Kryptic Army Mission: June 2021 – House of Horror

The haunted house goes back to the very beginning of the horror genre, from literature to the earliest of cinema. Whether the evil within the place is supernatural in nature or just plain old human, it still causes fear into those entering the dwelling. Unless, they go in unknowing what lies inside for them. But we all know that they will soon discover for themselves. The word “house” is often used in horror movie titles to let the audience know that in this one particular location, something bad has happened, or continues to happen to whoever decides to go in.

Our mission for this month should be a fairly easy one. You just need to find 2 horror films that you have not seen before, that simply have HOUSE in the title. Doesn’t have to be a haunted house movie or ghost story genre, but just have that word somewhere in the title. The great thing about this month’s mission is it will give you the chance not only seek out two new films for you, but possibly help you check off some of those classics that you haven’t gotten around to seeing. Titles like Roger Corman’s House of Usher (1960) or John Hough’s The Legend of Hell House (1973), Narciso Ibáñez Serrador’s The House that Screamed (1969), or even William Castle’s The House on Haunted Hill (1959). Or there are plenty of other ones out there, so many titles to choose from that this should be an easy one to tackle. Just make sure you don’t stay too long in one of these houses that you can’t make it back out to turn in your mission!

Simple enough, right? You will have until 11:59pm on June 30th to watch and report back to complete this month’s mission? That is, if you dare to enter these evil domains. If you do …. Good Luck!

23 thoughts on “Kryptic Army Mission: June 2021 – House of Horror

  1. Found me two houses, Jon. Payed them a visit. Got out alive and well…

    HOUSE (2008)

    A couple with some marital problems, has to make a detour by car due to a road accident and the heavy rainfall. They decide to seek shelter and help in a big old house in the woods. Inside, they meet another couple who had encountered the same problem on the road. The house actually turns out to be an inn with rooms for rent, and the creepy caretaker family who owns it are eager to offer them dinner and beds for the night.

    If that sounds like something you’ve seen before, then likely it’s because you have. Of course there are secrets to be revealed and skeletons in the closets to be discovered. Of course there’s an individual, traumatic reason for both couples to end up in this house. And of course the outsider sheriff (Michael Madsen), who they’ve met on the road prior to their sleepover, will turn out to be involved. Even the surprise narrative twist near the end is something you’ve seen in other films too. Granted, they added a little nuance to it, but still.

    What it does offer, are a variety of supernatural occurrences, in scenes taking place in different parts of the house, whenever the characters are split up, with a bit of nightmarish logic rigging everything together, until it’s time to reveal “what the hell has been going on” and why, to then play out that anticipated final twist. Interestingly, this was filmed in Poland, the production values are okay, the sets are fine, the special effects decent enough. But there’s little story to it and the characters don’t matter much either. Plenty of scares, acceptably executed, but tension or atmosphere are lacking.

    HOUSE OF THE LONG SHADOWS (1983)

    Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and John Carradine. All of them in one movie. All of them having many scenes together. In all honesty, they are pretty much the sole raison to watch it. They all make an individual, splendid entrance, that has them appear well-timed, showing up inside the gloomy countryside “Midnight Manor,” each by stepping into to the light of a well-framed close-up shot of their own, in one room or another. Then there’s enough exquisite dialogue for them to munch on. Too much talking, actually, but for once, given the talkers, I’ll just not consider that a complaint.

    A writer gets challenged by his publisher to spend 24 hours in a vacant manor, to write a novel by the next day. If he succeeds and wins this bet, he gets a lot of money. As to be expected, once arrived, he’s getting even less writing done than Jack Torrance in the Overlook Hotel. Aside from our aforementioned Notable Foursome, even more people show up at the manor. They’ll all play their part in a typical “old dark house” fright scenario that doesn’t attempt much to distinguish itself from its prior peer outings. In fact, Peter Walker’s swansong as a director comes off dull enough to make me wonder what Norman J. Warren would have done with it, if he’d been offered the chance.

