Review Date: May 19, 2001
Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release date: 6/9/2001
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
Anchor Bay continues to crank out New Horizons Pictures' films onto DVD, with the classic horror/comedy House being the latest. The supplements on this disc sound terrific - featurette on the making of House and an audio commentary with Director Steve Miner, Producer Sean S. Cunningham, Writer Ethan Wiley, and Star William Katt. As if that isn't enough, Anchor Bay is including a copy of the sequel, House 2, in the first 20,000 copies of the House DVD. Due to the style and depth to our reviews, we've reviewed House 2 separately.
Roger Cobb (William Katt) is a successful horror novelist who is down on his luck. First his son Jimmy (Erik Silver) mysteriously disappears. Following that is a divorce from his wife Sandy (Kay Lenz), who is a famous Hollywood actress. His writing career is in a slump - it's been almost a year since his last book, and his next book won't even be horror related, but rather a personal account of his experiences in the Vietnam war. To top it off, his Aunt Elizabeth (Susan French) just committed suicide in a house that Roger spent many of his childhood years in.
Roger travels to his Aunt's home for a visit. When Roger arrives at the house, he is met by the realtor who is in charge of selling the house. After taking a look around and recollecting on some memories, Roger decides not to sell the house. It's a perfect place for him to get the peace and quiet needed to write a book. The next day as Roger is getting settled in, he meets his next door neighbor, Harold Gorton (George Wendt), who happens to be Roger's "biggest fan".
Neither the peace of quiet lasts very long in the house. Roger begins to see visions of his Aunt, who tells him the house tricked her into killing herself. Next he finds a monster in his closet, followed by yet another monster that is a hideous mutation of his wife. Roger eventually shoots the mutation, thinking he killed it. Harold sees parts of this and calls the police, thinking Roger is trying to kill himself. Later, Roger finally proves to Harold that there are monsters in the house. The big clumsy Harold proves to be little help in Roger's battle against the monsters, ultimately losing his grip as Roger is pulled away by the monsters. Now, alone, Roger must confront the monsters from the present and the skeletons from his past in order to survive the house and discover its true intentions.
House is a fun movie that has lots of enjoyment value. It's a mix of horror and comedy, though I'd say it's most comedy - some of the monsters are just too funny in appearance to be considered 'scary'. That's not to say the effects are bad. I thought they were great, actually, and there are some monsters that look a bit 'scary'. The funny appearances of some monsters helps build the comedic nature of the film. The music of the film is also a great combination of horror and comedy. In some scenes the actual scores starting playing, which is eerie as you'd expect for a horror movie. But in other scenes, where you might least expect it, a song will come on that makes you want to burst out laughing. Why? Because it's a song that gives the scene a humorous tone, something the viewer isn't always prepared for. It works well - I found the the "funny music" to work perfectly in each scene, definitely adding to the enjoyment.
The film stars actors William Katt, famous for his roles in Carrie and The Greatest American Hero TV series, and George Wendt, famous for his role as "Norm!!!" in the Cheers TV series. Each give great performances, and both are type of actors that work perfect in a horror/comedy. Both are capable of comedic and dramatic acting; you wouldn't really expect to see them in a horror movie, which I think helps add a bit of believability.
There are some veterans from the horror genre behind the camera who are responsible for the success of House. House director Steve Miner has directed a variety of horror films, including Friday the 13th Parts 2 and 3, Halloween H20, and Dawson's Creek (if that isn't scary, what is?). House writer Fred Dekker penned The Monster Squad, Night of the Creeps, and some Tales From the Crypt episodes. Last, but not least, is the producer of House - Sean Cunningham. A name that is in the hearts and minds of all horror fans as the man responsible for the Friday the 13th films.
Don't expect a great plot or anything, just a fun horror/comedy based around a haunted house. Any horror fan that can appreciate something like Evil Dead 2 is sure to enjoy House as well.
Excellent transfer by Anchor Bay here. House is presented in an anamorphic widescreen transfer in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Image remains sharp overall and boasts consistent strong, solid colors during playback. There's a few tiny blemishes here and there, but hardly noticeable. A few scenes had some light grain present, also hardly noticeable. I didn't see any signs of MPEG artifacting. In the end this DVD makes the film look like it was made yesterday, which is impressive to say the least. I'm scoring it an A-.
The sound is in Dolby Digital Mono. No problem found here; sound is distortion free and dialogue is crystal clear. No complains for a mono track.
Anchor Bay has included some nice supplements on the House DVD. First up is a commentary track with Director Steve Minster, Producer Sean S. Cunningham (now we know he's WILLING to do commentaries. *hint* *hint*), Writer Ethan Wiley, and Star William Katt. I was actually a bit disappointed in the commentary, mostly because of the frequent gaps of silence, which can last minutes at a time, and also because the group didn't seem all that into it. I love commentaries where it's like a group of old friends sitting around the couch, reminiscing on the past, joking around, and sounding genuinely proud of their work. That didn't happen here. That's not say this group isn't proud of their work, I just didn't get that vibe from the commentary. I also expected the commentary to be a bit humorous. It isn't - not really a complaint, just an observation. When the group is commenting they discuss the filmmaking process both in front of and behind the camera, as well as discussing the various cast and crew members that worked on House. Overall it's interesting to listen to; I'm sure fans will enjoy it, but I don't think it's going to have a high replay value for anyone.
Next is a 12-minute featurette titled "The Making of House", which was made back in 1985 when House was first released. There's voiceover narration that cuts from clips of the film to behind-the-scenes footage. It also includes past interviews with actors William Katt, George Wendt, Richard Moll, as well as special effects designer James Cumming. Although it's a bit short, I found it to be interesting and informative featurette.
Rounding out the supplements are a still gallery, two trailers, and liner notes by Anchor Bay's Michael Felsher. Last, but certainly not least, is that the first 20,000 copies of House will include a free copy of House 2 (read our separate review of House 2). Quite an impressive extra I'd have to say. Because House 2 is limited to the first 20,000 copies, it's not being included in my supplements rating. I'm scoring the House supplements with a B.
Another excellent transfer from Anchor Bay on the House DVD. Supplements are moderately enjoyable; I think some may be slightly disappointed in the commentary track. If you're a fan of the film, be sure to pickup this DVD. Remember, the first 20,000 copies will include House 2 as a free bonus!
Movie - B+
Image Quality - A-
Sound - B+
Supplements - B
- Running Time - 1 hour 32 minutes
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- Chapter stops
- Dolby Digital Mono, Closed Captioned
[list][*]Audio Commentary by director Steve Miner, producer Sean S. Cunningham, writer Ethan Wiley, actor William Katt[*]Making Of featurtte[*]Trailer[*]Production Stills[*]Liner notes by Anchor Bay's Michael Felsher[*]First 20,000 copies include a bonus disc with House 2: The Second Story (1987, 88 min.)