House is a childhood favorite of mine that I first saw late one night at my grandparents’ apartment in L.A. Unlike many of my childhood movies, however, House doesn’t hold up for me like it used to. Nevertheless, its an interesting horror/comedy that although it contains many of the elements typical of 80s horror films, its inclusion of comedy and its strange take on haunted houses makes it unique. Not coincidentally, House has also become somewhat of a cult classic over the years.

House is about a popular horror novelist (William Katt – The Greatest American Hero TV series) who is dealing with his missing child, the divorce of his TV star wife, and the death of his aunt, who has just left him her Victorian-looking house. Needing time to get away from everything and to finish his latest novel, Katt moves into his aunt’s house, which his aunt believed to be haunted. Katt soon discovers that the house really is haunted and that it has something to do with his missing son.

William Katt was Mr. Cool during the 1980’s. He made a name for himself as the star of the popular superhero TV series, The Greatest American Hero (he also played Sissy Spacek’s prom date in Carrie). Katt does a great job here as the emotionally scarred novelist and I believe his performance contributes significantly toward the film’s success. He’s able to convey emotion and comedy equally well, which requires quite a bit of skill to pull off.

However, lets not forget two other notable actors in this movie: George Wendt (Norm from Cheers) and Richard Moll (Night Court). Moll doesn’t have much screen time and he hams up his tough guy Vietnam War soldier character to the point of parody. He doesn’t really get interesting until he turns into his resurrected zombiefied self, which is interesting more for the creature effects than the acting. Wendt’s character is more fun to watch. He plays Katt’s nosey neighbor who is a big fan of Katt’s novels. Wendt is the perfect annoyance and he provides added comedy to the film.

As I state above, the plot of this movie is a weird take on the haunted house theme. Although its haunted, the house doesn’t have your conventional ghosts floating around. Its more of a house full of creatures and inanimate objects coming alive. The filmmakers don’t attempt to tell a scary story, but instead combine elements of horror with fantasy and comedy. The story does go all over the place at times with scenes that don’t seem to fit well together. For example, there is a random scene where Katt is forced to babysit a neighbor’s child while the mom goes out on a date. Forget the fact that the mom just met Katt and she’s entrusting her little kid to him. The scene was poorly conceived and there are others like it.

The creature effects are obviously dated by now, but they’re surprisingly not horrible. I remember being so impressed by the resurrected dead soldier when I was younger, but to look at him now makes you more nostalgic than impressed. As I recently rewatched House, I was also reminded of its similarities to Evil Dead, especially the winged skeleton head that snatches Katt’s shotgun and uses it on him. The creatures are grotesque, but they overall possess more fantasty-like and funny qualities.

House is an overall fun movie, especially if you grew up with it or with other similar 80’s horror movies (for a similar film, check out Return of the Living Dead or Creepshow). The film spawned a number of sequels, all of which are unwatchable. Its not a great or even good movie by any means, but it still has a charm of its own that makes it a crowd-pleaser.

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