I have no idea how to explain this movie to you. There are moments that are pure ridiculousness. There are scenes filled with amateur hour acting and effects. And then there’s an ending that is powerful and shocking. It’s really a rough one to figure out. I loved it — but it’s another in a long line of movies that I don’t recommend to anyone but the people I know who will get it.
The old VHS box explains it like this: “A group of college students on holiday become prey for a killer and his two sadistic and demented sons. One son, an unlicensed doctor, is mentally unhinged by destructive brain parasites. The other son, a shy and lonely psychopath, falls in love with a dead girl. While the insane boys are blundering through their destructive rampage, the father stalks the night with random violence. Though he is shot, beaten, and run over by a car, the maniac cannot be defeated.
One by one the students enter the horror house, where they must face the malignant forces left behind by unnatural scientific experimentations. They are hunted down, tortured and eliminated until only one girl is left to fight for her life against the trio of murderers.
Directed by the notorious rock video maker, Richard Casey, Horror House on Highway 5 is filled with strange humor and wild action.”
We go from a typical slasher murder right to a classroom, where he assigns three of his students to go to Littletown and investigate Bartholomew, a dead Nazi rocket scientist and make model rockets.
The most studious of the kids, Louise, goes to interview Dr. Mabuser, who is the one with bugs in his head. His brother (or partner) Gary falls in love with her, but they still use an iron to sear her breast in some Nazi black magic rite. While that’s going on, Sally and Mike go to the quarry to smoke weed and make model rockets. And then there’s the whole matter of the guy in the Richard Nixon mask who can’t be killed (and who is listed as Ronald Reagan in the credits).
Obviously, no one paid for the music used in this film, as it has everything from “Rumble” by Link Wray to acid rock to violins to surf rock like The Safaris to The Dictators and The Count Five playing “Psychotic Reaction.”
And then the ending! Seriously, the last two minutes of this film, where one of the victims thinks that she has escaped, feels like the movie that Rob Zombie has always wanted to make.
Director Richard Casey was behind several music videos for bands like Blue Oyster Cult, whose songs are said to have coded messages relating to The Process Church. In 2014, he directed a spiritual sequel, Horror House on Highway 6, which is about the following: “A college student is injured by a malfunctioning soda machine on Highway 6. His fellow students take him to a doctor who lives in a basement bomb shelter and awaits the second coming of Elvis Presley. They can’t leave, and a killer stalks them with an ax.”
You can check this out for yourself on Amazon Prime or order the Vinegar Syndrome lovingly restored blu-ray. They claim that it’s one of the most confusing and compelling homemade horror films ever made. They’re right. You can also grab it at Diabolik DVD, but stock is limited!