Horror is one of my favorite genres, mostly due to my Father’s influence at a young age. He loved horror, horror stories, horror movies, everything scary was adored in our home. One movie that frightened but delighted me was the movie House from 1986.
Today’s Key Movie:
House stars William Katt (Greatest American Hero) as a troubled writer who, after the disappearance of his son and suicide of his Aunt, moves into his family home where faces the demons that come with it. Also starring Richard Moll (Night Court) and George Wendt (Cheers) this movie is the epitome of 80’s horror.
Why this movie?
The 80’s were filled with horror films. This was the decade that brought about Freddy Krueger, Jason Vorhees and many others but there were solo films that set the tone of real horror for the time. House was one of those films.
This was a VHS rental for us. I remember seeing it on the shelves of the local video store, the cover depicting a rotting skeletal hand ringing the doorbell. I remember the tagline on the VHS box, “Ding Dong, You’re Dead”.
The film itself is a haunted house story where the ghosts are more than just in his mind. The house he moves back into is not only the house he grew up in but also happens to be the one his son disappeared at. Due to the loss of both his son and the aunt who raised him, he is broken and is desperate to finish his book to help come to terms with everything in his life. The thing that really sets this one apart is that it is able to blend bits of humor in with the horror but in ways that do not feel out of place. Much of this work is due to the writer Fred Dekker who would later create the classics, Night of the Creeps and Monster Squad. Dekker’s storytelling is always absolutely solid.
How did this translate to real life?
As I have said before, growing up Horror was a key staple in our lives. In fact, ghosts and hauntings were as well. My father would tell us stories of strange things that had happened to him as a child, from ghosts attacking his car to things floating over their bed. My mom even worked briefly as a nurse at the Waverly Hills Sanitarium, so that should tell you how creepy we were.
As I grew up, ghosts and the supernatural were not thought of as fiction, they were part of everyday life. I have seen many creepy things in my life that I can not explain, maybe I will share them here with you one day, but for now we’ll stay with the movie.
Okay, you like this film, but is it really a ‘good film’?
I probably watched this film dozens of times in my life and I still find it amazingly enjoyable. The movie isn’t a triple-A film at all, if you were to give it a rating I would say a solid A- and man is it well produced. The actors are on top of their game and the effects are really cool. To me, yes, this is a ‘Good” film, it’s not great, but it is certainly good.
Even the music fits well, with creepy music box tunes, haunting grandfather clock chimes and the flare of the occasional crescendo, the music is almost a character of its own.
Having been a fan of the tv series, Greatest American Hero, I loved William Katt. The fact that he was in a horror film made it all the better. Then discovering that Richard Moll and George Wendt were in it made it almost a must see. Three tv stars from three of my favorite tv series, how could I not like it.
One thing that stands out is that this movies didn’t fall into the typical Haunted House tropes. You never see traditional transparent ghosts. Everything you see and hear can be interpreted as real on many occasions only to leave you doubting that it was. The House itself is a character that torments the characters and that in itself is amazing. This isn’t Amityville, this is special.
OK, where do I get this movie?
You can pick this one up digitally and sometimes find it cheap on DVD in the bargain bin. I was able to locate a copy of House and the sequel House 2: The Second Story (yes…pun intended) at a yard sale.
This film is available as part of a set with the second film, you can grab one from Amoeba Music for around $15.
I will warn you though, House 2 is straight out a Horror COMEDY with emphasis on the Comedy. It’s a fun movie but no where near as good as the first one. I may review it later just for grins and giggles. There is a 3rd and 4th film. I barely remember the 3rd but the 4th has features the return of Roger Cobb (Katt) and an iconic scene involving a Pizza. Special thanks to a good friend for reminding me of this film and that it was indeed House 4. It is pretty wonderful in its insanity. I have placed an order for the last two films on DVD so I will be doing a full review for the remaining 3 sometime in the future…be warned.
The awesome trailer: (that classic scary narrator and all)
Late To The Game 10/20/18
If you would like to read more reviews please check out the rest of the Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday.
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