This weeks nostalgic rental look back is the bonkers horror comedy House (1985)
Tagline – DING DONG. YOU’RE DEAD.
Who’s our hero today?
Stepping up is The Greatest American Hero there ever was, Ralph Hinkley aka William Katt. You know what? I’ve never heard of it. Looks like a fun show. Don’t believe it ever come over to the UK?
Had I seen this one on VHS back in the day?
Yes this was rented along with many other horrors that us teenage boys were watching to try and man up with. The cover artwork with the severed hand made this an essential rental. Where there was a few severed hands and an arm in the film that actual scene doesn’t appear.
Quick plot run down.
An author called Roger Cobb struggles with writers block which we soon find out is the least of his problems. He’s separated from his wife after the disappearance of their son in a swimming pool accident. All this is followed by the news of his aunt committing suicide and leaving him her house. Roger decides that it would be a good place to escape and hopefully find inspiration for his new novel. With flashbacks to his past and a house that isn’t what it seems, Roger is about to have the state of his mind but on trial.
Does the hero have a day job?
Roger Cobb (William Katt) is a successful horror thriller writer. Unfortunately his last novel called Blood Dance came with the loss of his son and the pending divorce of his actress wife, Sandy Sinclair (Kay Lenz). Roger finds himself saddled with writers block. His fans are eager for more thrills and his pushy publisher tries to spur him on to write more. Roger decides to revisit his old traumatic Vietnam War days as inspiration for a new book. With his mind filled with dread, Valium and bouts of PTSD he soldiers on.
What’s our heroes special skills?
To be fair to Roger his Vietnam days bring him great bravery. At first freaked out and scared by the crazy spooky freaks that come out of the woodwork. It doesn’t take him long to brave his way to taking the fight on to whatever paranormal horror the house throws at him.
Heroes weapon of choice?
Harpoon, shotgun, hand grenade, determination.
Heroes drink of choice?
As long as he can knock his Valium back with something he doesn’t really mind. He does have a familiar faced friend who keeps popping round with the beers. See next.
Does hero have a sidekick?
He’s got a trusty neighbour ready to prop up the bar with a case of emergency Miller Lite cans. Yep that is George Wendt from Cheers fame playing Roger’s friend Harold.
Hot girl? Damsel in distress or ass kicker?
No ass kicking lady or damsel in distress in House but two pretty girls are thrown into the story for good measure. Roger’s ex-wife Sandy Sinclair (Kay Lenz) is an in demand actress in the process of recording a film. And then there’s Swedish Tanya (Mary Stavin) jogging past in her tight lycra outfit ready for some flirting. If it wasn’t for burying moving body parts in the garden our Roger might of been more interested.
Who’s the main baddie?
Well that’s the House itself! Always ready with a new batch of wacko outlandish monsters to unleash on the unexpected Roger and us the viewer.
Baddies special skills?
The house is relentless. Constantly ready to throw unexpected freakish and unnatural bat-shit crazy stuff at our hero.
Aunt Elizabeth – “It won Roger. It tricked me. I didn’t think it could, but it did. It’s going to trick you too, Roger. This house knows everything about you. Leave while you can!“
Psycho baddies rating out of ten? 8/10
Well I’d of ran straight out the door with the first squeaky floor board but then the house keeps ramping up the mayhem,
Heroes balls of steel and anger ratings out of ten? 9/10
You gotta give it to Roger, he is determined to fight for his house. Ready to take on whatever freaky ghoulish apparition that comes bounding towards him.
Surely it features a training montage scene?
Not on today’s nostalgic revisit. Though you could say the Vietnam flashbacks train him up throughout his ordeal.
Does it feature an impossible mission?
If climbing through a mirrored bathroom wall cabinet into the unknown darkness of the abyss with a flying skull headed bat wielding a shotgun is considered part of an impossible mission? Then yeah.
Does the hero get a chance to show off their muscles?
