“ Genre: Horror / Theatrical Release: 1989 / Suitable for 18 years and over / Director: Umberto Lenzi / Actors: Lara Wendel, Greg Scott, Mary Sellers, Ron Houck, Martin Jay ... / DVD released 2004-03-01 at Vipco / Features of the DVD: PAL „
* Prices may differ from that shown
RELEASED: 1988, Cert. 18
DIRECTOR: Umberto Lenzi
PRODUCER: Joe D'Amato
SCREENPLAY: Umberto Lenzi, Cinthia McGavin & Sheila Goldberg
MUSIC: Piero Montanari
Lara Wendel as Martha
Greg Scott as Paul
Ron Houck as Mark
Mary Sellers as Susan
Kate Silver as Tina
Martin Jay as Jim
Donald O'Brien as Valkos
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Ghosthouse begins with a father discovering that his little girl has killed the family pet cat. After he reprimands her, she lurches towards him with an axe and kills him. When mum comes to see what all the fuss is about, the little girl bumps her off too.
The film then jumps forward by twenty years, and we see CB radio ham Paul picking up some disturbing signals which he records, then decides - with his girlfriend - to track down where they are coming from. Their journey takes them to an isolated old house in the countryside which as they begin to explore, together with a trio of teens who have suddenly decided to camp out there, very odd things happen inside....and, who is the little girl dressed in white clutching a creepy clown doll?
From the outset, it is glaringly apparent that Ghosthouse is made on a strictly limited budget. I could see that the direction/production team perhaps were trying to create what they believed would turn out to be a gripping chiller and I managed to home in on the point near the beginning of the film where I was supposed to be scared and drawn into the storyline, but they did it all wrong.
As the film progresses, it just becomes a huge mish-mash of disjointed scenes whereby it isn't clear why, apart from our radio ham and his girlfriend, anybody was at the house.
The only thing which is mildly scary in Ghosthouse is some rather eerie music which accompanies the scenes featuring the little girl with her life-sized toy clown. Well, it is eerie at first, but it keeps repeating throughout the film and quickly becomes irritating rather than creepy. The main musical score is mostly electronically created, but isn't very impressive at all, not blending with or enhancing the atmosphere in the slightest.
The very worst part of Ghosthouse just has to be the acting. It is truly awful, flat, wooden, lifeless, and isn't assisted by an equally dire script. It wouldn't be so bad if the atrocious acting and script were laughable, but they aren't. I really have no idea where the actors in this film were dragged up from, but they honestly should have gone back to their day jobs and forget all about the silver screen.....maybe they did, as I don't think I've seen them in anything else.
There are some scenes of quite nasty violence in Ghosthouse (of the slasher variety), but they are poorly put across to the point where you can see that various cutting implements are striking off to the side of the victims rather than full-on. In fact, I feel the film would have come across a little better were the violence omitted altogether, with the creepy element being concentrated on rather than blood, gore and murder.
However, despite my intense dislike of Ghosthouse, its shoddy presentation, bizarrely awful acting, the lifeless script and the annoying music, I do have to say that I can see some potential in there.....just that it has been so very badly and cheaply mis-handled. The film needs a good makeover which would ground the bitty story activity, a decent cast and a complete re-working of the script. The music needs to be re-written by somebody who knows how to create a chilling atmosphere through using synthesized sounds....and to completely oust that irritating ditty which is repeated every time the little girl and her toy clown take the stage.
As I write this review, I am still reeling from the sheer, utter awfulness of Ghosthouse as it stands and contrary to my normal set of beliefs and standards, I wish it would either vanish into the ethos forever, or for a competent team of directors/producers and actors to strip it down to its barest bones and start all over again with a total re-make. Something vaguely entertaining could perhaps then be gleaned from what is an extremely dire film.
Would I recommend Ghosthouse? Absolutely not! I have seen some awful horror films in my time, but this one surely must take the accolade for being one of the very worst ever. Should anybody decide to give it a viewing, I warn that they don't make barge-poles long enough! It is insufferably dreary, disconnected, boring, hammy and totally fails at bringing out any potentially scary elements within the storyline.
