Arrow Video is easily one of the best movie distributors around, and if you ask certain movie buffs collectors, they’d argue that they’re the best, period. I can’t decide as Arrow Video has been on a mission for the last few years to deliver fans some of the most unique movie titles on blu-ray and DVD, and offer them in deluxe collector’s packages that would make most cineastes hyperventilate out of sheer excitement. Arrow Video has taken it upon themselves to offer fans the two tales of “House,” two films that were big movie rental fodder in their heydays and are now brought together for what is a heavily suggested anthology. Arrow Video combines two of the true “House” movies that are—ironically—about as different from each other as the last two “House” movies.
Scream Factory offers movie fans a double feature on Blu-Ray with the theme of Asian culture driving the plots for both films. For folks that love Asian films, these two films offer up a helping of Asian genre entertainment with slight twists to them. The first feature is 1982’s “The House Where Evil Dwells,” a supernatural thriller that is basically “Amityville Horror” with a Japanese twist. It’s also just as goofy as the former ghost film. The Fletchers have migrated from the US to Japan in hopes of taking a long needed vacation. Writer Ted is intent on finishing his novel and is anxious to relax. The trio along with Ted’s friend Alex ends up at a small house in the woods of Kyoto where they’re told by Alex’s friend that the house’s rent is cheap due to suspected ghosts.
As far as murder mystery movies about evil houses, “The House of Seven Corpses” is not a masterpiece. I’m by no means intent on watching it again for at least a few years, but it makes a good argument for nonsensical genre fodder that doesn’t even try. The main character’s cat gets in to a stare down with a painting on a wall featuring the head of a severed cat. There’s the “Tibetan Book of the Dead” that’s bandied about like it’s an encyclopedia, and did I mention a zombie pops up in the end? Why? Who the hell knows? The zombie just gets out of its grave, kills the entire cast, carries a naked girl to his grave, and the movie ends.
The common Christian stereotype is that Halloween is almost always celebrated by Pagans and Satanists, as well as people with a demented sense of reality. What the director of “The American Scream” Michael Stephenson accomplishes, is destroying such an antiquated cliche and explores a world of folks who adore Halloween and are just working class individuals looking for an escape from their lives. “The American Scream” has an undercurrent of sadness to it where the happiness and smiles are really seeking to cover the heart ache and desperation behind the subjects who treat Halloween like an event every single year. I’m proud to be one of those people who anticipate the month of October right around the beginning of August, and these folks featured aren’t so different.
Yet another apparent true story about another haunting in America, “The Haunted” is one of the most effective and creepy ghost films ever made. Though it’s primarily a TV movie, it’s been sadly shunned in to obscurity in favor of the more appealing “Amityville.” But in the end, “The Haunted” ends up feeling like much more of a true and realistic tale of an actual demonic haunting, and it’s one filled with unnerving and absolutely terrifying instances of hauntings that are filmed with such sharp editing and dark tones that it still holds up as a cinematic experience you’ll be thinking about for hours after you’ve finished it.
I’m not going to pretend “Dark House” is an original horror outing. As a film it’s basically a pastiche of “The Haunting,” “House on Haunted Hill,” and “Thirteen Ghosts” with a skosh of “Haute Tension” for good measure. But in spite of the inherent derivations, I couldn’t help but have a damn good time sitting through “Dark House.” It’s deep down a very light on logic party horror film that you can sit through with friends and never be bored with. Even when it’s attempting to exposit the characters back stories, it really is at warp speed so that it can get to the bloodshed and gore. Thankfully I didn’t have much of a problem with that.