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House (1986)

File this one under guilty pleasures:


Ex-vet Roger Cobb is a horror novelist. Has been since he left service. But his son was abducted from his family home never to be seen again, his marriage broken down, and his mother has taken her own life.

Roger is returning home to write his memoirs in solitude. But the house isn't empty.

One of the first horror movies that made a real impression on me was House. Unknown to me at the time, the horror comedy genre would become a mainstay love of mine, and Steve Miner's gem will be forever a favorite.

Right from the start of the movie, William Katt, cast excellently as Roger Cobb cuts comedy and serious perfectly. He's the believable every man. The believable hero. And he's thrust into some serious horror within the house.

Cobb comes to the house his mother committed suicide in to write a memoir. He meets neighbors, Harold (George Wendt), and Tanya, (Mary Stavin). Cursed by nightmares of his missing son, and Ben (Richard Moll), a fallen comrade in Vietnam, Cobb is attacked by forces in the house. His wife transforms into a goblin, his garden tools attack him, and he sees visions of his mother. Oh, and there's a really big monster in the closet.

Then he finds a gateway the bathroom.

It's a really big...raccoon??

Before the (fantastic) twist culminating in the climax of the film, the house itself is the villain of the piece. The attack by gardening equipment is well done. The special effect is good. The monster in the closet is exceptional. The FX, the character reactions from both Katt and Wendt, the humor injected. It's largely flawless.

The scene where Cobb's ex-wife turns into a goblin is by far the worst effect in the movie. It's just rubber suit territory.

Then, the climax.

Ben - Cobb's fallen comrade in 'nam, is a zombie. Yes. That's a twist no one saw coming. Back in the day (well, night, actually) Ben  was injured, and Cobb refused to take his life, leaving him to be tortured in a POW camp "for years". So Ben possessed the house (?) and took his son.

And it's beautiful.

Richard Moll

The effects laden Moll returns as Ben for a final showdown with Cobb who has his son returned to him.

The action in the climax is outstanding, Moll's makeup is great, and you just didn't see it coming.

The selling point for me, I think, is that the horror is light, the comedy well present, and it's fun. Fun isn't something many horrors (even horror comedies) do well. Horror is usually serious, I get that, however, horror comedy tends to bend towards silly, rather than funny and clever, and thus not a fun time.

If you haven't seen this, you should. It holds up pretty well today. And there's sequels. *cough* Of varying quality.

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