At the time of writing, Ghosthouse can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-
New: only one copy currently available @ £5.90
Used: from £2.54 to £5.40
Some DVDs on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn't apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
Twenty years ago I got my first ever movie exclusive, having ordered the movie Spookies from mail order firm VideoBuyMail (now defunct) I discovered a little gem, or so I thought at the time. While the video tape claimed to be Spookies, what the movie transpired to be was the new Umberto Lenzi movie Ghosthouse, even before the launch of the movie in its native Italy. I was not part of this exclusive club it seemed the video's producers a low budget company called Avatar had accidentally been recording from the wrong tape, and the tape itself had only been sent to them as a potential buy. I of course did what any self respecting individual would do, and decided to report the fact to the company I purchased it from. Except I skipped on the truth slightly telling them they had sent me a blank tape, and went to all the hassle of changing the reels in the videos case with a black video reel. Maybe I contributed in a company's downfall, but hey I was young and we are all a bit naughty sometimes. The point for my story so far is that I must have felt that Ghosthouse was so good to encourage me to commit this offence.
When Vipco announced the DVD release I rushed out and bought a copy. Despite actually getting the DVD some 6 years ago it has taken me till now to watch the DVD, I simply forgot all about it. What I learned from my viewing however is that 20 years ago I must have been quite sad to have gone to so much effort over a movie like this.
In a house in the middle of nowhere a disturbed child kills the pet cat, after a good telling off by her father she goes one step further and kills him and her mother too. A hundred odd miles away a CB radio enthusiast picks up a strange transmission, a creepy nursery rhyme style chant, and the sounds of a terrible murder. Strangely enough though the murder that has been heard has yet to occur.
Sometimes memories are better than the reality, and having glanced around the internet it seems I'm not alone in my views, people having fond memories of the movie only to see it X years down the line and dislike it intensely.
I cannot put into words how much I disliked this movie, but I'll have a pretty good try. Firstly the story itself is just bizarre, one of those stories that if you zone out for a few minutes you completely lose the plot of what's going on, and to be perfectly honest you care even less too. One minute the leads are in the city, and then the country, then back again; in between having lovers spats. You might think this is a trick of clever script-writing; this really is not the case however. The story skips at great rate through a series of killings, all of which are seemingly unexplained, without purpose.
The cast are a pretty odd bunch, this is a rare oddity, an Italian movie without any Italian cast, and there are British, French, German, Spanish and American but no Italians at all. Don't go thinking this adds to the quality, believe me this is not the case, not only can the cast not act; it's often difficult to tell them apart, at least in the young cast anyway. The one exception to this was Tina played by Kate Silver, this young actress was clearly annoying and clearly one you wait for her demise, sadly she is a minor and it soon becomes apparent that if everyone else in the movie is destined to die she will not be one of them.
The movie has one distressing factor, and its only UK viewers that will get this. From the 80's backwards to the birth of television on BBC channels we had something called the testcard; this was shown in hours when there was no television channels. During which an image of a girl with a doll would grace our screens. While the doll in Ghosthouse differs dramatically, the girl and the resemblance is striking, that innocent thing from my youth was a killer!!!
The movie is terribly dull; highlights include one of the hero's falling through a floor into a pool of milk, or something worse. His reward for surviving this terror is a brutal butchering by his girlfriend who assumes him to be some sort of fiend.
The movies score is awful, the same repetitive music haunts the movie frequently, I mean every 5 minutes or so. Then to add insult to injury we have the "chant" a sort of nursery rhyme that is used to address impending danger what the rhyme's lyrics are is unclear but I tend to think of it being something along the lines of "Hello baby baby hello baby baby baby" all done in a voice that sounds like a frog inhaling helium.
Ghosthouse is devoid of anything redeeming, I find it the worst example of a bad director's career; it flaps around making a lot of noise but ultimately flounders in a pool of its own bile.
There are some interesting facts surrounding the movie however, when released in Italy it was launched as La Casa 3, the Evil Dead movies being launched as La Casa and La Casa 2 (this was before Army Of Darkness), apparently the movie cashed in on the back of this. Asecond interesting factor isthat despite the fact that Umberto Lenzi was not the best of the Italian directors, he was still a highly bankable name, however for Ghosthouse he assumed the identity as Hubert Humphrey, was this to link the movie with America (giving it an American theme) or was it that he realised the movie was so bad that he never wanted to put his name to it?
If you're tempted into the phenomenal world of Italian horror, which is a journey any horror fan should take; Ghosthouse is not a place to start or end, it's simply a place to avoid with a bargepole.
The movie released on the now defunct Vipco label is available from the likes of Amazon and Play for £3-£4 there are no special features, just a few trailers for other Vipco movies.