The arrival of HOUSE IV no doubt caused confusion among genre fans who wondered what happened to HOUSE III. The former was retitled THE HORROR SHOW for domestic release, and to avoid confusion between the US and overseas markets, the latter was titled HOUSE IV. All clear? In any case, this entry, unlike the two previous unrelated follow-ups, directly continues...read more
The arrival of HOUSE IV no doubt caused confusion among genre fans who wondered what happened to HOUSE III. The former was retitled THE HORROR SHOW for domestic release, and to avoid confusion between the US and overseas markets, the latter was titled HOUSE IV. All clear?
In any case, this entry, unlike the two previous unrelated follow-ups, directly continues the story of the original HOUSE. William Katt returns as haunted-homeowner Roger Cobb, who has not aged appreciably even though he has a new wife, Kelly (Terri Treas), with whom he has a twelve-year-old
daughter, Laurel (Melissa Clayton). He's not around for very long, as he and his family get into a bad car accident while visiting their summer house. Laurel winds up confined to a wheelchair after the crash, while Roger is so badly burned that Kelly forces herself to have his life-support turned
off. She and Laurel then move back into the summer house, which she sets about renovating. Soon, however, Kelly is plagued by terrifying supernatural apparitions and visions of Roger's death in the hospital. She's also being hounded by Roger's ne'er-do-well brother Burke (Scott Burkholder), who
seems uncommonly anxious to get his hands on the house; he's in cahoots with a grotesque little man called Mr. Grosso (Mark Gash), who wants the land the house sits on for his toxic waste-disposing needs.
After the ghostly visions (including one which almost causes Kelly to stab Laurel to death in her sleep) become too much for her to stand, Kelly visits a local Indian shaman, who reveals that the house is indeed built over sacred ground. Yet the land is the site of positive energy, a healing
spring that's bubbled up through the floorboards in the basement. Soon Kelly is once again visited by spirits--but this time, they are the specters of two of Grosso's thugs, whom Kelly follows to the top of a nearby hill. There she witnesses a replay of the car accident that crippled Laurel and
killed Roger, and which was actually caused by a rifle shot from one of the goons.
It's not long before the gunmen make a return visit to the house for real, but the spirit, which Kelly now realizes is that of Roger, trying to frighten her away from the house and out of danger, causes the thugs to shoot each other. As Burke arrives to claim the house himself, the spring in the
basement roils over and finally bursts through the house like a geyser; as Kelly drags Laurel to safety, its healing waters fall upon the girl's legs and restore her ability to walk. Burke manages to escape as well, but the spirit has one final trick in store and leads him into the arms of the
Avoiding the lame silliness of HOUSE II and the gruesome literalness of THE HORROR SHOW/HOUSE III, this new installment manages to capture some of the balance between scares and humor that made the original HOUSE entertaining. It may not be quite believable that the combination of the ghostly
attacks and Burke's increasingly threatening visits doesn't drive heroine Kelly away from the titular dwelling, but it is nice to see a genre film in which the heroine braves her terrors alone and doesn't depend on a male savior.
Director Lewis Abernathy and screenwriters Geof Miller (who penned DEEPSTAR SIX with Abernathy) and Deirdre Higgins build nicely on the mystery as to what's behind the hauntings: if it's Katt's ghost, why is he malevolent? The ultimate explanation, while not entirely plausible in context,
pleasingly combines the supernatural with the psychological, and some of the hauntings are effectively scary (like the scene where Kelly almost stabs Laurel) and funny (Kane Hodder, famous among horror fans for playing Jason in the last two FRIDAY THE 13TH films, turns up as the face in a talking
There are a few logical loopholes allowed to slip through in the interest of the drama; the potential of the magic spring to heal the crippled Laurel quickly becomes apparent to the audience, but the movie saves it for the emotional climax. And although the balance of horror and comedy is pretty
consistent inside the dwelling, HOUSE IV often becomes really loopy when it ventures outside. A particular case in point is the scenes involving Mr. Grosso and his goons, which look like they were lifted from a Warner Bros. cartoon. The thugs act like the ones who used to threaten Bugs Bunny, and
the lead villain (who likes to listen to Mozart's "Concerto de Grosso") disguises his nefarious activities by having "NON-" painted onto barrels labeled "TOXIC WASTE." There's also a bit based on Grosso's health problems that's one of the most disgusting things seen in recent movies.
While sometimes fun, this material doesn't jibe at all with the rest of the film, and some of the screenplay's events strain credibility even given the supernatural elements. But HOUSE IV has enough good stuff in it to elevate it above many recent sequels and make it worth a look. (Violence, adultsituations, profanity.)
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