New VHS of the Week: The House Of The Devil

The House of the Devil VHS

VHS is the New BLU RAY!

From the director of Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever comes a movie that does not suck! Unlike anything from the director of Cabin Fever.

This movie takes place in the early 1980s which is obvious by the mom jeans early on in the film.  For a low budget period piece it does a good job of making it feel like the time, coming off realistic rather then overly fake.  Though I guess actual music from the time was out of the budget since most of it is made up of bands that sort of sound like they are from that time, but for the few actual musical cews this movie has it works.  The score for the most part is very important in this scare fest. 

The movies running time is only an hour and a half, and those of you looking for Saw like style of movie or need a jump every 3 minutes to unsure a proper change of pants by the end of the movie better stay well away from this movie.  For the most part the movie is just one long build up of suspense, and in that respect its very effective.

Tom Noonan in The House of the Devil

whats NOT creepy about this?

The basic plot is that a young college girl (Samantha played by Jocelin Donahue) strapped for cash takes a babysitting job out in the middle of nowhere Connecticut.  When she arrives at the house with her friend things do not feel right.  I mean when NOOOONAN!!! *say it like Seinfeld* opens the door you know your pretty much screwed.

After Samantha is dropped off by her friend we spend the next 40 suspense filled minutes with her wondering around this big house as she slowly discovers that things are not as they seem.  This movie would have failed if the lead role had not been as effective as she is.  We by her naiveté, and when shit goes down she does not play the complete screaming idiot we’ve grown to see in so many horror films.  

When the bad things start to happen they play out in a very effective manner.  The movie does a great job at keeping the audience at bay, there is only one shot leading up to the final scene letting us know what is in store.  So when it does happen it is a shock.  This is not a movie with twist are anything, you can tell where the movie is going. Its all the build up and not knowing exactly what is going to happen, and when it does you will be surprised.

I would like to note the sound design of this film, it should have gotten second credit.  The use of strings got me very on edge.  Also the sound in general was great for a low budget film like this, usually horror movies sound like garbage, this one made my surround sound work.  Also the choice of Connecticut for its location, while they say its based off of true events who knows if that is true.  But I used to live in Connecticut and it is a truely scary place, there is just something off about it.  The last horror movie shot there that I know was the original The Stepford Wives.     

Jocelin Donahue The House of the Devil

Hey at least she was smart enough to grab a knife.

This was a surprisingly effective little horror film.  It’s nice to see some American directors taking a note from the European horror play book.  During parts of the commentary I listened to, I heard the director (Ti West) mention the auteur nature of this film, while yes it is a little douchey to sit around and call your own film auteur but that is sort of what this horror film is.  While Ti West has yet to be proven as an auteur, if he keeps making films like this he is well on his way.  

Get ready for these to make a comeback:


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About koutchboom


66 responses to “New VHS of the Week: The House Of The Devil”

  1. Jarv says :

    Why did they make those things?

  2. Jarv says :

    And Christ Koutch, where did you find an actual VHS player outside of the Smithsonian?

  3. Bartleby says :

    West did Cabin Fever 2? Was it any good? I liked his debut, The Roost, about vampire bats that turn you into zombies. It too had a delightful 80s feel to it. House of the Devil is, as Frank would say, mint.

    Geez, now Im wondering if CF2 is worth my time.

    • Jarv says :

      It won’t be.

    • koutchboom says :

      Coulnd’t tell you about Cabin Fever, comes out on Netflixs in two weeks. I’ll check it out, though after reading that stuff about Blockbuster, maybe its there? I’ve heard mix things about it, I’ve heard if you liked the first one you’ll like the second and same if you hated the first one.

      And yes House of the Devil is mint, unlike that other horror film you tried to pawn off as being good, In My Skin. Can’t believe you think thats more messed up then Inside.

    • Jarv says :

      So it will be shit then?

  4. Continentalop says :

    The term “Auteur” should be banned from almost any movie discussion, even by directors and critics. It one of those terms, along with Film Noir, that everyone throws around but usually in the wrong context and now has no fucking meaning whatsoever.

    Auteur basically means “author”, as in the director is the author of the film. It is the idea that the director leaves behind his signature on the film and you can see it when you watch it. As simple as that. But it has somehow morphed into this completely different concept.

    Not criticizing you K-Boom, but I just have a feeling that this guys Auteur comments on the director track will annoy the fuck out of me.

    • Toadkillerdog says :

      What up C? Thoughts on Mayweather/Mosley?

      • Continentalop says :

        Hey TKDog. Getting excited about that fight. I just want to know what weight they finally agreed on because I think that is the biggest deciding factor in that fight.

