While the 1980s were a golden age for horror films, they weren’t all great and several were actually pretty bad. Fresh off directing “Friday the 13th II and III” director Steve Miner’s next film was the horror/comedy “House”. It was also produced by Sean S. Cunningham the creator of “Friday the 13th”. Composer Harry Manfredini, who found fame with the “Friday” films, also scored “House”. A lot of great people came together for this film only to churn a huge turd.
Our main character Roger Cobb is played by William Katt, who previously played Tommy Ross in “Carrie”. He’s a struggling writer of horror novels whose life has fallen in the crapper. His son disappeared a few years back, his wife has left him and he’s having issues with his new book. He then gets a call that the Aunt who helped raise him has killed herself. She leaves behind a large house that Roger decides is the perfect place to get going on his new book about his experiences in Vietnam. I can remember “House” being in heavy rotation on HBO and Showtime back in the late 80s. My 10-year-old self thought this was pretty cool and scary, but like a lot of movies rewatching it 30 years later, it is a completely different experience. I can’t remember if it was originally supposed to be so comedic but seeing it now everything comes off as ridiculous and cheesy. Although so many people from the “Friday” movies worked on this film it is really missing special effects guru Tom Savini. The monsters in “House” are terrible, nothing but stuntmen in cheap latex suits, like a bad “Godzilla” movie. No blood or gore of any kind and not the least bit scary.
There is an interesting story buried here somewhere though. Although words like PTSD were not used back in the 80s with Vietnam vets, Roger is suffering from it big time. A lot of guilt and regret about his wartime experiences are brought up in a number of flashbacks. These scenes also suffer greatly from cheap set design and just bad filmmaking. Roger’s friend Big Ben was captured by the enemy and tortured for weeks before being killed. Ben begged for Roger to kill him after he was injured by he refused. All of the ghosts and monsters that Roger encounters in the house could be a manifestation of his anger and guilt, but it doesn’t come off that way. George Wendt, from the hit 80s show “Cheers”, plays Rogers extremely intrusive and annoying neighbor Harold tries to turn this move into a buddy film. In my mind, the film hits every wrong note and certainly doesn’t hold up to the passage of time. It did quite well in its time at the box office making almost 20 million dollars on a 3 million budget. It might have some sentimental value for some but it's not something I will return to again.