House (1986)

Nope, no British actor with an American accent, diagnosing illnesses here. This is a film about a haunted, you guessed it, house.

I walked by the box for this movie a lot when I worked at the video store. I never watched, it, but I was always drawn to the really cool imagery on the cover. Honestly, I don’t remember ever picking it up to read the synopsis on the back, but I absolutely remember this severed zombie hand ringing a doorbell.

The poster above looks pretty scary right? The movie starts and I see the actor credits come up and the names George Wendt and Richard Moll scroll by… Hey! It’s the dude from Greatest American Hero! Did I make a mistake? Is this a comedy? Turns out it is a horror and a comedy, sort of like Army of Darkness.

The components for a great horror are all there. You have a really sympathetic victim in William Katts Roger Cobb. His PTSD and recurring nightmares of the Vietnam war, the disappearance of his son from this same house, the breakup of his marriage, his stalled writing career, they did a great job of creating this character and having the house play mind games with him. It’s perfect… as a story pitch. Watching it thirty three years later, it falls a little flat.

Now, I could be wrong, but I think the transfer to HD actually hurts this movie. I think if I had watched it in a darkened theater, underlit and projected from a scratchy, dirty film, or even the crappy quality of VHS, I might have gotten scared a little more by the creatures, but on an HD television screen… they all just look ridiculously goofy. Everything is just too bright and looks like a rubber suit. It’s a similar problem for classic video game emulators. The original game makers designed their sprites to look good on old CRT screens and when you play them on an HD LED monitor, with no raster or interlacing, they don’t look the same at all. I think this picture was made to look good projected on a screen, not a modern TV.

It’s still a good movie, certainly much better than some of the others I’ve watched recently. I would just advise anyone who wants to watch it today to turn down the brightness on your television. You know, come to think of it, it could just be the adjustments I made in order to watch that episode of Game of Thrones. You know the one I mean.

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