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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

House of Ghosts (2012)




I’m a nostalgic kind of guy. If you poke around the website, you will see that I watch and review a lot of old movies. These are what I grew up watching and still love them. But nostalgia can be a double-edged sword. In the last ten to fifteen years there have been a lot of filmmakers that have tried to recapture the style and feel of the older flicks. Most of them fail miserably, but I keep slogging thru. House of Ghosts bills itself as a tribute to William Castle, one of my personal favorites. Those are mighty big shoes to fill.

We get an opening monologue with the director that explains to the audience about the fear shield. Basically, using something to hide your eyes if the movie gets too scary for you. It also warns that the process used to make the ghosts appear could also be fueled by you watching it. So ghosts could show up when you watch… This feels a bit forced and has more of an Ed Wood vibe than it does William Castle. Still it is a nice try.

After the narrator the credits roll, and I immediately noticed that they tried and succeeded to match the font and style from Castle’s House on Haunted Hill. Even the music was almost spot on from the earlier movie they are trying to emulate. Unless you are a big nerd like me you probably wouldn’t have noticed this at all, so I give them props for spending the time and effort doing it. Then we meet our main characters who are at a dinner party. The entertainment for the evening is a medium who is actually a science guy with a machine that will break the barriers between the land of the living and that of the dead. This means that the rest of the movie is one ghostly encounter after another. That is until we get to the ending, which is bit of a twist.

I’m glossing over much of the plot so that I don’t give anything away. If you have seen any of the movies of William Castle, then the fact that there is a twist and a couple of lapses in logic shouldn’t be surprising. But the fact that these are also present in House of Ghosts indicate that a lot of effort was made in writing the script. Those involved clearly love the movies of William Castle otherwise they wouldn’t have tried so hard. The dialogue is a bit stilted and the acting can be over the top at times. Again, this is what I would expect when sitting down to watch a Castle flick. Often when I’m reviewing a movie like this I point out that it is incredibly hard to make an entertaining bad movie without just making a bad one. They walk that tightrope and absolutely nail it!

Cheesy and fun
I was pleased that they shot it in black and white. There is also a bit of hiss and popping in the sound, but not so much that it feels forced. Too many times these “throwback” films try to overdo the attempts to look or sound old and end up distracting or annoying the audience. Here again they do just enough to put a smile on my face. As an added bonus there is a totally cheesy looking effect with a floating dog that is awesome!

I was ready to not like this movie because I’ve been burned so often in the past. I’m glad I gave House of Ghosts a chance because I enjoyed it a lot. The fact that the director, Christopher R. Mihm, managed to shoot this on a micro budget of around three thousand dollars boggles my mind. I’ve seen filmmakers with much more money make totally unwatchable garbage. I’m going to have to track down more of Mihm’s flicks. I recommend this one.


© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer



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