      • Toadkillerdog says :

        I do not think Floyd has signed the contract yet. It should be a helluva fight if Floyd does not chicken out

      • Jarv says :

        Did Mayweather chicken out of fighting Manny then?

      • Toadkillerdog says :

        I think it was a mutual thing – Manny is hiding his drug usage and Floyd wanted no part of a roided up Manny – I think it will happen later in 2010 though because the money is too good to pass up.

      • Jarv says :

        Manny will beat Floyd heavily.

      • Continentalop says :

        I don’t know Jarv. Floyd is just naturally bigger than Manny. That is why the weight category thing is so big.

        Of course now you got Manny fighting Joshua Clottey and Floyd fighting Sugar Shane Mosley as their next fights. Hopefully after that the Manny and Floyd fight goes through.

      • Toadkillerdog says :

        I’m not so sure. i think a roided up Manny would take Floyds best shots, but if Manny has to detox, then he might lose some power – or at least he might lose his confidence that he can beat Floyd without the drugs. Yes, i do believe Manny was on something, he moved up through too many weight classes too easily and kept his power along the way. Then when push came to shove, they trotted out that ‘he’ superstitious and hates needles’ When the dude has a bazillion tats on his body.

        But, I also believe Floyd is scared of Manny – up to a point. Money is money, and it trumps all. Floyd wasnt sto shame manny to give up the drugs, and the fight will be on.

      • Continentalop says :

        I agree Toad. But roids equal weight, and that is why that weight class thing becomes so big.

        But I also think Floyd is scared of Manny – here is a guy who might give him a fight and doesn’t appear scared of him. But Floyd’s fucking shoulder roll style is so fucking hard to beat.

        I want Manny to win (I like him and his trainer Freddie Roach) but Floyd is damn good.

      • Jarv says :

        I agree that the drugs use is suspicious, but I think Manny is the classier boxer, not to mention that Floyd IS scared of him, and also I think getting past it.

        We shall see.

      • Toadkillerdog says :

        It’s a curious strategy that Floyd is pursuing. I do not think Floyd is frightened in anyway of Manny. That is ridiculous, because Floyd is a truly great fighter – with all that implies vis-a-vis courage. But it is true that Floyd has been known to duck opponents because he may fear a loss or a lackluster performance.

        I think Manny on drugs is one such thing. He wants to shame Manny out of the drugs, and as much as I like Manny, I do not want to see him win because he was on HGH or something else, in order to maintain his power through 7 (?) weight classes. If something is unprecedented – and Manny maintaining power to effortlessly is such a thing, then look for the easiest explanation. No, he aint a mutant.

      • Toadkillerdog says :

        Hayden and Wlad – she likes older bigger men!

      • Continentalop says :

        For a girl who only recently turned legal age, she gets around.

      • koutchboom says :

        Who says she’s a girl?

      • Continentalop says :

        When I said Floyd was scared, I didn’t mean like cowering or afraid to take him on. But Floyd is very methodical and also very cautious. He only enters fights when he is ready. He follows the Powell Doctrine for Boxing. And I think he feels he isn’t ready for Manny nor is it necessary for him to fight him right this second. Of course, part of that might be legitimate because of the roids so I can’t criticize him to much.

        Floyd’s job is to win. So I can understand, he wants to set up a scenario where he has the best chance of winning. Simple strategy. But it also means he doesn’t feel comfortable fighting Manny just at this moment (again roids does play a part).

      • Jarv says :

        I keep seeing him interviewed going on about his legacy or some such shit. He’s at the stage of his career now, where the end is in sight, and it’s almost as if he’s terrified of losing that.

        That’s why I think he ducks fights.

        It’s all very sensible, but isn’t exactly endearing.

      • Jarv says :

        I’m not saying he wasn’t a brilliant fighter- but if you have a record of ducking difficult fights (and he has), then you can’t claim to be one of the greats.

    • Jarv says :

      I actually know where this came from Conti.

      It’s from Stanislavski (I think) and was used directly for the Theatre, which while a collaborative art form can be reduced down to one key person behind the scenes.

      For example, in a lot of cases the director of the play actually rewrites the playwrights work, but in some instances, and it’s very rare, (I struggle to think of many examples) the playwright is also director, costume/ set designer and lead fucking actor.

      On a film, it’s a nonsense term. The nearest I can think of is probably Carpenter.

