House (1986) – or – That’s a big raccoon!

As a kid, the visual excitement of the video store was a weekly occurrence. I can remember some of the VHS covers more than the films themselves. House happens to be one of those movies that had a striking cover as well as being a fantastic film.

Roger Cobb (William Katt, yes The Greatest American Hero!) is a horror novelist, and Vietnam vet, whose career has hit a slump since the disappearance of his son. His marriage has fallen apart and his idea for a book about his personal account of Vietnam isn’t generating much interest. When his aunt dies, Roger decides to move into her house, even though it’s the place where his son went missing. Desperate to get some work done on his book, Roger is instantly haunted by the house as it threatens his sanity with visions of the demons in his life. Roger must find out what the haunting has to do with his past, and the disappearance of his son, before it’s too late.

House is a great blend of disgusting creatures and horror comedy. It also managed to give me a few frights as a kid. That probably has a lot to do with the incredible score of Harry Manfredini, the man behind the music of the classic slasher flicks Friday the 13th. It’s a bit of a reunion here, as Sean S. Cunningham (director of Friday the 13th) produces and director Steve Miner also directed Friday the 13th parts two and three. The film also gets a boost from a story by Fred Dekker, a man who is familiar with blending comedy and horror. This is a film that you should hear more about, but rarely do. It’s funny, creepy, and full of incredible creature designs.

Roger Cobb has to go to some dark places in the film "House"

There’s a very Evil Dead 2 feel to the film, although House was released a year earlier. Maybe Evil Dead 2 has a House feel to it? Unfortunately, House doesn’t reach the heights that Evil Dead does, which may be why the film is largely forgotten now. It’s one of my favourite horror comedy films and is certainly a hidden gem from the ’80s. The film actually starts out very creepy. That Manfredini score lends an uncomfortable feeling to the first 20 minutes, and things start out on some serious notes. Things begin to change pace when Roger has to confront the stuffed fish over the fireplace. When it comes to life and starts flopping back and forth, Roger puts an end to it with a shotgun. From that point on, things get a lot more comical. A disgusting, fat, purple witch shows up and Roger is forced to use his gun again, but that barely slows the slimy mess down. When he resorts to chopping the witch up and burying her in the backyard, things get hilarious.

The witch provided some good scares and great laughs.

Even though the creatures in the film are truly disgusting, there is a lack of blood and gore. That makes this the perfect kind of film for the horror hunting 12 year old kids out there. Just creepy and gruesome enough to satisfy their curiosity, but not enough to have them sleep with the lights on. The lighthearted nature that some of the more frightening scenes take helps to ease the tension. House ranks up there as one of the best horror comedies around, sitting in a list that includes Evil Dead 2 and Dead Alive. There’s a lot to enjoy here, and it’s pretty fast paced, rarely slowing down once the insanity starts. If you haven’t had a chance to watch this one yet, I suggest picking it up right now. You won’t be disappointed.

Under the marquee – Will

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