Jarv’s Schlock Vault: House

He’s here, somewhere in this house

Jarv’s Rating: 2 and a half Changs out of 4, and I’ve got a feeling that I am being unfair on it. A fun but flawed monster movie.

House is a film that I’ve been meaning to see for years, and just never got round to it for one reason or another. So, in the interests of completion and because I’m pig fucking sick of watching the ninth rate crap that passes for video game adaptations, I finally put it on, and I am glad that I’ve corrected this oversight.

"William, why have you got your cock out under the table?"

William Katt (probably most famous for Carrie) plays Roger Cobb. Roger is a novelist who keeps recycling his personal experiences in Vietnam in his books. He’s under a great deal of mental stress, his son has disappeared, wife has left him, and he’s tormented with guilt over his actions in Asia. His aunt has just offed herself, and he’s inherited her spooky house. Once he’s moved in, he’s forced to fend off nosy fat bastard neighbour (played by George Wendt), and pushy and flirtatious single mother neighbour that wants to use him for babysitting services. However, by far his biggest problem is, though, that he’s living in a monster infested hell hole.

This is a genuinely funny film. Katt plays it relatively straight with an expression of bemusement permanently attached to his face. Yet, there’s a sense that he knows it’s flat-out silly to be dressed in combat gear attempting to harpoon a monster that may or may not be imaginary that lives in his closet. It’s a good central performance, and it is fair to say that all the turns in this film are all competent and all effective. Wendt in particular is just playing Norm from Cheers, but he’s likable enough and you don’t want to pummel his fat face in, which would be a severe danger with his character.

I'm not sure what he thinks he's playing at here.

However, this is a confused film. The flashbacks to tell us why Roger has so many mental issues are all kind of shoddy and for the most part a bit dull. You don’t really get a feeling that Ben  (Richard Moll) is his best mate as the first time we see them Ben is playing a stupid practical joke on Roger. The idea is clearly to try to convince the audience that the monsters may or may not be part of his fevered imagination. It doesn’t work because they’re too obviously real, and all the messing around in Nam distracts from the stars of the film- the demons/ zombies.

This is completely irrelevant to the film, but still, who doesn't like a zombie exploding from the ground?

As you may have gathered, the monsters in this film are outstanding. Whether it’s Demon Sandy, Skeleton Ben or the other beasts and various demons, they’re all great fun, and the film squeezes an awful lot of intentional comedy out of them. It doesn’t matter that Ben’s plan for vengeance is essentially crap, because he’s just so amusing. However, I do have to say that the most consistently entertaining beast is Demon Sandy, and the film milks a quite impressive amount of laughs out of her appearances and demise- particularly the sequences involving her decapitation and disposing of the body. Very funny stuff.

Cunningham and Miner (producer/ director) are more notorious for the Friday 13th Series (and Kane Hodder does make an appearance here doing stunts) but I have to say that strikes me as unfair. This film is much more fun than Friday 13th, it’s more consistently amusing, and although there’s nothing in the way of nudity in this film, it’s played with a sense of humour and is just far more pleasurable to watch than most of their insipid and uninteresting more famous work.

"You weren't there, man, you don't understand. Now where's the weed"

For a fairly simple premise, this is a nice twist on the haunted house- monsters rather than ghosts, and although some of the makeup work (you can see Moll’s lips beneath the Skeleton Ben gear) may be a bit weak, monsters as a rule are much more entertaining than spectral frights. Probably because they are corporeal and as such can be physically fought. However, given that there is a feeling that Roger is going nuts due to Nam guilt, perhaps ghosts and ambiguity would have been more appropriate- even if less amusing.

Overall, I do recommend this film. It’s fun, amusing and a really pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon. House may be a product of its time, and it may be a bit confused and a bit cheesy, but I do have to say that this has been a really good bit of Schlock and I am now quite looking forward to the sequels- one of which I’ve heard is completely loopy.

Roger's conquest didn't look so great in the cold light of sobriety

I’ve got a horrid feeling that this film will be on the remake list, and will be redone as a straight horror. If such terrible events come to pass then it will be a crying shame. This is a clear Horror/Comedy and it has just got a lot of heart, something that no amount of remake hackery can replace, so let’s hope that the likes of Platinum Dunes don’t bother. Leave it in the past, please, and let those that want to see a good, amusing, monster-fest find the original.

Until next time,



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About Jarv

Workshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.

25 responses to “Jarv’s Schlock Vault: House”

  1. MORBIUS says :

    You lost me at . . . “there’s nothing in the way of nudity in this film . . .”

  2. MORBIUS says :

    And . . . I beg to differ . . . William Katt . . . probably most famous for . . .

    The Greatest American Hero

    • Jarv says :

      I would agree but I haven’t seen that

    • Spud McSpud says :

      THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO is BRILLIANT! Jarv, I am surprised!

      Used to be on UK TV on Saturdya mornings (about 10am) back in the mid 80s. It’s about a mild-mannered schoolteacher who finds a superhero suit that endow the wearer with amazing powers. A genuinely great children’s series from the always awesome 80s.

      Well worth a watch.