      • Continentalop says :

        Actually “auteur theory” came from the French Cahiers du Cinéma. Andre Bazin was a big supporter of the theory. But it doesn’t mean that the director does everything, it means that a film should and does reflect a directors personal vision. A guy like Scorsese or Hitchcock who never writes their own scripts (or almost never) and don’t act as camera men, editors or any other position are considered big auteurs. Because their style, their personal signature and vision can be felt in almost every frame.

        That is what auteur is supposed to mean.

      • Jarv says :

        That’s as applied to film, though- I was thinking more specifically theatre. It isn’t Stanislavski (who the fuck was it) but it was definitely early 20th Century.

        It’s bullshit either way, and disregards other input into the film.

        PS- I did mean that the final product is the specific vision of one person. I wasn’t clear.

        It’s still bullshit.

      • Jarv says :

        The fucking french. I mean really, does everything have to be so goddamn farty?

      • Lordbronco says :

        It’s not bullshit when yngwie malmsteen plays a solo in e harmonic minor…
        Yes, you may be able to hire a studio guy who can kind of play the same scale-but they are no auteur…

    • koutchboom says :

      Yeah it totally will, it did for me.

      I was like….ummm you can’t really be an auteur till you’ve pretty much retired and everyone copies you all the time. The dude looks and sounds sort of like an hipster douchebag.

      • Jarv says :

        No Koutch- Auteur theory is basically that you have to do fucking everything yourself. Notable examples of it are Orson Welles in Citizen Kane, Woody Allen, Carpenter.

        It’s bullshit when applied to the screen. Film is collaborative.

      • koutchboom says :

        Ohhh ok, well he did write/direct/edit it.

  5. Continentalop says :

    BTW – Use of sound in this film. That has got my interest piqued. Good horror movies usually have really good sound, and use it effectively. Think the wind and footsteps in a Val Lawton movie, the breathing in Halloween, the creaking of doors in a good ghost movie or the shower and screams in Psycho. And that isn’t even including the scores.

    Which makes me wonder – if Sound has long been an important element in horror movies, why the fuck do modern movies have such bad fucking sound?

    • Jarv says :

      I know the answer to this as well- because modern horror is lazy.

      The shining example is the use of a single note building in crescendo in minor key before a scene that’s to shock you. The minor key works psychologically and sets us on edge before the payoff.

      I’ve really got my nerd hat on today.

      • Toadkillerdog says :

        The best though is the absence of sound ques, for example, when Roy Scheieder is throwing chum (sounds kinky) in the water off the back of the boat, and Bruce comes out of nowhere to scare the shit out of everyone. i was in the front row at th theater when that movie came out – back when front row was a great seat because there was a stage between the seat and the screen, I damn near landed in the back of the theater! That was the very last time any movie or any scene of a movie has scared me – well, other than battlefield earth.

    • koutchboom says :

      Yeah don’t set your hopes TOO high for this, I mean its good it coule POSSIBLE be a classic some day. Though Conti you’ll probably see more rip offs of older shit then I did, and liking this film pretty much comes down to how much you liked the pay off to the build up.

      I just liked that the sound WAS LOUD and clear. It wasn’t just loud noise like Saw.

      • Continentalop says :

        No, I understand K-boom. Which brings me to another question: if sound, not just creative sound design but sound itself, is so important for enjoying a horror movie or lower budget movie, why the fuck do they always scrimp on the sound budget and mix these things in like a day? Most modern b-movies sound like absolute shit.

        Fucking hire a good boom mike operator for Christ sakes.

      • Jarv says :

        Fucking hire a good boom mike operator for Christ sakes.

        I blame torture porn for this. And I fucking hate it. It’s like they make the payoff between convincing effects to focus (if it was porn I’d use gynecologically as the adjective) close up to and disregard the sound as who fucking needs it if she’s just screaming.

        Bull-fucking-shit. Things you can’t see with effective sound are always more frightening.

      • Continentalop says :

        I don’t know if Torture Porn specifically is to blame, but I think you’re right about the Porn angle. I think you nailed it with the idea that it is like a close up to gash. Who cares what it sounds like as long as you see the gash (or gore or whatever).

        Funny thing, if you go with the porn analogy, half the time it is the moaning and dirty talk that is hotter and more exciting than the action on screen. Turn the monitor off and just listen to some porn movies and you find it more interesting. Same thing with horror movies. I prefer sometimes not seeing stuff. Like you said Jarv, “Things you can’t see with effective sound are always more frightening.”

      • koutchboom says :

        Hahahahaha I used to get a adult film channel during high school, and it would blank out after the preiview…BUT NOT THE SOUND! Which was good enough.

      • koutchboom says :

        damn theres that stupid term again.

