Ghosthouse has nothing to do with House or House 2. Then again, it also has nothing to with Evil Dead or Evil Dead 2, movies that are known as La Casa and La Casa II in Italy. But hey, who is keeping score? As you’ll learn before the end of the week, the next two La Casa movies have nothing to do with this one, either!
Director Umberto Lenzi (Eaten Alive!, Nightmare City) directed this Joe D’Amoto production, which was filmed in the same house as Fulci’s House by the Cemetery!
The film starts in the past, right after Henrietta has killed her pet cat. Her father locks her down in the basement, along with her creepy clown doll. He tells his wife that their daughter has to be possessed by the devil, but before they can make a move, she kills dad with an axe to the head and explodes a mirror, sending shards into the eye of her mother, Fulci style. Holy shit, this movie hasn’t even started yet and it goes for the jugular!
Let’s meet our hero. Paul Rodgers is just your typical guy. He does data entry via ham radio, with his call letters proudly on top of his set-up, made with a wooden router, like something your aunt would have in her house that smells like liver. All he wants to do is sit on the bed and eat chili with his girlfriend, Martha, except he keeps hearing cries for help over the radio.
Also — I should mention that all of the dialogue in this film sounds like it’s being said by complete maniacs, adding to my enjoyment of the film. It also has moments of insane dialogue padding — by that I mean, Paul discussing Simon Le Bon with a female ham operator or asking who is more popular in Denver, Kim Basinger or Kelly LeBrock.
They track the signal to the house we saw at the beginning (throughout the film, I kept yelling, “It’s Dr. Freudenstein’s house! Stay out of his house!” but no one listened) and meet another ham radio operator. Obviously, ham radio was the internet of the 80’s. As they walk on the porch, Martha says that the house has an evil aura (her thick accent makes translating her nonsensical dialogue a master’s class in Italian exploitation dialogue divination) and refuses to go in. Paul just says, “Yeah, fuck it. Fuck. It.” and goes in.
They meet the Dalens, Jim, Mark and Tina, along with Susan. These friends have been interested in the house and Jim may have been the ham radio operation that Paul heard scream. Don’t get too used to anyone — anyone involved dies horribly, like a flying fan blade to the throat, a hammer to the brain, getting chopped in half, being hung and even the basement floor splitting apart to reveal a milky substance that works like acid. Even a wacky hitchhiker who walks through the house looking for silver to steal gets wacked. Man, even Paul gets killed in the film’s shock twist ending as he gets smooshed by a bus.
It’s all Henrietta’s fault. She’s the kid we saw kill her parents earlier and she just keeps it up. Why? Well, her father stole a clown doll from another child’s coffin and gave it to her. You know how these things happen.
There’s a completely deranged scene where Martha finds the doll, leading to paper rabbits, feathers and other toys attacking, ending with the doll sneaking up behind Martha and trying to choke her. Becca yelled, “No wonder this girl turned bad. Her toys are shitty!”
You even get Donald O’Brien (Dr. Butcher M.D. himself!) as Valkos, a hitchhiker/backwoods weirdo/the old guy that warns kids. Here, he stalks and kills at random, including the aforementioned hammer to the head kill, after which he shuts the coffin lid on a still alive mortician.
You like severed heads? You like ghost dogs? You like dialogue about Jack the Ripper and the Salem Witch Trials that makes no sense? You like policemen in over their heads spewing jargon-filled exposition? How do you feel about explosions and maggots? Or synthesized sounds that repeat over and over until they make you feel trapped like the characters in the film? Then guess what? I’ve got the film for you.
In case you didn’t pick it up from the context clues, I love this movie!