29 March 2017

ARROW VIDEO PRESENTS: HOUSE: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.




HOUSE: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION OF CULT HORROR FILMS FROM 1986-1992.
ALL PRODUCED BY SEAN S. CUNNINGHAM. MUSIC BY HARRY MANFREDINI.
STARRING WILLIAM KATT, GEORGE WENDT, ROYAL DANO, JOHN RATZENBERGER, LANCE HENRIKSEN, BRION JAMES, DEDEE PFEIFFER, TERRI TREAS AND DABBS GREER.
STUNT CO-ORDINATOR: KANE HODDER. YES, THAT KANE HODDER...!
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This collection of cult horror films from the 'Eighties is probably the release of the year for horror fans, and it's not even flippin' Halloween yet...! I was thrilled to be given these to review, not least because I'd been expecting them to be the drama series starring the hilarious Hugh Laurie as a grumpy medic. Not that I wouldn't want to watch that, it's just that some absolutely madcap 'Eighties cult horror is a bit more what the doctor ordered this week.

The series contains four films, all made between 1986 and 1992, and ARROW VIDEO is releasing the whole kit and kaboodle this week in a magnificent Dual Format set. But let's leave the hard sell aside for now and have a look at the plots of the four films.

By the way, as if you haven't guessed, the movies all revolve around hauntings that take place in different spooky houses, and each film is unique, terrifically funny and positively bat-shit crazy. Let's zoom in and take a closer look...

The original HOUSE movie sees familiar American actor William Katt taking possession of a marvellously ancient and obviously haunted house in which his elderly Aunt recently committed suicide. He's a successful horror writer called Roger Cobb and he's suffering a bit from writer's block. 

He has a burning desire to scribble about his time in the Vietnam War, even though his agent tells him that books about 'Nam are all played out. He's determined to go ahead with it, though. He holes up in the house and tries to write...

Well, you just know that weird stuff is gonna happen to Roger. The house is populated with monsters and gremlins and levitating garden tools (you heard me!), plus it also has the power to drag Roger back into his Vietnam nightmare, in which it's clear that Roger has unfinished business. Guilty about a colleague he failed to help back in the steamy jungles of 'Nam, Roger is horrified when he comes face-to-face with the ghostly Marine who's now looking for revenge...

All the women in this flick- Roger's ex-wife and his sexy new neighbour- look like Farrah Fawcett. That's just an observation. This film reminded me of the dramatisation of Stephen King's book, BAG OF BONES, in which handsome Irish actor Pierce Brosnan plays a writer, also suffering from writer's block, who holes up in a haunted house to try to write while getting over the death of his beloved missus. He pretty soon hooks up with the drop-dead gorgeous Melissa George, though, so I wouldn't feel too sorry for him.

George Wendt, otherwise known as Norm from 'Eighties sitcom CHEERS, does a great job as Harold, Roger's inquisitive new neighbour. Ignoring Roger's request for writerly 'solitude,' he sticks his nose just a tad too far into Roger's business and finds out that the house's supernatural residents are even less welcoming than the house's new owner...

The second instalment in the HOUSE quartet, HOUSE 2: THE SECOND STORY, is completely and utterly off its head. Zombie cowboys come back from the dead and slug it out for the ownership of a crystal skull (that might sound a bit familiar to fans of the INDIANA JONES movies!) when a man moves into the house where his parents were mysteriously murdered a few years ago.

The main zombie cowboy, called Gramps as he's the great-great-grandfather and namesake of the house's new owner, Jesse, reveals that the house is actually a Mayan temple and that each of its rooms act as doorways across space and time. Cuckoo...!

It's actually true, though. The Western genre and the whole Ancient Mayans thing come together in the wackiest, zaniest and craziest instalment in the HOUSE series. The funniest bit in the whole damn quartet is when John Ratzenberger from CHEERS (CHEERS again!), playing an electrician, discovers an 'alternate universe' while mucking about on a job in the gaff and is completely unfazed by its presence in the house. In fact, he even says:

'Yeah, it's one of those time-portal things all right, you get 'em all the time in these old houses...!'

This film is made even more interesting by the fact that a certain Kane Hodder was the stunt co-ordinator and also performed some of the stunts himself. If that's not a claim to fame, I don't know what is, haha.

No-one from CHEERS stars in the last two films, although that didn't stop me keeping a hopeful eye out for Sam, Diane, Woody and Carla as the movies played out. HOUSE 3 is called THE HORROR SHOW and it features sexy actor Lance Henriksen as a cop tormented by the ghost of a vicious criminal he sends to the electric chair. It's a brilliant concept and it works really well here.

The film reminds me of CAPE FEAR, in which a prosecutor is harassed by a living ex-con he helped to put away for several years. The criminal is even called Max in both cases: Max Cady in CAPE FEAR and Max 'Meat Cleaver' Jenke in HOUSE. 

In HOUSE 3, the ghost of the nasty supernatural criminal pops up everywhere in the lives of both the copper, Lucas McCarthy and, more disturbingly, his teenage daughter Bonnie. (Again the similarity with CAPE FEAR.)

If Lucas can't destroy Max Jenke's spirit permanently, then he may just lose his wife, his son and his daughter forever. A showdown in a power plant (no sign of Smithers and Mr. Burns, though!) is bloody, spectacular and decisive.

Will the deranged serial killer who came back from the grave to get revenge on Lucas and his family be sent back to the fiery depths of hell from which he came? We'll have to see... By the way, Kane Hodder acted as stunt co-ordinator here too, a credit which would surely classy up any film in which it appeared.

HOUSE 4: THE RE-POSSESSION sees the return of Roger Cobb, the horror writer from the first film. He's back with a brand new second family, and clearly he didn't learn much from his stint in the original film, as we'll see. He's refusing to sell the family home, a house which has 'haunted as f**k' practically written all over it, to his stepbrother Burke.

Burke has a deadly ulterior movie for wanting to buy the house, though. So when responsibility for the house falls to Roger's wife Kelly (Terri Treas from JAGGED EDGE and SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS), she's just as determined as Roger was to make a go of living in the house. Until the house starts acting all weird and haunted, that is...

This film features a singing pizza-man and a possessed pizza, some greedy mobsters and a whole posse of Native American spirits, as well as a brief appearance by the Reverend Alden from LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE as Kelly's dear old dad. It's barmy, bonkers and utterly brilliant. What a fitting end to the cultiest and most horrorific of cult horror film box-sets.

Speaking of box-sets (kudos to me for a beautifully seamless segueway!), the whole shooting-match is out on release now courtesy of ARROW VIDEO and FETCH PUBLICITY. It comes with some excellent special features, including a veritable treasure-trove of archive material and THE HOUSE COMPANION, a limited-edition 60-page book featuring new writing on the entire HOUSE franchise by researcher Simon Barber.

As I mentioned earlier, for fans of cult 'Eighties horror/comedy movies, this may well be the release of the year. Whatever you do, don't miss it.


AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

 You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com






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