The next time you’re at the neighborhood Best Buy, find the packaging for The Grudge. Then, seek out an obscure new release of an old catalog favorite named The House Where Evil Dwells, and line up the boxes. You’ll be struck by how eerily similar the packaging is. Struck enough to turn them over and compare synopses. After doing so, you will notice not only is the packaging similar, but also the plotlines themselves.
Add to the mix the fact House is an early eighties horror film, and…you just might think you’ve discovered yet another rare gem ripped off by today’s horror surge… you could not be more wrong.
House opens with a rather brutal-for-the-times double-murder and suicide involving a jealous samurai, his wife, and her lover. Skip ahead one century, and we meet a photographer and his family moving into the same place where the murders occurred, and we learn very soon — in quite ridiculous fashion — they are not alone.
The ghosts, while having quite unpleasant personalities, look absolutely ridiculous, which wouldn’t be so bad if the filmmakers decided on the less-is-more mentality. But no, they thought they had a good thing going, so they decide to cram these jokers down viewers’ throats every five minutes. It’s like watching an inept tale of possession at the hands of Belushi’s Samurai Tailor. You’re not supposed to be laughing at these guys, but they leave you little choice.
As the film progresses, history plans to repeat itself, but not before we get fifty scenes of unintended comedy at the hands of these three denizens of evil, who, by the way, are now completely in league with one another. It’s good to see evil’s presence does not exclude the Christian concept of forgiveness in the hereafter. And while my fear of spiders did make one particular scene in the film a harrowing experience, even I have to admit it’s the thought of the phobia and not the horrendous looking special effects that did me in. Those of you unbothered by such things should have another good laugh at the sight of them.
As for me, I’ll try not to think about them… or this movie.
The film stars Edward Albert and Susan George as the husband and wife with otherworldly troubles. Kevin Connor directs.
The mono presentation is crisp and balanced between dialogue and action, which means you won‘t be volleying the volume up and down. In fact, parts of the track are quite good. The crab-spider-thing scene comes to mind first. The creeping wind rustling the trees and the sharp scratchy sounds of fake arachno-crustacean legs across hard tile floor has a strength and ferocity to it that makes the ears tingle… or maybe that was just me and my arachnophobia.
I am greatly reminded of the recent Amityville Horror set with this video transfer. The colors are bright, the blacks strong. Overall, the source print appears to be in very good shape as little picture enhancement and small amounts of grain exist. The only sore spot in the 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is the presence of Doug McClure naked, but even that has Susan George’s body to recommend it. Besides, that’s more director Kevin Connor’s fault than MGM/UA’s.
They made this part easy on me. Only an original theatrical trailer of the film comprises the bonus content. And yes, it, too, sucks. If this was the only marketing campaign House had going for it, I can see why it failed.
”It never forgives… Or forgets.” — The House Where Evil Dwells
”It never forgives. It never forgets.” — The Grudge
It’s easy to see how one might get mixed up with the two taglines above accompanying very similar packages. My suggestion? Stick with the latter. Because if you don’t, the only thing unforgiving will be you… towards your self… for blowing $10-$15 on this crap. Do yourself a favor and just buy five gallons of gas instead.
Special Features List