Monday, October 4, 2021

radio daze.

Day 4 of 31 Days of Horror and it's time for some kid friendly terrors.

Well I say kid friendly but that's only because there's a child in it.

And only for about 10 minutes.

Honestly I've really not thought this thru'.


Saying that tho' it's not like anyone is actually reading this.

Ghost House (AKA La Cassa 3. 1988).
Dir: Umberto Lenzi.
Cast: Lara Wendel, Greg Scott, Mary Sellers, Ron Houck, Martin Jay, Kate Silver, Alain Smith, Kristen Fougerousse, Susan Muller and Donald O'Brian.

Who are you? What do you want? For God's sake... somebody help me... help... aarghh!

Somewhere just outside sunny Boston the pigtailed, pug nosed and prepubescent princess Henrietta Baker (Fougerousse, bless you) is celebrating her birthday by pounding her pussy to death in the cellar.

Which got my attention and, it seems the attention of her God fearing father Sam (former Interzone dwarf Smith) who fires off a few Jesus based insults at her before turning off the lights and locking her down there.

Luckily she has a (quite possibly demoniacally possessed) clown puppet for company.

Back upstairs Sam continues to rant religiously whilst his hard done to (and harsh faced) wife (Muller whom you may recall as the voice of Muriel in Cenerentola '80) just nods her head and frowns.

Michaela Strachan realizes too late that Pete Waterman's van is not full of sweets.

Suddenly things take a change for the bizarre, firstly the dining room light bulb starts to warp before exploding, poor old Sam has an axe put thru' his skull whilst the mirror explodes leaving Mum (who if I'm honest was no great looker to begin with) with her face full of broken glass.

Don't worry tho' as help is on hand to ease her pain when an unseen assailant kindly cuts her throat.

Meanwhile in the cellar Henrietta sits hugging her clown.

"Aye hen!"

Jumping forward in time (with a wheezing, groaning sound) 20 years and the frighteningly plainly dressed Martha (Wendel best known as the sexy teen in the tiny skirt from Tenebrae and who scarily seems to turn up quite a lot on this blog, go on see if you can find her - there's a prize) is on the phone to her boyfriend Paul (Star Wars video game voice Scott), a ham radio enthusiast cum computer programmer desperately trying to organize what time she should head round for dinner.

Exciting stuff I'm sure you'll agree.

But Paul has other things on his mind as it appears that the previous night he picked up a strange message on his radio, a mysterious voice shouting 

"Who are you? What do you want? For God's sake somebody help me!....."

followed by an ear piercing scream.

Luckily the same message is broadcast again that night allowing Paul to record it, giving him ample opportunity to discover where the broadcast came from, which by some strange quirk of fate (or storytelling) is the old Baker house from the films opening.

How weird is that?

Dominic Cumming's fancy dress outfit was a big hit at the local school Christmas party.

After picking up (and dropping off) a jive talking, satin jacketed hitch-hiker our daring duo arrive at the house to find not only a bow-legged loon named Valkos (Doctor Butcher himself, O'Brien) tending to the weeds (in between threatening folk with a spade obviously) but a radio set up in the attic.


It appears that this radio belongs to fellow broadcaster Jim (singer cum producer Jay, who's worked with everyone from Take That to Cockney Rebel) who along with his pals, the brassy biker chick Susan (Stage Fright and Eleven Days, Eleven Nights vixen Sellers), ginger prince Mark (Ex-cartoon chihuahua Houck from the Christopher Cazenove sitcom Ticket To Ride) and his troubled teen sister Tina (Silver, a kinda sexier, sleazier Hilary Swank with a fine line in stone wash denim) are enjoying a weekend camping out the grounds of the house.

I say camping but they're all living in a van about the size of my house parked on the front lawn, kids eh?

Kate Silver, a chin made for chiseling and a mooth made for shite-in. In.

 After explaining the whole situation Paul is confused to discover that although it sounds like Jim on the message he couldn't have sent it, seeing as he hasn't as yet set up the antennae.

 Oeerr missis.

After a few minutes collectively rubbing their chins the group comes up with a plan to try to figure out the strange radio message and, no doubt seal their fate.

Is it just me who thinks that things are going to go very bad?

Well let's see what Paul's plan involves shall we?

He decides that himself,  Susan and Martha should drive a couple of miles up the road (?) and listen for the signal from there whilst Jim, Mark and Tina split up and wander around the house in the dark.

