Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

There have been three movies in the House sequence, of which only the first is of interest.

1. House US movie (1986). New World. Pr Sean S Cunningham. Dir Steve Miner. Creature spfx James Cummins, Backwood Film. Mechanical spfx Tassilo Baur. Vfx Dream Quest Images. Screenplay Ethan Wiley. Starring William Katt (Roger Cobb), Richard Moll (Big Ben), Mary Stavin (Tanya), George Wendt (Harold Gordon). 93 mins. Colour.

Divorced Horror novelist Roger moves into the house where his Aunt Elizabeth recently suicided and where, longer ago, his son Jimmy mysteriously vanished. Elizabeth's Ghost soon appears to warn him the house is Evil. She is wrong: it is possessed (see Possession) by the vengeful spirit of Roger's psychopathic army buddy Big Ben, tortured to death by the Viet Cong. While learning this Roger encounters Poltergeist effects, closet-dwelling Monsters, Shapeshifters and his neighbours to either side, the alarmingly helpful Harold and the bedroom-eyed single mother Tanya. A terrifying surreal painting reveals that Jimmy is trapped behind a bathroom Mirror; this Roger smashes to find a Portal into a pitch-dark otherness, at length rescuing Jimmy from the midst of a Vietnam jungle. Passing back through a different portal, the garden swimming pool, they reach what seems safety until the undead Big Ben appears for a final confrontation.

The overriding quality of H is its energetic inventiveness, its confident rapid-fire exploitation of rafts of fantasy notions, some of which are unusually sophisticated for low-budget Horror Movies, especially Haunted-Dwelling movies – its blending of past, present and otherly Realities becomes almost like the shuffling of a deck of cards.

2. The two follow-ups have been House II: The Second Story (1987) and House III: The Horror Show (1989). Neither bear relation to 1. [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.