It's that time again! Halloween time, where we at Bloody Good Horror deliver some of your treats in the form of 'List O' Mania"!
Houses. We all live in them, in one form or another (except Casey - he lives in a cardboard box behind a book store). Our homes makes us feel secure, warm... safe. Yet houses have the ability to be some of the scariest & most unwelcoming places on Earth, either as a shell hiding a horrific past or becoming a living, breathing entity of pure malice - Movies have captured the gauntlet of these spooky houses. So let's look at some of our favorite scary movies with "House" in the title!
Date Released: October 29, 1999; February 17, 1959
Director: William Malone (1999), William Castle (1959)
Cast: (1999)Geoffrey Rush as 'Stephen H. Price', Peter Gallagher as 'Donald W. Blackburn', Peter Graves as Himself
(1959)Vincent Price as 'Frederick Loren', Carol Ohmart as 'Annabelle Loren', Richard Long as 'Lance Schroeder'
The Skinny: I did something a bit different here by listing both the original AND the very loose remake together. The original will always be a timeless classic, a great example of the low budget black & white horror genre that contains both a few thrills & chills as promised. It's further enhanced by a great storyline with real suspense. Price is truly in his element in this one.
I felt the 1999 release was also worth a mention, as it went further than just being a remake. The story was expanded (the ending of the 1959 flick is roughly the half way point in the new version) and made more creepy & disturbing. The gore, while increased, is used well and the film maintains the atmosphere of the original quite well. Perhaps seeing this at such a young age gave it a bigger impact on me than it did on older or more versed film watchers, but it's one that I always remember.
Date: November 1, 2007
Director: Robby Henson
Cast: Lance Henriksen as the voice of 'The Tin Man' & Bill Moseley as 'Stuart'
The Skinny: This is a bizarre & mind warping movie based on the novel by Ted Dekker & Frank Peretti. In it, a troubled couple, heading towards divorce over issues about their dead child and their respective careers, blow off a counseling session and, after an accident, wind up in a strange house where they meet two other guests, as well as the slightly off-balanced proprietors, Pete (this horny SOB scares the crap out of me), his mother Betty & Stuart. The guests are invited to dinner, & the couple takes the hosts as nothing more than a backwoods Alabama family - until a can from the Tin Man is sent down the chimney, stating the house rules: "Welcome to my house. House rules: 1. God came into my house and I killed him. 2. I will kill anyone who comes into my house as I killed God. 3. Give me one dead body and i might let rule two slide. GAME OVER AT DAWN." The couples soon learn the only way out is to confront the horrible secrets & pasts within them... or everyone dies.
Date Released: April 11, 2003
Director: Rob Zombie
Cast: Sid Haig as 'Captain Spaulding', Sheri Moon Zombie as 'Baby', Bill Moseley as 'Otis'
The Skinny: You either loved or hated this film, I've found. There's no room for in between. Two teenage couples, traveling across the backwoods of Texas, searching for urban legends of murder, only to end up as prisoners of a bizarre and sadistic backwater family of serial killers. I think the film was set in the '70s simply because much of the film recaptures the style of horror & thrillers in that era. The strobe effects, hazy, nightmare-ish segments, cinematography that makes the viewer feel like he or she is being drawn into the insanity that the innocent couples must have felt. The film is crude, brutish, disgusting, & gory and apologizes for none of it. Zombie's films are always memorable, even if you hate them.
Date Released: August 30, 1972
Director: Wes Craven
The Skinny: The tale of brutality, rape & revenge was recently remade, but I found the 'new' movie added very little to the original. The story is basically the same: Teenage girls are headed out for the night, & while trying to score some drugs, the girls are kidnapped by a bunch of psychopaths. Perhaps because it offered nothing new, or perhaps there's an argument for how de-sensitized we're becoming, the remake had little, if any, impact, and was quickly out of theaters. In contrast, the original movie was much more shocking & had much more of an impact when it was released. Brutality like this, and used as the focus of horror, had never been seen. This movie, quality arguments aside, was memorable.