"Guess what? I'm 15 and love Linkin Park get your webcam on and your top off!"

It doesn't come as too much of a surprise when the message turns out to be some scary premonition from the future, a future where poor old Jim is downed by a ghostly fan blade, Mark is menaced by a horny looking Doberman and an already shot to fuck Tina is chased by an axe wielding Valkos.

Luckily the dog (being short sighted) mistakes a table leg for Mark giving him time to escape thru' an upstairs window and chase Valkos into the bushes just as Paul and company return.


After following Valkos to his shed, the mental muckraker manages to overpower Mark and pin him to the wall with a pitchfork but as he goes in for the kill (or a sneaky kiss...who knows?) Paul bursts in and renders Valkos unconscious with one well placed punch to the kidneys.

And with this everyone heads back to the house to find out where Jim has gotten to, giving the gruesome gardener ample time to escape into the trees.

"Put it in me!"

Searching the house Martha finds herself in Henrietta's bedroom where after rummaging thru' an old toy box she comes across (not in that way, tho' it'd be worth a shot) the creepy clown doll from the movie's opening.

As if by magic (or wires) the room bursts into life as the clown attempts to strangle our heroine and various toys buzz around the room in a fairly slipshod manner reminiscent of a school production of Poltergeist.

Or what the actual film would have been like if Tobe Hooper had really directed it.

Paul - being the films hero - hears his girlfriends screams and arrives in time to save her from a deadly death by clown whilst the others are lucky enough to be the ones to find Jim's still warm (and oozing) corpse.

With all this death and the like going on it's not long before our motley crew decide to call the police, who turn up and tell the kids off for trespassing before blaming Jim's death on poor old Valkos who it transpires is a former mentalist who was given the groundskeeper job upon leaving the local asylum.

Well, if you skip the opening sequence and forget about the haunted radio signal and demonic clown it kind of makes sense in a Scooby Doo way I suppose.

Emu's revenge on Rod Hull was not a pleasant sight.

Bidding their farewells and heading back to Boston, Paul remains unconvinced with the police's explanation of events so sets out (much to Martha's chagrin) to discover the house's horrible history  and the relevance of the creepy clown whilst back at the house Mark, Susan and Tina are having troubles of their own.

Nightfall is approaching, the van wont start and Tina needs a poo.

Unfortunately the only working toilet is in the (ghost) house.

As Paul and Martha race back to the house with vital information regarding the haunting, Mark and his buddies find themselves trapped whilst somewhere in the bushes a vicious Valkos is determined to kill anyone who has appeared on screen for no other reason that it'd be a laugh.

Expect bloodshed and bad hair.

Released in Italy as La Casa 3 to cash in on the success of the first two Evil Dead movies (La Casa and La Casa 2 respectively), exploitation god Joe D'Amato (uncredited as producer) and director Umberto Lenzi's threadbare classic Ghost House is one of those rare movies that is as incredibly creepy as it is utterly fucking terrible at the same time.

Which is an amazing feat.

Coming across like a Spielberg-less Poltergeist, rewritten for a teevee budget by the producers of Scooby Doo, the movie has everything you'd expect from the lower end of late 80's Italian horror cinema; wobbly lightbulbs, ghostly girls, hideous wallpaper and seas of man-melting yogurt violently juxtaposed with a fantastically frenetic synth score, an overuse of stone wash denim and acting that veers wildly between awake (Kate Silver) and the front window of a taxidermist shop (Lara Wendel and the rest) via booze sodden madness (Donald O’Brien and his haunted leg).

A special mention must go to  Willy M. Moon whose performance as the practical joke playing backpacker Pepe is a joy to behold and worthy of his own movie.

But what makes this performance really stand out is the fact that his character has no reason to be there at all, he adds nothing to the plot apart from a fine taste in red shiny jackets and joke skeleton arms.

It's like Richard Blackwood turning up halfway thru' The Exorcist to perform a 10 minute stand up routine.

Actually come to think of it that would make it a much better movie. 

But obviously it wouldn't happen because he was only one at the time. 

Look just forget I mentioned it and move on.

"And I'm spent!"

Worth a look to see the house from Fulci's classic The House by the Cemetery lit badly if nothing else, Ghost House wears it's heart and it's influences proudly on it's sleeve, pity then that it's a huge pink floppy wizards sleeve belonging to that 60 something widow that lives on the estate you keep hearing about.

And like her it's well worth a quick visit.

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