Wednesday, January 27, 2010

GHOSTHOUSE aka La Casa 3

(Umberto Lenzi, 1988)

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I first saw Ghosthouse when I was 9 years old, and it scared the crap out of my younger brothers and I. (Thank you, mom, for letting dad take care of us on the weekend!) While it doesn't stand up quite as well today, it's still highly entertaining schlock with some good grue, a high body count, and a vacant-eyed Lara Wendel.

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Ghosthouse is about a fellow by the name of Paul, who records a frightening transmission while playing with his ham radio. *Mm Hmm* Using cutting-edge computer technology from 1988, Paul and his girlfriend Martha are able to pinpoint the source of the signal. *Uh Huh* This takes them to a creepy, abandoned old house in rural New England. There they meet a group of kids who are using the attic for their own radio. *Oh Really!* The only problem is that none of them sent the message, and the voices in the recording sound like one guy and his sister (and when he screams he SOUNDS like his sister!)

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Once they get there, the chaos begins. It's a regular carnival funhouse with exploding lightbulbs, a head in the washer, a flame-belching furnace, blood-squirting taps, and the ghost of the little girl who died in the basement with her creepy clown doll. Did I mention her doll was creepy? It makes the one from Poltergeist look warm 'n snuggly! Despite the complete lack of budget, Ghosthouse is never a chore to sit through. Yes, the acting is uniformly bad, and the characters really don't seem to possess brains as they ALL find reasons to go back in the house. The special effects range from "really cheap" to "oh, that's clever!", and scenes seem to be lifted out of an assortment of 80's horror classics. I actually like the synth soundtrack; the only thing missing from the original CD was the creepy lullaby tune with the croaky voice (which is probably a good thing 'cause it was the voice that stuck with me through the night when I was 9.) All in all, Lenzi does manage to create a few truly creepy scenes, the opening to the film being especially memorable. Recommended.

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