm presence doesn’t look out of place and Richard Moll is imposing as Cobb’s Nam buddy. The beauty of Mary Stavin engulfs the few scenes she’s in. Another asset you could say, and just as part of the film’s character is the house itself. A formidable setting, but it didn’t entirely have the lasting impact like I would’ve hoped and that’s why the atmosphere (quite patchy) across the board didn’t always have the same effect.

Loony, spontaneous comedy/horror that doesn’t entirely hit the mark, but does plenty to tweak ones interest.

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