AKA: House III (1989) - International English Title
AKA: House 3 (1989) - Informal International English Title
AKA: House III: The Horror Show (1989) - UK Title
AKA: La Casa 7 (1989) - Italian Rip-Off Title
AKA: Evil Dead 7 (1989) - Informal Italian Rip-Off Title
AKA: La Casa III (1989) - Amnesia-born Italian Rip-Off Title
(Release Date: April 28, 1989)
A movie that fits NOWHERE in time,
has been shuffled in EVERYWHERE!
So, at a time or two I got into that awesome House series which kicked ASS! And man, I watched them all... House, House II: The Second Story, House IV and let me tell you...
Um, hang on... House, House II, House IV... um... I know I passed basic Math, what am I forgetting? Oh, yeah, where in the name of Timothy Fuck is House III?
It was fucking Nowhere, man! I looked everywhere (that one could look in a pre-internet environment, that is). Nobody had House III. I was even willing to buy the damned thing if I could find it. No store had it, nobody could order it. Were the Hollywood Dicks trying to get cute to fuck up a poor College aged horror fan?
Paranoid conspiracy theories aside... the answer is no. Or, rather, probably not. See, there was no House III... not in the United States, anyway. As for Hollywood getting cute... well... see the makers of the House series, namely producer Sean S. Cunningham, cinematographer Mac Ahlberg and composer Harry Manfredini created a totally unrelated film to their House duo!
That film is known as The Horror Show... in the United States. In England and some other countries it's known as House III!
That, and the fact that the makers of the next House movie had to skip a number because of this film, constitutes only the tip of the renaming iceberg. See, Bad Italian Horror distributors released the original The Evil Dead in Italy as La Casa and Evil Dead II as (drumroll) La Casa II. The fact that The THIRD Evil Dead film wouldn't be made for a few years caused three equally unrelated films to be released as La Casa 3, La Casa 4 and La Casa 5!
But then Laziness in Italy took hold again and they released House II as La Casa 6 and then, of course, The Horror Show/ House III as La Casa 7!
Sure I've told that story already in most of the reviews of these films but that story is, actually, more interesting than the story this film tells. Oh, it's not that it's all that bad, really... it's just not all that original... or good.
And it's not House that this film borrows from. There is so much plot pilfered from the Nightmare on Elm Street series that either Wes should have sued or Freddy should slash everybody in the place up!
You've got everything from the Serial Killer who can attack people in dreams (and their dream wounds become reality) to the creepy little blonde girl popping up all over to even the scary-ass furnace in the basement popping up in this horror show. And I thought Sean and Wes were friends.
Then again, I guess they'd have to be considering the fact that, in spite of these similarities, the bulk of the plot resembles a completely different Craven movie called Shocker which was released almost exactly six months AFTER The Horror Show!
Let's see, you've got Lance Henriksen playing the protective and proud husband and father Lucas McCarthy... who also happens to be a Police Detective dedicated to tracking down and stopping serial killer "Meat Cleaver Max" Jenke as played by Brion James!
What the good Detective doesn't realize (but anybody who has seen Shocker... or any other horror film... does) is that once Meat Clever Max goes to the Electric Chair and cooks like a Hot Dog, that's ONLY the beginning for his innate evil and soon his unquiet spirit is unstuck and roaming the Earth, free to create mischief (or just fuck with Lucas' family... which he does).
The rest of this film follows just about exactly what you would expect from a film like this. There's just enough Haunted House in this film to justify its alternate title and plenty of supernatural revenge-plot to help this thing feel incredibly familiar.
It doesn't hurt, either, that the actors in this film are largely very good (even if this hardly qualifies as their best performances). High-profile supporting actors James and Henriksen each make the most out of their rare starring roles in a feature film! Thom Bray is fine as Professor Peter Campbell, the guy who explains the bullshit plot to the other characters (and, thus, the audience). Rounding out Lucas' target family are his devoted yet long-suffering wife played by Rita Taggart, Ferengi-like son Aron Eisenberg and his super-sexy daughter Dedee Pfeiffer who is kind enough to give us a lovely nude shower scene!
Further, for the age, there are some pretty decent special effects in this film, believe it or not. The biggest problem here is that the script doesn't have enough freshness to it (and it feels even less-so since Shocker was released, fairly or unfairly). While director James Isaac and his uncredited, fired predecessor David Blyth (for whatever contribution of his remains) fail to truly bring a very scary film to the screen, writers Leslie Bohem and Allyn Warner failed to bring enough to the table for the actors and director(s) to work with. Warner, a former writer for The Tonight Show, for his part, seemed to realize this was the case and went credited on this film under the name... Alan Smithee!
Inclusion in (and, thus, comparisons to) the House series only serve to make The Horror Show look like a worse movie. While neither "predecessor" is perfect, both were witty and fun with much more than the sum of their parts thanks to some sharp directing, good acting and above average scripting. The Horror Show has some pretty decent acting in it, sure, but lacks these other elements that could otherwise have pushed it to higher ground. On the other hand, its inclusion into (and, thus, comparison to) the La Casa series (at least La Casa 3, 4 and 5) stand to make this a vastly better film that lacks almost NOTHING the lame-ass La Casa films lack. Damn... those things are ABUNDANTLY LACKING, man!
Still, taken as House III, La Casa 7 or The Horror Show, the subject of this review gets a disappointing (but predictable) Two and One Half Stars out of Five! The acting saves it (especially when James seems to be having the time of his life) but there is simply too much saving for one man to do in this movie. See you in the next reel, hauntlings!
Well VENGEANCE IS MINE...
I haven't reviewed it yet...
That is, unless you're reading this from the far future, in which case...
I wonder if I'm dead!
Ah, well, if so, I'm probably haunting some place, so I'll still see you in the next reel!
But... click HERE for more reviews first.
reviewed by J.C. Mašek III
Who is totally responsible for the content of this site
And for the fact that even if it's the best seat in the house, he still won't sit in that electric chair!
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