    The spooky mystery plot ultimately turns out a bit too much tongue-in-cheek for its own good – seriously, what was up with those surprise endings? There are some characters dying unexpected, neat deaths, but the overall film just fails to impress. A lot about it just seems to miss the mark and it’s even hard to pinpoint why exactly. It lacks eventfulness, as if the cast alone would already warrant the film to be exceptional and special enough. Perhaps, but also not good enough. Most interesting trivia bit: one of the earlier productions from “the Go-Go Boys” Yoram Globus and Menahem Golan, still before The Cannon Group’s rise to ’80s fame.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nothing worse than taking something unoriginal and then doing nothing with it to change it.

      As far as House of Long Shadows, I would agree with everything you said, except … I still love it. I’m sure it is just the cast alone but it looks like they are having so much fun here, so I’m right along with them.

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    • House of the Long Shadows is one of the few Pete Walker films I like–it’s kind of an outlier for him! Sheila Keith is magnificent as well as our fave horror icons.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m a big fan of Walker’s films, and while this one doesn’t fit too much into his cannon, I still love this one which is mainly due to the main cast.

        Like

  2. While on a short road trip with the family last week, I was able to do some house hunting on the internet. Here’s what I found:
    THE HOUSE (2005 / HK)
    So a woman and her daughter move into a run down flat in a run down building (I know…but it’s called ‘The House’ so I’m going with that.) Anyway, the place is haunted – bad things happen – The End. Yes, that’s about the depth and excitement of this one.
    THE HOUSE (2016 / NORWAY)
    A couple of German soldiers and a Norwegian POW are stranded in a snowy forest, far from help. After awhile they stumble on a house in the wilderness. Relieved, they go into the shelter of the house. Oops! Strange things start happening. It seems the house is none too happy to have visitors, but also does not want to let them leave. Too much of what transpires is strangeness for the sake of strangeness. There’s time displacement , and flashbacks to, what appears to be an exorcism gone terribly wrong. This one was very ambitious, but ended up being headache inducing. Your mileage may vary (but I kind of doubt it).
    HOUSE OF DEMONS (2018 / USA)
    Estranged friends meet up after several years to celebrate one of them getting married. They are being put up at a country house which we find out via flashbacks was the site of a weird cult back in 1969. Soon the past and present are colliding like a bad acid trip. The “friends” are all extremely unlikeable jerks, and I found it hard to believe that these people would have ever been friends. The plot is as flimsy as they get, and the whole facing your demons shtick has been done better somewhere else (because it ain’t done well here!).
    Zero for 3 so far…
    HOUSE OF MYSTERY (1934 / USA)
    Finally, we have to go back 87 years for a movie that, at least, is entertaining! Whether or not it is ‘horror’ is another story. It is an old dark house potboiler, with what was a staple horror fixture in the 30’s, an ape. This one is a stuffed ape. And yet it is killing people. This movie has an unusual back story that keeps things interesting. But, at the end of 62 minutes, it is still pretty much a b-movie programmer. Still, it is entertaining enough for the brief run time. Better by far than the others I suffered through this month.
    Jon – even when you make the mission easy – it can be damn difficult!
    While on a short road trip with the family last week, I was able to do some house hunting on the internet. Here’s what I found:
    THE HOUSE (2005 / HK)
    So a woman and her daughter move into a run down flat in a run down building (I know…but it’s called ‘The House’ so I’m going with that.) Anyway, the place is haunted – bad things happen – The End. Yes, that’s about the depth and excitement of this one.
    THE HOUSE (2016 / NORWAY)
    A couple of German soldiers and a Norwegian POW are stranded in a snowy forest, far from help. After awhile they stumble on a house in the wilderness. Relieved, they go into the shelter of the house. Oops! Strange things start happening. It seems the house is none too happy to have visitors, but also does not want to let them leave. Too much of what transpires is strangeness for the sake of strangeness. There’s time displacement , and flashbacks to, what appears to be an exorcism gone terribly wrong. This one was very ambitious, but ended up being headache inducing. Your mileage may vary (but I kind of doubt it).
    HOUSE OF DEMONS (2018 / USA)
    Estranged friends meet up after several years to celebrate one of them getting married. They are being put up at a country house which we find out via flashbacks was the site of a weird cult back in 1969. Soon the past and present are colliding like a bad acid trip. The “friends” are all extremely unlikeable jerks, and I found it hard to believe that these people would have ever been friends. The plot is as flimsy as they get, and the whole facing your demons shtick has been done better somewhere else (because it ain’t done well here!).
    Zero for 3 so far…
    HOUSE OF MYSTERY (1934 / USA)
    Finally, we have to go back 87 years for a movie that, at least, is entertaining! Whether or not it is ‘horror’ is another story. It is an old dark house potboiler, with what was a staple horror fixture in the 30’s, an ape. This one is a stuffed ape. And yet it is killing people. This movie has an unusual back story that keeps things interesting. But, at the end of 62 minutes, it is still pretty much a b-movie programmer. Still, it is entertaining enough for the brief run time. Better by far than the others I suffered through this month.
    Jon – even when you make the mission easy – it can be damn difficult!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey Bob …. not sure how your report got doubled, but for a minute that I thought you went nuts on this months mission with all these movies! But still, nice job!

