Written by Fred Dekker & Ethan Wiley
Directed by Steve Miner
Roger Cobb...William Katt
Following the suicide of his elderly aunt Elizabeth, author Roger Cobb moves into her house, where he was raised, in attempt to shake things up and overcome the writer's block that is threatening his career.
Roger has had his fair share of trauma. He's a shell-shocked Vietnam vet, recently divorced with a young son that has gone missing. When you tack the death of his beloved aunt onto this laundry list, it's no wonder that he's a little off-kilter. Who can blame the guy for hearing a few voices, and maybe seeing a few monsters?
So are these horrible visions the result of mental instability, or is the house truly haunted, as his supposedly senile aunt believed?
Well, this is the first film in a franchise, so I'll let you guess.
Rewatching this movie for the first time in many years, it's stunning how different it is than I remember. For starters, it's not neatly as frightening as I remember it being (but what is?), nor is it quite as serious and foreboding. There's definitely a dark sense of humor here that I didn't "get" as a child, and even when it is playing seriously, there's a certain mischievous cheese factor that brings out a smirk in me. Just look at these special effects!
I'm not going to lie: I am a true William Katt fan--he is and always will be THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO in my eyes--and I'm yet to see him in something that I haven't enjoyed on some level. House is no different, as he brings coolness and credibility to an outlandish scenario that is at times part Poltergeist, part Evil Dead, part House of Leaves.
George Wendt, ol' Normie Boy, is great too as the nosy neighbor, along with Big Beautiful Bald Bastard Richard Moll as a hardcore soldier with a taste for blood.
As already said, the special effects are kind of corny, but not in a sad "we tried and failed" kind of way, but in an appealing "Jim Henson Horror" kind of way. It's definitely part of its charm.
Although it no longer frightens me like it did when I was just a Boy Beatnik, and I can fully admit that nostalgia probably colors my perception, I can only now appreciate it for the underrated gem that it truly is.
"Solitude is always better with someone else around."