Movie Reviews 161 – House (1986)

HouseWhat if you took a bunch of 80’s TV show stalwarts and put them all in a big budget movie? The result is House, a movie whose TV spots at the time featured George Wendt, Norm from Cheers, more prominently than it’s star William Katt of Greatest American Hero fame. The other somewhat bankable stars include Richard Moll from Night Court and Kay Lenz whose TV credits go all the way back to The Andy Griffith Show.

This movie is all over the place, and vacillated between a tearjerker to a comedic farce and everything in between. It starts off as a haunted house story, but somewhere in the middle it transforms into more of a personal demon story than anything else.I don’t have a problem with using pseudo stars making yet another low budget horror movie, but I just wish they decided exactly what kind of a movie they were going to make and stick with it.

We find famed horror writer Roger Cobb (Katt) having just inherited the house in which he grew up in from his dead aunt. But he’s not only haunted by the mysterious loss of his young son years ago which resulted in his divorce from Sandy (Lenz), but also memories from his experience as a Vietnam Vet. In fact he has decided to depart from his comfort zone as a horror author and now write a novel about his experience during the war. This leads to numerous flashbacks in the jungles of ‘Nam with his platoon as well as memories of his son and the day he disappeared.

At first we’re just dealing with a haunted house and all the spooks you usually get with that sort of thing, but at the end it’s a particular event in Roger’s wartime experience that ends up being the haunting entity and it all ties in with his missing son. Some nice Zombie Soldier makeup effects of Roger’s gung-ho platoon mate ‘Big Ben’ (Moll) don’t quite make up for the inconsistencies, but we do get a few good laughs from Wendt as the curious and concerned neighbor.

I confess that I was one of those that saw it in a theater when it was released. The box office take must have been decent for this thinly disguised TV movie as it did spawn a sequel, House II (which I happen to have on another quad movie DVD) in which Norm from Cheers is replaced by his barstool buddy Cliff (John Ratzenberger). Yeah, I’ll watch it, sucker that I am. At least I did not see that one in a theater and the admission price will only be $1.25 (one quarter of the $5 quad DVD).

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