    Haven’t seen the first two you mentioned but have seen House of Mystery. For me, there is nothing more enjoyable than going back to those movies from the ’30s and ’40s. So much fun, no matter if they are cheesy.

    Like

  4. 1. Housebound (2014/New Zealand)

    Synopsis: A troubled youth gets put under house arrest at her mother’s home. It turns out the house may be haunted and a many layered mystery is uncovered.

    Review: Housebound was a fun movie with likeable, quirky characters. Although a sense of playfulness ran through it, it did not take away from the movie’s overall air of mystery or lessen the movie’s impact. What made the movie work best is that it kept me guessing throughout; always turning expectations on its ear. When you have watched as many horror movies as most of us have, you tend to see plot twists, red herrings and mystery’s solutions far before the average person. But for me at least, the movie kept ahead of me. The movie isn’t scary (except maybe one jump scare) but it is suspenseful, kept me interested and was a fun watch. For that alone I can recommend it.

    2. House of Dracula (1945)

    Synopsis: A kind hearted doctor takes on the case of the wolfman and Dracula in hopes to cure them. Unfortunately, he is betrayed by Dracula, who infects the doctor with his own tainted blood. Overcome during periods by an evil persona (ala Jekyll/Hyde) the doctor becomes a monster himself.

    Review: This closes up the Universal monsters collection for me, so thanks for the opportunity to push myself to finally watch this. While nowhere in the class of many of the other universal horrors such as Frankenstein or even lesser movies such as House of Frankenstein, this movie still has its moments. The 3 main monster draws; Dracula, the wolfman, and especially Frankenstein’s monster; are really only small bit parts. They feel as if they were written into the movie just to draw in fans and only Dracula drives the plot forward. The real story is that of the Dr. trying to cure monsters and ending up becoming one himself. Though not on par with many other great Universal classics, this story did have some very good moments of pathos and strong characterizations, making it worth the watch for those who want to see the entire Universal Cannon of classic monsters. And it is far superior to a lot of the 90s direct-to-video dreck that was put out years later. Plus we get to see the wolfman’s satanic curse cured by surgery (?!). At least until Abbott & Costello meet up with him.

    3. The Black House (1999/Japan)

    Synopsis: An insurance sales manager becomes involved in a case concerning a psychopathic individual who will do anything to collect on their multiple insurance policies.

    Review: This movie is a true dichotomy for me. Perhaps it’s just my western sensibilities contrasted with Asian film style, but this movie had moments of sheer suspense and horror coupled with nonsensical odd pacing and direction. The movie’s story was deadly serious but the feel and mood were compromised by the humorous sounding music, odd scenes that felt out of place or over the top acting that almost seemed farcical at times. During the beginning half of the movie; other than one scene, I started to think I had rented a bad Japanese comedy by accident. In addition to these issues, the pacing in the beginning seemed to drag. Despite all of this, at slightly past the half way mark, the movie turns gut-wrenchingly serious. At this point the movie becomes intense, with well-directed action sequences; taut suspense and terrifying moments driven by the actor playing the emotionless and psychopathic killer. There is even a disturbing twist that seems like it could have come straight from the Twilight Zone or Tales from the Crypt. There are still some odd directorial (& story) choices but they don’t take away from the overall mood of fear that settles in. If you can get past the first half, I recommend this movie based on the second half alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Chris –

      I really enjoyed Housebound when I first saw it. Really need to revisit that because I do remember it being a lot of fun and pretty entertaining.

