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Friday, June 10, 2011

Ghosthouse (1988) Horror Ghost

Ghosthouse (1988) - A film that is not quite what you think, okay maybe it is but it is not half bad. The Ghosthouse in question in real life sits in the town of Scituate MA, it is the same house used for the bizarre "House by the Cemetery". Being set in Massachusetts there are some very recognizable locations in the film but lets start with the curse that begins it. In a good bit of writing the screenwriter keeps the secret of "why" a curse is formed in this house while leading the viewer in a particular direction holding back information. We do get the initial incident, a creepy music from a little girls clown doll. We hear the screech of a cat and the father searches for the sound. He is looking for his daughter Henrietta and finally enters the cellar and finds the killed cat. Henrietta is standing with scissors in one hand and the doll in the other. The father Sam Baker (Alain Smith) scolds her verbally assaulting her with religious rhetoric. Angered he tells her she must be punished and seals her in the cellar with no light. Is this girl a heartless killer? Upstairs in the kitchen the husband and wife worry about her. Then things get weird, the light bulb seem to start warping and expanding. Then it explodes, Sam starts cleaning it up, from behind him comes an ax. Has little Henrietta (Kristen Fougerousse) gotten out of the basement? Mom (Susan Muller) sees the mirror in her room warping as she stares it shatters outward and fills her face with glass. Screaming she does not even see the knife coming as it slashes her throat. Shift to a shot of the girl in the cellar. So she never got out, but what is happening here?
20 years later at Fanuil Hall Boston we watch Martha (Lara Wendel) move to a phone to call her boyfriend Paul (Greg Scott). It is a really out of place and meaningless scene but it introduces Martha and Paul. He is a ham radio operator and computer scientist and that night relays a story to her about a strange voice on his radio. We are lucky that it happens again that night while a recorder is handy. Paul insists he can figure out where the voice is from. It sounds like an emergency with the voice saying "Who are you? What do you want? For God's sake somebody help me. help. help.." Then he screams and we hear a second scream in a woman's voice. This mystery leads them to the house, the radio the message they recorded was in the attic. There is a bit of introducing characters here, Susan (Mary Sellers), Mark (Ron Houck), Jim (Martin Jay) and Tina (Kate Silver) are a group staying in a truck camper on the grounds of the house. They are on vacation the yard of the old creepy house just happens to be where they rented to stay? We also get to see the crazy grounds keeper name Valkos (Donald O'Brien) who scares Martha and then runs off into the woods. Jim is the owner of the radio and the voice in the recorded message but is clear that he did not send it. In fact he says he couldn't have because although he has the radio set up in the attic for better reception, he had yet to set up the antennae. While the guys are looking at things Martha hears that really creepy music and wanders to the cellar to find the source. The horror scene that follows is great and scary but no need to ruin it here with details. Needless to say when Martha screams everyone comes running. The group comes up with a plan to try to figure out the strange radio call and sure enough things are going to be bad. What they do is only important because it accomplishes getting the group split up. Susan, Martha and Paul are out away from the house couple miles listening to the radio while the others are back at the place. It sets it up so that in real time the recorded message can be played out. It is ghostly and we now know the original message was a premonition on tape. So with this development the idea of the supernatural events is cemented for the characters in the story. We as an audience already know the score and now just wonder why everyone keeps going back in the haunted fucking house. Both Tina (who is the scream on the recording) and Mark end up in the house during Jim's event. Valkos comes and I think it is his doberman who traps Mark upstairs while he tracks Tina down in the basement and tries to kill her with a butcher knife. She flees and is saved by Mark who got out an upper window, the crazy groundskeeper runs off and Mark pursues him only to be pitchforked in the barn. Luckily he also is saved by the returning Paul. WOW! Its not over though, Mark needs to go to the hospital and that means the group splitting yet again. This time the sedated Tina is being watched by Martha while the others take Mark to the hospital. Not to resist getting in trouble Martha just keeps going into that damn house. This time up to Henrietta's room. Searching through the toy chest she sees the creepy ass clown doll and is only saved from being choked out by it when Paul arrives back. This is some crazy shit but all needed to further the plot. You see when the police come the next day the story is about NOT believing a ghost story, but are believing the former mental patient turned grounds keeper is responsible for the shenanigans. The kids are all properly scolded and left to mourn while the cops clear out leaving the scene for the night. You would think that the cops would set a patrol car out there or something? Another night of trouble is in store as Martha and Paul race to find the resting place of the little girl and evil spirit doll. Back at the house the camper group is terrorized after the camper won't start. Each in turn are drawn back into the house and bad things follow. Without giving too much away let me say the gore factor increases as the camper group fights for survival in the Ghosthouse. Paul and Martha fight off Valkos while trying to destroy the corpse of the girl and doll. The Campers try to survive the ghostly terror of the house. We find out the origins of the curse and even get a freaky ending. Overall the acting is pretty poor in this with most of the crew having only this credit. I liked the writing and even with its many plot holes the film is a scary fun gory ride. Umberto Lenzi does a decent job directing with some great music by Piero Montari who appears to have worked mostly composing music for the porn industry. Writer Cinthia McGavin with Lenzi and dialog from Shiela Goldberg (although the dialog is the weakest part) should get some credit for telling a satisfying ghost story.
Rating (6.0) 5.0 and up are recommended in the Zombiegrrlz system I say Rent It!

1 comment:

  1. I saw the film when I was 10 and I got so fucking scared that I could not sleep during the whole night. When someone asks me the "one film that scared you for life" I always refers to this movie. Seeing the damn clown still makes me hear the music that´s associated and get a little... Ugh...