        You know how I feel about torture porn. Man some of the sound effects in Saw 3 are fucking amazing.

        I’d blame 8 sequels to Jason and Freddy for shitty sound work. Because half of the Saw movies working are the believable sound effects. She even the first Saw didn’t sit there and SHOW you him sawing off his leg (maybe like a brief shot) but you heard it.

      • koutchboom says :

        Plus Saw has a fucking awesome Theme song!

        Saw, Harry Potter and Batman (though vastly overshawdowed by Burtons theme) are the only series to come up recognizable theme songs this past decade. Thats pretty amazing for Saw if you think about it.

      • Jarv says :

        I don’t know- blaming torture porn is lazy on my behalf but it’s because torture porn itself is inherently lazy, and seems to be the dominant trend in modern horror. There’s plenty of examples of fucking inept sound in non TP films.

        It’s a totally valid term Koutch. The key thing about Pornography is obscenity, it doesn’t have to lead to sexual gratification.

      • koutchboom says :

        Yeah I know its a totally valied word. And I guess Saw is to blame for a lot of it. But I think the Saw movies are better then just torture porn (except for 3 and 4).

      • Jarv says :

        I wouldn’t consider the first Saw to be Torture Porn though. It’s not like fucking August Underground or Guinea Pig or even Hostel on the more vanilla end of the spectrum.

        On that cheery note off home.

        Getting spectacularly laced tomorrow as Mrs. Jarv is away and it’s the 6N all fucking day, before attempting to do that review with Jonah (if I can find it to redownload)

  6. Jarv says :

    Did anyone see Haye v Valuev

    Oh my god.

    How boring was that?

    • Toadkillerdog says :

      I watched some of it – the ‘highlights’ i was not impressed with Haye. i do remember chatting with you about this fight before it happened, and saying I thought Haye would win, because even though he is shorter, Valuev, has a soft chin.
      I thought going in it might be a blurprint for fighting the K’s. But upon seeing the fight, I do not think Haye can take Wlad. He might be able to take Vitali though. That is a big might though.

      I like the shorter more powerful fighter against a taller fighter. As long as the short guy has power and a good chin, and mobility, he can either fight inside, or stay out of range. That is why I beleive an in prime Tyson would have destroyed – not just beaten, the K’s. But Haye? Mmm, no.

      • Jarv says :

        Haye’s a Cruiserweight that’s stepped up. I think the K’s will beat him easily, and I don’t rate them. I thought he’d lose to Valuev, because I underestimated how shit Valuev was.

  7. Continentalop says :

    I don’t think the Saw movies are torture porn. At least the first couple. They are brutal, and sadistic. But I think the bigger thing there is the idea of you MIGHT have to do something horrible or something horrible MIGHT happen to you. Torture Porn like Hostel and those New French Extremity movies don’t have a MIGHT in them – something horrible WILL happen to you. It has cut out all the other elements in a film – suspense, tension, dilemmas – just for the fucking payoff of watching people getting tortured.

  8. Continentalop says :

    Haye v Valuev was a good awful fight. Valuev is a joke.

    • Jarv says :

      To be fair to Haye- he did break his fist on Valuev’s head in the first round. But still…

      I’ve never seen anything like that. I thought in boxing you had to throw a punch.

  9. Continentalop says :

    The problem with Boxing is that it is the most skilled of combat sports. You can only use your hands and strike an area from your waistline to your head. Less area to hit and a limited number of attack options means you really need refined skills.

    Which also means when you get physical freaks in there who only use some sort of physical advantage (like a 12′ reach) and can’t back it up with any sort of skill you can get some fucking ugly fights. Especially in the heavy weight category.

    • xiphos0311 says :

      Fucking heavy weight division is a disgrace full of fat slobs with no skill or power, it fucking hurts to see what that division has become.

      • Continentalop says :

        Xi, I hate to say this but it is “evolution.” It is what happens when you have no Super-Heavyweight or Ultra-Heavyweight division: you get a bunch of giant behemoths just using their size and reach to win in a heavyweight division with no weight limit, and not be required to have any actual boxing skills. There is a reason their is weight divisions in boxing, time to add one or two more IMO.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        That’s a good idea, that’s a damn good idea, at least one new class would help two would be better.

      • Jarv says :

        That is a fucking good idea. Seconded

  10. Droid says :

    I’ve got this to watch. Looking forward to it. Good review Koutch.

    But… better than Blown Away? Inquiring minds must know.

    • koutchboom says :

      Is anything better then Blown Away? I mean in the grad scheme of things aren’t ALL films trying to reach that level of perfection?

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