      I’m glad I could “push” you into watching this! I still enjoy House of Frankenstein more than this one, but it still is a lot of fun. And like you mentioned, the only one where Mr. Talbot is cured.

      Glad you had two that were good before you got to Black House! Never heard of it, but doesn’t sound like I need to seek it out any time soon.

      Like

  5. I was able to knock off two titles from my library that had remained unwatched until now. Not sure if this is a positive thing or not!

    Horror House on Highway Five (1985) – On a good note, I have a new title to add to our next Turkey Day marathon. Wow, was this a complete inept film. But as bad as it was, some of the dialogue and acting was pretty damn funny, in a very bad sort of a way. Wouldn’t recommend this to watch alone, but with some friends, it could be pretty entertaining.

    House on Skull Mountain (1974) – I have actually been wanting to watch this for quite some time, but had heard a couple of reviews on how bad it was, so I kept skipping over it. Well, it’s not great, but it isn’t terrible by any means. Pretty decent cast and the ending could have been shorted by about 5 minutes or so. But for the era it was made, it fits the bill.

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      • Horror House was always popping up on cheap VHS tapes years ago and I’ve always remembered the cover. Finally picked up a cheap DVD (see a pattern here) but never got around to it. And just like the VHS and DVD, the movie is very cheap as well.

        Skull Mountain was released on DVD from MGM on their Midnite Movie series, picked it up but never got to it. Always read/heard it wasn’t any good, but I think it’s worth the watch.

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  6. #1–House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
    Tourists. Backwater. Family of sadistic serial killers. You put the same parts into a film, you pretty much get the same thing out, no matter which movie it is.

    I have held off on watching this for the better part of twenty years because I am not really a Rob Zombie fan. Gotta admire him for creating roles for seasoned horror actors, particularly women. I did not know Chris Hardwick was an actor, I only know him from The Nerdist and post-WD talk shows, so this movie was eductional as well. Not sure I would recommend, but it isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. My ears still heart from Sheri’s screechy giggling, though.

    #2–Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire
    Some rich guy buys the creepy hotel known from previous films to create an interactive horror experience.

    This movie is very suspenseful. I will never know what the horror experience was meant to be or how things went sideways because this movie sucked so bad I will never watch the end of it. I seriously paused it to get a drink of water and was shocked that I was only twenty minutes in, it felt like hours. I am okay living with this tension and lack of resolution, it is better than wasting any more of my life watching the film. I have seen I & II and that really seems to be all I can afford to invest in this franchise.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The funny thing, Cate, is House is my favorite of Zombie’s films, meaning that each one of his I tend to like less and less. I liked the craziness of House and the strange characters, but by the time we get to the 3rd and 4th film, how many of these trailer trash characters before we get tired of them.

      I have never bothered with any of those Hell House movies and not sure I think I need to!

      Like

  7. Movie #1 The Old Dark House (1932)
    This is your typical movie about strangers seeking shelter in a creepy old house for shelter during a storm. I love movies like this no matter how similar they all are. I will have to give this one a second viewing, though. I thought the ending fell a little flat. I loved the characters and the build-up, but I didn’t think anything really happened. I won’t spoil it, but there is a moment at the end when I went “Woah! That stunt had to have hurt!” Overall, well done. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t love it. I’ll watch it again.

