After the success of the “Friday The 13th..” franchise, producer Sean S. Cunningham looked to expand his portfolio of films. One script he happened upon was that for “House”. No, it wasn’t an early version of the Hugh Laurie starring medical drama, but a script about a good, old fashioned haunted house set in contemporary America.
So, the plot: Roger Cobb (William Katt) is a divorced Vietnam veteran turned horror novelist, who has recently inherited his aunts old house after her mysterious suicide. Suffering writer’s block after the disappearance of his young son, Roger soon begins to see and hear things that should not be there. Aided by his well meaning neighbour (George Wendt), he attempts to fight back against the house, and possibly save his soul as well…
So, yeah, its a pretty thin premise, but one that works really rather well. Most of the film is actually played for laughs, rather than the typical for the time gore overload, which works immensely in the films favour. Doing supernatural events in a serious manner requires way more money than Cunningham had available for this film, so amping up the chuckles was a safe bet. Director Steve Miner (a long time Cunningham collaborator) handles the film magnificently, showing that he was truly becoming a well versed and versatile genre film maker, and coupled with a Harry Manfredini score (another long time collaborator of Cunningham), all the component parts are there. And they work. Almost perfectly. For me, this is easily a top tier horror-comedy, sitting alongside the likes of Return Of The Living Dead and Abbot & Costello Meet Frankenstein.
As this is an Arrow release, the extras are naturally extensive and excellent. for your money you get: a new 2k restoration presented in full 1080p HD, a choice of original mono, stereo or DTS-HD 5.1 soundtracks, subtitles, a commentary track with Steve Miner, Sean Cunningham, William Katt, and writer Ethan Wiley, a feature length documentary “Ding Dong, You’re Dead: The Making of House”, a vintage making of featurette, a stills gallery, theatrical, tv, and teaser trailers, a full version of the 1st draft script (BD-ROM), a full copy of the short story that inspired the script (BD-ROM), and a choice of original or new sleeve art. Phew. All of the aforementioned are more than worth your time.
So, this is a cheeky, funny, spooky film that is well worth your time and money.
4.5/5 Fiends. Pretty damned essential.
Gallery (click to enlarge):