House of the Dead
or, ZONE OF THE DEAD. 1978

Director: Sharron Miller

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Turd Alert

The numerously titled pisspoor anthology film House of the Dead was first released with the inapropos title Alien Zone (1978). It begins with a guy dropped off in the wrong part of town by a cabby. He's invited in out of the storm by an embalmer. While in the mortuary, he is told four lame stories about the lives of the recently & deservedly dead.

House of the DeadIf the acting seemed poor in this set-up, whew-wee, it's going to seem comparativedly Shakespearean compared to what the viewers suffers through when the tales inside this turd start squirming.

In tale number one, a woman home alone begins to hear squeeks & noises from her cheap little radio then becomes paranoid about every sound, until children in clown masks turn up from nowhere to kill her. Explanations not required.

After that terrible bit it seemed likely the tales couldn't get any stupider. But never underestimate the sinking abilities of the untalented & the incompetent. In tale number two, a Bill Bixbyish nurd has a hidden video camera to document his serial killings. Low & behold the tapes make good police evidence so he gets executed. My synopsis leaves nothing out.

That sub-basement of excreble storytelling honestly couldn't be dug any deeper, so the third story rises slightly above the level of the previous two turds. A detective investigates a suicide by hanging, or perhaps it was a murder, though that plot thread gets dropped when the detective gets a letter delivered to him while he's having a fancy dinner in a restaurant. The story turns into a game of detective vs detective, a very retarded excuse for a murder mystery, but compared to the simpleton nature of the rest the film this one almost looks complex.

Snapping back to simpleminded, for the final tale, a dissatisfied office worker who was unkind to a wino falls down an elevator shaft. Not quite squashed by the descending elevator, he crawls uninjured into a scary box that turns him into a wino, I kid you not.

Finally it's time to end the wraparound story with a final big whiff. The guy invited into the mortuary gets punished for being an adulturer by being shot by his mistress's husband, the end. But I'd've thought listening to those four stories would've been punishment enough.

House of the Dead is bound to bore & annoy even the most die-hard hard-core fan of turkey-award horrors. Director Sharron Miller does almost exclusively television direction, not movies, & chances are this film was patched together from a rightly rejected set of episodes filmed as pilots for some sorry imitation of The Twilight Zone or Night Gallery, but no network could be convinced to air such turds.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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