  3. MORBIUS says :

    Anywho! You make it sound fairly watchable so . . .

    If the opportunity ever presents itself . . . will definitely give it a go. Nice write-up, Cheers! ” you wanna go where everybody knows yoour name . . .”

  4. Spud McSpud says :

    Glad you enjoyed it Jarv – HOUSE is quality schlock done RIGHT. It has its tongue firmly in its cheek, it’s not remotely mean-spirited, it’s scary and funny in equal measure, and is enti8rely interested in entertaining the viewer – nothing more and nothing less. Katt is great, as is Wendt, and as you say, the creatures are fantastic – imaginative AND well-produced (for the most part).

    And it’s one of the greatest VHS 80s trailers EVER.

    I’m glad you enjoyed it – the sequels are all watchable, though none come close to this one. Number 2 is the batshit one, IIRC. Great review, as always 😀

  5. ThereWolf says :

    Can’t recall ‘House’ in much detail but I did get a kick out of it at the time. I do remember thinking the ‘Nam bits were out of step with the rest of the goings-on.

    Can’t remember the sequels at all. I’m sure in the third one somebody gets chased through different TV channels. But I might have been off my face.

    • Bartleby says :

      “someone gets chased through different tv channels’

      so glad you said this There, as I recall in 88 or whenever HS (H3) came out, getting it confused as a kid with Shocker, the Wes Craven movie.

      I think Horror Show was like a low budget rip on Shocker and both were released near together. Shocker, however, is the one with Mitch Pileggi battling the hero through various tv channels.

      Nice to see Im not the only one caught in the confusion.

  6. Bartleby says :

    2.5 is a fair rating for this. It is a bit of a goofy mess, but highly entertaining. I think too the war scenes are out of place and don’t add anything.

    I actually think the second one is more enjoyable. No traces of horror left, but surprisingly better creatures–more imagination and some shockingly effective stop motion work. And it’s got by far the better Cheers cameo with John Ratzenberger. And, as Bando once pointed out, it’s got Royal Dano who makes anything better.

  7. DocPazuzu says :

    I love House! So many cool things going on there. I was a huge Weird War Tales reader when I was a kid so I always get a special kick out of Moll’s Nam vet zombie.

    I should also add that I love House 2, which is indeed absolutely nuts (Aztec sacrifice! Crystal skulls! Zombie cowboys! Pterodactyls!). Continuing the Cheers cast inclusion from the first movie, it stars John Ratzenberger as the intrepid, deadpan Bill The Electrician, perhaps the coolest fucking cameo of all time.

    If you guys really need to see Kay Lenz nekkid (and who doesn’t) check out Stripped To Kill where she plays a hot cop who goes undercover as a stripper (genius!) in order to trap a killer.

    • Jarv says :

      Yeah it is good. I just hope that it doesn’t get remade. With that fuck Roth talking about remaking Fun House, it’s only a matter of time.

      • DocPazuzu says :

        Funhouse? Really? What a cunt.

      • Jarv says :

        Oh yeah, let me find the quote again. It’s quite horrific in it’s point missing.

      • Jarv says :


        “I’m talking with Universal about that one. The Funhouse is a movie where the first half is brilliant. They set up these great characters, and then they pay off none of them. You have Marco the Magician sawing his daughter in half, the brothers who run the carnival and the funhouse setting. And then it’s all about this weird mutant thing. It should be about the kids getting killed in horrible ways, put in different contraptions in the funhouse and the final girl being strapped into the ride and sent into the tunnels to be confronted by terrifying tableaux of her dead friends. A smart remake could be so much fun. Kill the kids in fabulous ways and continually reuse the bodies by making them freaks in the freak museum, sew their eyes shut, waxworks. That’s the stuff I want to do in a remake of The Funhouse.”

        Eli “Talentless bag of cocks” Roth, 10th June 2009.

      • Jarv says :

        Goddamnit. Even reading that tripe again makes me want to punch him.

      • DocPazuzu says :

        Again, for emphasis:

        What. A. Cunt.

      • DocPazuzu says :

        I can almost envision Eli Roth’s House: two-thirds of it lingering on Moll’s atrocities visited upon Vietnamese civilians.

      • Jarv says :

        Oh god. The horror.

        2/3 of the movie either Ben torturing or getting tortured by the VC.

        1/3 monster movie. Except no monsters, because that’s not grimy enough. Ben just gets hold of Roger and tortures him to death.

  8. Droid says :

    I think I’ve seen one of the House movies when I was younger. Can’t remember which one it was or anything about it.

    William Katt is definitely best known for The Greatest American Hero.

  9. Droid says :

    Jarv, trying to remember this movie I recall another movie I saw as a little kid that I think may be a good one for your schlock vault. A little googling and I found out what it was called.

    It’s called Macabre. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080764/ It’s about a woman who’s husband or lover gets decapitated in a car accident, and she keeps the head and continues a relationship with it.

    You’re welcome.

  10. just pillow talk says :

    Hmmm…I’ve never seen this. I’ll have to correct that, as it sounds quite funny.

  11. Tom_Bando says :

    Believe it or not, I haven’t Seen this one!! I will have to check it out!

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