Director – Steve Miner
Cast – William Katt, George Wendt, Richard Moll, Kay Lenz, Mary Stavin, Michael Ensign, Erik Silver, Mark Silver, Susan French
Release Year – 1986
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I knew I saw this film as a kid but honestly remembered absolutely nothing about it and figured it was time to refresh my memory given this being a notable 80s horror film. While I did not really know what to expect I did expect to enjoy this piece and thanks to its heavy usage of re-animated corpses and Steve Miner’s direction I received what I wanted from this experience – one that includes the usual 80s horror elements that we love so much. Coming off comical and zany in the vein of The Evil Dead, House makes for a fun experience not meant to be taken seriously but one that sure enough provides good horror and spooks.
When Vietnam veteran / horror novelist Roger Cobb’s young son disappears while visiting Roger’s aunt his life is thrown into shambles – losing his wife and ruining his writing career. When Roger’s aunt dies in mysterious fashion, in the very house she herself said was haunted, Roger moves in in hopes of finding the solitude needed to write a new book and revamp his life. However, soon after moving into the home he learns that his aunt was far from crazy and that the same spirits that drove her to her death will do the same to Roger.
I really do love films like this one. While I did not absolutely love House I loved the look and feel it brought with it. You should know by now that I love films that involve the supernatural as well as those that employ a character moving into a new home and suffering the consequences of the secrets it harbors. We get both of those elements used very well in this piece and it does not take long for the carnage to get going. Night of the Creeps and The Monster Squad writer/director Fred Dekker came up with this story, later scripted by Ethan Wiley in his debut writing effort, and gave us plenty of awesome and gory antics that left me enjoying this more than I expected to. Things start off a little slow at first but it does not take long for Roger to make his way into the home and almost immediately after setting foot in the place he is bombarded with the demons and spirits possessing the home he once grew up in. We get plenty of monster and creature action, which I adored, however what really surprised me was how crafty the spirits were in bringing up the darkest moments of Roger’s life and manifesting them before him in an effort to bring back his personal demons that have always haunted him within his mind, except now they are appearing before him in violent fashion. Once things get going the story paces well and continually provides good horror until the end credits roll.
Friday the 13th Part 2 (the best one) and Friday the 13th Part III director Steve Miner followed these solid efforts with this piece, solidifying himself as one of the best early-80s horror directors and eventually one of the best of all time thanks to the enjoyable films of his latter years (Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, Lake Placid). From the get-go we are thrown into awesome atmosphere that comes off a bit comical due to the tranquility of the neighborhood the house is located in that heavily contrasts with the events going on inside in, events Roger Hobbs would have liked to avoid. The horror Steve Miner provides is great and includes numerous instances of life-action creature FX that were downright spooky and awesome to watch as well, which as I mentioned earlier came off with a slightly silly feel much like that displayed in The Evil Dead. I really marveled at the look of the creatures, which were downright horrifying and used greatly in their mannerisms. We get good performances from all involved and the musical score replicates the heinous events going on within the home, a home I am glad I did not grow up in.
Overall, House is a fun 80s horror feast that provides plenty of good horror via live-action creature action and re-animation that made for enjoyable horror sure to please fans of these types of films. The execution is a bit silly at times, which only added to the fun, and in the end this low-budget effort proved to be another solid horror experience from a veteran genre director incepted by the mind of Fred Dekker.