Wednesday, June 12, 2013


It takes a lot to build a House. We’ve always found that it’s best to start with recognizable television stars and build out from there. Thankfully this was still the case in 1987, back when Hollywood would look to save a few bucks by filling a movie with TV guys. So, when some producer was given a script about a Lovecraftian House full of demons, he figured it would be better if it starred the guy who couldn’t drive his alien spacesuit, the retarded bailiff from that show about the magic judge, and the drunk at the end of the bar who hates his wife. Good call, Hollywood! You know sometimes you do get it right. So, how does a movie about a former Vietnam vet/worst father of the year, who retires to his aunt’s portal to hell fare when run through the machines? Let’s find out!
  • There's nothing more terrifying that the shot of a house…during the middle of the day. = +2pts
  • Background shot for opening crawl is straight out of an intro to film class, complete with shaky camerawork and average white kid. = -2pts
  • Having a character named grocery boy in your movie and a scene where he calls out, “It’s the grocery boy!” = +7pts (#youknowyoureinahorrormoviewhen)
  • Grocery boy’s reading of the word “sick” as he looks at the aunt’s disturbing demon rape paintings and not knowing whether he means it in a good or bad way. = +5pts (Score could change depending on when “sick” changed to mean “awesome.”)
  • “I should wander deeper into this house. I have groceries!” = +4pts
  • This scene would be completely different with a porno soundtrack. = No points just a recommendation for the inevitable remake.
  • THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO!! = +10pts (Come to think of it, that’s a pretty bold statement coming from a guy with spatial orientation issues and the worst TV fro ever.)
  • People who read books are the real terror. = -9pts (In 1987 = -3pts, In 2013 = -6pts)
  • Does anyone still film scenes where characters walk down the sidewalk and have conversations and the director makes the “creative decision” to put the camera at ground level so that you see more blurry cars than acting? Was acting that bad in 1987? Or could you not get a film permit? = No points, just a mussing.
  • Being better at acting like your friends are in your apartment to make an ex-wife jealous than actual acting. = +3pts
  • Real men in the ‘80s used a microwave to cook their lonely meals. Once again proving the ‘80s notion that the idea of men cooking is stupid (See: Bachelor Party). Our evidence: Lead tosses box and all into the microwave before nuking. We rest our case. = -1pt
  • Having a dream in which you imagine your son being lost in a jungle in ‘Nam. = +6pts (This is getting deep.)
  • Filming that scene in a forest somewhere in Maine. = -2pts
  • A checkered marble hallway floor leading into a hardwood dining room? Carpet on the stairs and various bedrooms? Who designed this house, The Joker?  = +5pts
  • Taking Checkov’s “gun” analogy and raising it a harpoon gun. = +3pts
  • Ignoring the advice of a real estate agent to sell the house after he almost shoots your face with a harpoon and his only response is to say, “Oh, geez. Sorry about that.” = +10pts (Balls, man. Balls.)
  • Same real estate guy calling all your family belongings “junk.” Pretty classy, real estate man. You’re hired! = +5pts (For being honest.)
  • “I just saw the ghost of my dead aunt hang herself after telling me the house made her do it. I really should go to bed in my missing son’s bed. I am a normal person.” = -5pts
  • Rocking the deepest v-neck sweater we’ve ever seen...without an undershirt. = +4pts (In any decade.)
  • NORM! = +10pts
  • “Hi, I’m your creepy neighbor who’s going to slag on your crazy dead aunt—wink, hopefully someone put her out of her misery—and, by the way, I just happen to have a copy of one of your books in my pocket despite us never having met before.” = +4pts (For always being prepared.)
  • BULL! = +10pts
  • Remember back when Vietnam looked like a soundstage in Burbank? These vets do… And they’ll never forget…. Ever. = +2pts
  • “You know what, closet, I feel like a pussy in this v-neck. I’m going to go brush my teeth and put on an ever deeper plunging robe. If there’s anything behind this door, my immaculately smooth chest should protect me.” = +2pts
  • Responding to a monster from the closet trying to eat you by hella shopping on Amazon. Items purchased include: body armor, helmet, goggles, eight video recorders and tripods, harpoon string, boots, and guns. Wait? Not one fucking gun? WTF?! This is America, Goddammit! = -2pts
  • The scary closet monster was one thing, but this cray cray fish nailed to the wall warrants a gun for realz. = +2pts
