House Of The Damned
Music Video Distributors (MVD)
I'm not quite sure how the makers came claim that this film is the original House Of The Damned as that honor belongs to the 1963 film directed by Maury Dexter and starring Ron Foster and Merry Anders. Instead this is the 1996 directorial debut of Sean Weathers and was the first Full Circle Filmworks film. Sean Weathers also directed such charming films as Lust For Vengeance (which I hope to review for next week), They All Must Die! and Hookers In Revolt. Shot in black and white (on what was obviously a shoe-string budget) the film does have it's charms. The classic horror score for one thing recalls the work of Goblin especially their work on the original Dawn Of The Dead. It has a creepy vibe and helps build suspense. Also one can't help but appreciate the effort the actors put into this film. It was obvious that they were having fun and yet for the most part they come off as believable characters. I especially enjoyed Valerie Alexander's performance as the grieving daughter who is just trying to piece everything together and come to terms with her father's death. She has a charm all her own and one can't help but feel empathy for her situation. Now with that said the film does have it's drawbacks. As it was originally intended to be only 20 minutes in length this comedy horror film does tend to drag on a bit. With 52 added minutes some scenes feel really tacked on and a bit forced. One can't help but take notice of the huge amount of padding in this film. Also, the plot (which involves a evil voodoo princess) is full of huge plot holes the likes of which I haven't seen in a long time. Cheesy horror films are one thing even if the plot makes little or no sense at all. This one though was like Swiss cheese in it's approach. I'm never quite sure why some script writers can't seem to make their films flow in a logical order. Is consistency really that hard to achieve? And since the film can't decide if it wants to be serious or campy things quickly fall apart. Still, for a film that features a evil voodoo princess, zombies and really awful rappers it could have been far worse. The version I received in the mail was the re-released 15th Anniversary Edition. The bonus material features trailers for Hookers In Revolt and other goodies. For those who like really campy, low-budget horror flicks this one might be a worthwhile addition if the price is right. One last thing that is worth mentioning is the fact that Sean dedicated House Of The Damned to his best friend and script supervisor Jahvaughn Lambert. Sadly, Lambert committed suicide before the film was finished editing and it obviously impacted Sean deeply. It is awful to think that something as positive as the completion of a first film had to be tainted by the death of a close friend.