Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The House Where Evil Dwells (1982)

The House Where Evil Dwells

Written by Robert Suhosky
Directed by Kevin Connor
Based on the novel by James Hardiman

Ted...Edward Albert
Laura...Susan George
Alex...Doug McClure
Otami...Mako Hattori

In 1840 Kyoto, Japan, a Samurai warrior catches his wife bedding down with another man.  Enraged, he cuts them both down and then kills himself harikari style.  These spirits, unable to rest, are still going strong some 130 years later when an American family moves in.

Ted is a journalist who has uprooted his beautiful wife Laura and young daughter Amy in search of a story.  His best friend Alex, who resides in Japan, found them the house for a real bargain.  Because, he says, the place is haunted.

And sure enough, in no time at all strange things begin to happen: lights turn on and off by themselves, water faucets behave as if they have a mind of their own, and Ted catches brief glimpses of three people who aren't there from the corner of his eye.

It goes far beyond this relatively harmless specteral horseplay, though, as the spirit of Otami the slain woman enters into Laura's body for brief moments, just long enough to make a suggestive comment to her husband's best friend, planting a seed of lust in his mind.

The very nature of this film brings up a number of questions that beg to be answered.  For instance,  is Otami just a spirit slut who gets off on banging her hubby's buddies, or does she have no choice, forced to repeat her sins over and over again even in death?  And was the attraction and sexual tension between Alex and Laura always there, or was it created by Otami?  And, perhaps most importantly, how did Ben grow such a sensational mustache?

The world may never know.

Perhaps loosely inspired by Japanese folklore traditions, this movie still very much feels like an American horror movie in a Japanese setting...because that's what it is.  Suitably shot, well acted, and backed by a great score, it just barely fails to live up to the beauty of the opening scene.

I'm not usually much of a fan of haunted house films, but this one I quite enjoyed.  Maybe it's because I'm a sucker for the whole Zen/Buddhism thing (despite the fact that it goes completely against my lifestyle of chemicals, excesses, and bitter hedonism), and that whole vibe ran throughout this movie both in scenery and character...albeit a probably bastardized and Americanized version of the aesthetic.  In fact, the actual House (you know, the one where evil dwells) is pretty much my dream home, haunted or not.  If I knew how to calculate dollars into Yen, I'd be all over that.

A solid and different take on the haunted house genre.  Well worth a watch once you get tired of the American versions of Ringu, Ju-On, etc.

View the trailer below!

Rated R
88 Minutes
United States/Japan

"It Never Forgives Or Forgets"


  1. Oh wow. The first time I saw this film, I think I was probably 16, and I LOATHED it. I felt like the buildup took too long and the payoff too small. I have this movie somewhere in my DVD-R spindles (I think they played this on FLIX a while back). Hmm, maybe I'll give it another shot. I do loves me some Susan George!

  2. Never heard of this one. Will have to check it out.

  3. I might have to give this another shot, too. The first time through, the spirits hootin' and hollerin' like a bad ad for Benny Hanna's kinda soured me on it.

  4. I've always enjoyed this one although a lot of people rip on it. The location shooting, the whole nature of the story and the cast. You got the king of the monster movies Doug McClure, Edward 'GALAXY OF TERROR' Albert and Susan George whose exploitation credits are looong.

  5. Ive always heard of the title but this is the first review ive read, will add it to the ever growing list of films to see before Crippled Creek!

  6. Richard & Planet of Terror--if you ever getting around to viewing it, let me know what you think.

    Venom5--Glad I'm not the only one who is a fan of this one. You're right, it does seem to get a lot of razzing.

    Carl--I still shudder every time I hear the words "Crippled" and "Creek" uttered in the same sentence.



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