  • Shooting prototype Billy the Bass twenty years before we had a chance to. = +5pts (For predicting the future. And still being worth it.)
  • “This house must be haunted. Quick, let’s get back inside!” = +4pts
  • Attempting to prove you were attacked by a demon by dramatically baring your immaculately waxed chest, and—we’re sorry, you were saying? We got lost in your eyes. = +9pts
  • Shooting your ex-wife with a shotgun. Wait, we mean demon. We think… = No score. Nanobots still calibrating.
  • We hope Sam Raimi is getting royalties for this movie.  = -3pts
  • Unironic use of the song “You’re No Good” to accompany the montage of dismemberment and burial of ex-wife demon. = -2pts
  • Flirting with a man who is obviously burying a dead body (of some kind). = +6pts (Feminisms!)
  • Showing up at his house later that night with your child and watching the same man abscond with your child into the restroom without any real explanation, watching the child emerge with said stranger crying, and deciding to leave him with the same man to be babysat. There are two options here for young Bobby 1)His mother is a huge whore or 2)She found this kid on the porch and panicked. = +5pts (Bad parenting always makes for great plot complications.)
  • “Man, this house is full of demons. Young Billy should be okay here while I unearth the trauma of my experiences in Vietnam.” = -2pts
  • Giving a kid who is not yours a bath without asking his mother/whore first. = -10pts
  • Not killing your best friend during ‘Nam so that he could later be captured by the Viet Cong and tortured. = -3pts
  • Deciding to write a book about it later to make some money and prove to people you’re a serious writer. = -6pts
  • Call us cowards, but if it were our son Jimmy and we had fallen through our medicine cabinet, had our shotgun stolen by a flying demon bat, and emerged in Vietnam, we’d have said, “Fuck it.” = +10pts
  • For a guy whose previous credit was playing a superhero who couldn’t land, it’s no wonder it took him multiple attempts to rescue his child from the clutches of a demon house. = +10pts (For never giving up.)
  • Telling your returned long dead demon best friend that you would have died for him, and when he basically says, “Sure, now’s good,” slamming the door in his face. Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice… = -5pts
  • Tearing your demon vet BFFs arm off and beating him with it. = +10pts (Bad. Ass.)
  • Demon reattaching his arm and kicking the Greatest American Hero's ass with it. = +15pts (Badder. Asser.)
  • So you were the last person who saw your son before he “mysteriously” disappeared and several years later you emerge from that same burning house with your son and everybody’s happy? Yeah… = -10pts.
  • “Therapy, Jimmy? Ha! Why, I happen to have your mom/my ex-wife right here! See, Daddy didn’t shoot her with a shotgun, which is a decision he's no longer regretting given the suspiciously positive outcome of this whole endeavor! See those lights there? Those are policeman! They’re likely responding to the fire at the house. Or, quite possibly, the inappropriate bath I gave to young Billy earlier. Trust me, once they understand that I was only washing him to remove the any evidence of the demon hands that were groping him, we’ll be able to resume our normal lives. Your mother can dump that asshole she was fucking, and I can do more fatherly things around the house. Like tossing an entire box of fish sticks into the microwave! Who knows, maybe when they’re done cooking, we can pour ketchup over the box and watch FullHouse as a family.” = +10pts (For Hollywood being Hollywood.)

Total Points: +116pts
Available on: Netflix streaming, Amazon Prime Instant Video, In the closet of a man wearing Sam Rami's skin

For a film that relies heavily on Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead films for its notion of horror/comedy, House does have some concepts worth exploring. What on its surface is a film about a writer looking to settle down and write his memoir, quickly turns into a film about the legacy of trauma, both political (Vietnam) and personal (failure at parenting). William Katt is solid as a likeable guy who has a very dark secret. George Wendt provides some solid comic relief, but, given the legacy of Cheers, feels underutilized as Katt’s skeptical neighbor/fast-friend. It’s too bad that the movie lets the wind out of its own sails by hyper-Hollywooding the ending, thus deflated any real impact (or real horror) the movie may have had. 

Score Technicians: Sean McConnell and Maya Mackrandilal

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