Roger struts around with one of the deepest V jumpers you could wear.
Will I be needing to pause the video player? AKA are there any boobies?
Get the tissues ready guys…………… for your tears! There’s nothing on show! Zero, zip, zilch, nada!
No such luck here though a flirty neighbour from across the street has her eyes on Roger. “I can tell when a man wants to work. I can also tell when a man wants to play.” However it turns out she ain’t after nooky but a baby sitter!
Any good totally random surprise scenes?
HAHA too many. A Kraken in the bathroom medicine cabinet? Norm Peterson from Cheers! A giant breasted gargoyle looking zombie thing! No not Norm Peterson you cheeky lot!!!!!
Films body count? Low/Medium/High?
A lot lower than you would imagine.
Best death scene?
I’ll have to go with floating, flying, killer, garden tools and beheading by hedge trimming shears.
Explosion ratio? Low/Medium/High?
Low but a cheeky hand grenade stuck in the innards and gizzards of a decomposing man makes for a pretty spectacular explosion.
How many stuntmen probably really died making this film?
A little toddler stunt man gets his arms and legs stretched by some freaky looking ghouls up a chimney. Most probably traumatised for life! Luckily I read that the kid was the director, Steve Miner’s own son. He did look like he was laughing a fair bit so hopefully he’s not rocking in some corner surrounded by empty bottles of whisky 35 years later?
Harold – “Hey, it’s great to have a new neighbor. Woman lived here before you was nuts. Biggest bitch under the sun. Just a senile old hag really. Wouldn’t be surprised if someone just got fed up and offed her. Know what I mean?“
Roger – “She was my aunt.“
Harold – “Heart of gold though. Just uh, a saint really. And uh such a beautiful woman, for her age.“
Any other familiar faces and actors pop up?
Only a small part from Steven Williams as Cop Number 4 but this guy has popped up all over the place. You will be sure to recognise him as one of the state troopers chasing The Blues Brothers (1980) and another role I remember him a lot for, Mr X in The X-Files. He’s still all over TV and film.
Mary Stavin has been in two James Bond films with Roger Moore. She played Kimberley Jones in A View to a Kill (1985) and one of Octopussy Girls in Octopussy (1983) Some of her other claims to fame are, she was Miss World in 1977 and starred in two Adam and the Ants music videos. Ant Rap and Strip. Plus she did a dodgy workout record with footballer George Best.
House is directed by Steve Miner who made the two Jason films with Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) and Friday the 13th Part III (1982). It wasn’t all horror, he did sappy too. He’d made the Mel Gibson film where the WW2 pilot wakes up in 1992 called Forever Young (1992). Plus it doesn’t get a great review but I always liked his 1999 horror Lake Placid with Oliver Platt.
One of the writers is Fred Dekker who direct Night of the Creeps (1986) and The Monster Squad (1987). Ethan Wiley worked on the screenplay and would write and direct the sequel, House II: The Second Story (1987).
The special effects and makeup artists had a field day with the monsters. Seven unique creature running rampant around the house. One puppet called the war demon measured 18ft and had to be operated by around 15 people. The creature productions are what make the film to be honest.
Because it’s a comedy the Cheese-O-Meter doesn’t really apply so I’d say it’s low. The cheese is part of the fun.
IMDB score rating – 6.2/10
Wolfman ACTION & FUN rating – 8.5/10
Wolfman over all film rating – 7.5/10
This was so much entertainment for me to revisit. Since first seeing it in my early teens I had always promised myself I’d see it again. I got there 34 years later! It was great that I hadn’t remembered much. So when the freaks come out at night, and the daylight, it still had me hollering. I’ve purposely not added images of the creatures as they make up most of the films fun. OK the story ain’t all that but that’s made up for in it’s pure bonkers execution. Did you like this back in the day? Let me know if you wish.
Feel free to let me know your thoughts on the film if you want. But most importantly have fun with the movies.
Keep it filmy…. Mikey Wolf.