Date Released: February 28, 1986
Director: Steve Miner
Cast: William Katt as "Roger Cobb", George Wendt as 'neighbor Harld Gorton', Richard Moll as 'Big Ben'
The Skinny: Now THIS is the 'House' you'll probably recognize, and a perfect example of why I loved horror in the 80s: It's scary, it's funny, it's sometimes bizarre, it's sometimes nonsensical, there's no CGI & doesn't let loose ends get in the way of a good story! Author Roger Cobb, recently divorced Vietnam vet, moves into his recently deceased aunt's house to work on his latest book - the home where he was raised, and also the site of the mysterious disappearance of his son years back. The House begins to let Roger know it resents his presence, and Roger uses clues left from his dead aunt to confront the house and his past. There's also a zombie fish, flying killer tools, a monster in the closet and Norm from Cheers. How can you NOT love it?
Date Released: August 28th, 1987
Director: Ethan Wiley
Cast: Bill Maher as 'John' and John Ratzenberger as "Bill the Electrician Adventurer"
The Skinny: No, this is NOT cheating by adding a sequel! This one is a guilty pleasure of mine. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with the first "House". A totally new house, with new owners that get involved with the reanimated corpse of their long dead great, great, cowboy grandfather (He's a good guy!) to find an ancient Aztec skull with magic powers, in a house that has portals to different times & different dimensions. Oh, there's this absolutely adorable caterpillar puppy creature too - he's so cute!
Date Released: April 28, 2009 (Tribeca Film Festival)
Director: Ti West
The Skinny: In the 1980s, college student Samantha Hughes takes a strange babysitting job that coincides with a full lunar eclipse. She slowly realizes her clients harbor a terrifying secret; they plan to use her in a satanic ritual. I find it neat that a film made in late 2007 takes place in the 1980's because (I'm guessing at this) of the plot. The 1980s were full of 'Satanic scares' - it was like the Red Scare of the 1950s, but in entertaining Satanic form! That aside, while I felt the film started a bit slow & dragged at points, the ending was excellent and the overall movie was quite good.
Date Released: April 10, 1953
Director: André De Toth
Cast: Vincent Price as 'Prof. Henry Jarrod', Frank Lovejoy as 'Lt. Tom Brennan', Charles Bronson as 'Igor'
The Skinny: Professor Henry Jarrod specializes in amazing wax figures of historical significance, but his business partner, Matthew Burke, isn't happy with the money being brought in - he thinks more macabre figures from horror movies or torture chambers that Henry refuses to do would bring in more money. So Matthew sets the place on fire for insurance money, killing Henry in the process. Or so they thought. He returns years later with his own museum, with a very interesting way of creating the figures. Muhahahahaha!!! This is a timeless Vincent Price movie, and we won't insult it by even mentioning the horrendous remake that starred Paris Hilton. That's just not a nice thing to do to the deceased.
Date Released: June 2, 2000
Director: Raja Gosnell
Cast: Martin Lawrence as 'Malcolm Turner/Big Momma', Nia Long as 'Sherry Pierce', Cedric the Entertainer as 'Reverend'
The Skinny: Say what you want - this movie scared the crap out of me. It's the first film to ever scare me so much, I couldn't finish watching it.
Date Released: June 30, 2006
Director: Gil Kenan
Executive Producer: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Steve Buscemi as the voice of 'Nebbercracker', Catherine O'Hara as the voice of 'Mom'
The Skinny: I think we know by now it's perfectly acceptable for adults to watch animated films - they're just as much for us as they are for kids. What caught me by surprise on this film was not how well it was done, but how SCARY it actually is! You can almost imagine yourself being a kid again, and holding your breath to run past THAT one creepy house in your neighborhood. It's just that this one ACTUALLY eats people. Just an all around fun, creepy flick that no one should miss.
Date Released: TODAY (September 21, 2012)
Director: Mark Tonderai
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence as 'Elissa', Max Thieriot as 'Ryan', Gil Bellows as 'Weaver'
The Skinny: A mother and daughter move to a new town and find themselves living next door to a house where a young girl murdered her parents. When the daughter befriends the surviving son, she learns the story is far from over. I've been hearing reviews the run the full spectrum from good to bad - which is it? I'm not sure - go see it, or keep an eye on BGH for the incoming review & podcast throwdown!