Director Richard Casey presents his sequel of sorts to Horror House on Highway 5 (1985), and this case again serves as the screenwriter, too; though, the last time he visited the genre of horror it dates back to Hellbent (1988). This sadly does not translate to a formidable great release, yet centers in the realm of the supernatural slasher earning distribution from Brain Damage Films.
The plot, aside from being a tad extreme on the absurd side, centers itself on a house hidden in plain sight that alludes to a mad doctor from the past isolated in a location and in his mind, as he awaits the seconding coming of the lord of lords, the king of shaking hips, Elvis Presley. Now, that has been established, a bit more, on the key individuals involved in the wild tale, all for the sake of a college research project, for four students, Clementine, Elmira, Joe Nick, Mullet (Joanna Bartling, Misty Madden, Sean McCracken, Brian Papson), respectively. Although the house appears to have vanished from the face of the earth, the rumors and stories persist, presenting a challenge for the group, especially when confronting a local gas station attendant named Lucky (Michael Castagnola) who does a raw interpretation of Crazy Ralph; however, when a freak accident, such as a soda machine attacks for lack of a better word, Mullet shows Lucky who points them toward Dr. Kessel’s home – the Horror House. The attack of the soda machine reminds him in the briefest sense, to a rape, the machine not providing a soda, makes Mullet stick his hand into and up the opening to retrieve what he justly paid for, and results in biting his hand. Sadly, though, much of the impact of the moment is lost to silly special effects, karo syrup, claiming a ghastly gash. In addition, the insaneness of the script takes a bizarre twist at the doctor’s home, an office in basement, actually is a bomb shelter filled with twisting walls, which seems to result in a maze of rooms. Mullet’s hand injury of course requires a bloody brain surgery, with spurting blood moments, and aided by a truly well played character of J Dog (Frank Gangarossa) a psychopathic henchman, which surpasses the loyalty of Igor from the Frankenstein lore. This doesn’t mean the film is akin to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, far from it, rather the operation and a mad doctor, always has the assistant that does their bidding without question, a dominant and submissive relationship with no reference to a hidden sexual meaning.
One starts to understand that the office represents a purgatory of sorts, under the earth, a maze, with supernatural powers abounding and preventing their escape, as a maniac, chases them with an axe, adding to the terrorizing pursuit. The film, presents humor at an alarmingly rate, with some likely ad-lib, which tries to cover the absurdity of the movie, plot holes, and inane actions of the characters, showing strength to progress the film, fulfilling a 86-minute runtime.
However, humor, could not save the movie, altogether, sadly not even the standardized slasher formula, established in Halloween (1978) and later carried over successfully by Friday the 13th (1980), relying on a group of teens venturing to an unknown location for conquests in multiple areas, lining up for a wonderful massacre of blood and guts explosion on the screen. Nevertheless, none of them exists in the movie, the extreme low budget shows through the film in glaring aspects, performed in a narrative rather than a found footage, manner. The cheapness appears often, and shown through the highly imagination of Casey, and even this doesn’t completely sink the movie, rather the acting attributes more so, and hence the suggestion of overplay and yet heavily akin sub-genre to lower end of filmmaker’s budget of found-footage. Casey shows his talents, ambitious, yes, but the financial resources limit the achieving of those wondrous developments of his craft.
When a movie involves both the blaming of the devil, supernatural slasher, and awaiting the second coming of Elvis, harkening back to b-movies, and even hinting to the madness of doctors and their lunatic nurses, the director and screenwriter, herein one in the same must narrow the field down. The incorporation of more talented personnel to pull a bizarre rampaging fringe fantasy together for the audience to enjoy, overwhelmingly would present a final product for horror fans.