    Movie #2 House of the Long Shadows (1983)
    This movie is fantastic. I loved it so much, and I am surprised I’ve never seen it before. I’ve seen posters and stills about it, but never watched it. I honestly didn’t mind the twists, and I didn’t really think it was as “silly” as others describe it. That’s just my opinion, though. I thought they were all going to be ghosts or something cliche’ like that. I’m glad they put a little more into the twist than that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Talk about knocking out two classics that have a very similar theme to them! I love Old Dark House simply because of the craziness of the different people living at the house. And when Saul comes out, it gets pretty twisted. But I’m glad you checked it off your list.

      I think House of the Long Shadows was actually my first Pete Walker film back in the day. As I mentioned in one of my comments above, it doesn’t really have the feel of his earlier films, like Frightmare, The Confession, or The Comeback, but it is just so much fun watching those 4 great actors play against each other.

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  8. Better late than never. It was a Peter Walker double feature.
    #1) The House of Long Shadows
    Not sure it really matters what you do, with a cast like this you can do no wrong. Enjoyable but, the downsides are I wish these 4 were in a movie together long before 1983. I think a movie with an old school feeling hurt a little being done in more modern times. It was enjoyable seeing everyone together though.

    #2) The House of Whipcord
    There is something about British movies of the 70s that I have a soft spot for. They really take me back to watching a lot of these in my childhood. Classic stories, without much FX or blood that were shown in the earlier afternoon on TV. Despite the accents as a give away, the 70s British horror movies to me had such a distinct way of movie making it is all a genre onto itself that I just can’t help but love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is a nice, but very different Walker double feature!

      As I’ve mentioned before, I do love Shadows, as cheesy as it might be here and there. And yes, it is a damn shame they were in more movies together.

      House of Whipcord is probably my least favorite of Walker’s more popular titles (Die Screaming Marianne is really more of a thriller and not too entertaining), but I’ve never been a fan of WIP movies. But I believe this was the first appearance of Shelia Keith in a Walker film and she was so damn good. Which is probably why he kept using here over and over afterwards.

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  9. I seem to find myself bringing up the rear on a regular basis this year. So, in the spirit of combat, I’m positing myself as the guy stationed outside the chopper, making sure everyone else gets on board before getting to safety, shouting into the hail of oncoming fire, “No one gets left behind!!!”

    Yeahhhhhhh, that’s it. I’M A HERO FOR PROCRASTINATING. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    Anyway, where were we? Oh, yes, the movies.

    #1
    HOUSE II: THE SECOND STORY (1987)
    d. Wiley, Ethan (USA)

    Okay, I know there are a lot of people out there who have a lot of affection for the original House (1985), and while I enjoy it for what it is, it was never one that I was too keen to watch on heavy rotation. As a result, I had no problem letting the sequel pass me by until this point, especially since I had never heard anyone insisting that I needed to catch up with it. There’s a reason for that. It’s barely a horror film at all, but rather a wannabe comedy about a crystal skull that possesses magical powers and has been squirreled away for safekeeping in the coffin of our nominal hero’s great-great-great grandfather who is dubbed… Gramps (Royal Dano). As they say, you can’t keep a good man down, and soon our mummified cowpoke is holed up in the basement and causing a ruckus from time to time while certain rooms in the house serve as portals to other dimensions populated by animatronic creatures with a terminal case of the cutes.

    It’s supposed to be amusing, I think, but it’s just annoying and the same goes for pretty much every performance right down the line, which is unfortunate considering all of them have done much better work elsewhere. Busy character man Ayre Gross has a rare leading role as Jesse, and it becomes abundantly clear why he didn’t have too many others. The guy is trying SO HARD to carry a film that is way out of his control. Similarly, his obnoxious buddy Charlie is WAY overplayed by Jonathan Stark, better known as Jerry Dandridge’s human-ish familiar in Fright Night. Bill Maher shows up with his trademark smarm as a music executive, and Lar Park-Lincoln aka The Carrie Clone Who Drops a House on Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th VII: The New Blood) is Jesse’s easily miffed girlfriend. Even John Ratzenberger can’t save the day (filling the “requisite Cheers cast member” slot established by George Wendt in the first film), putting in a glorified cameo as a rogue electrician.

    Chris Walas was in charge of the makeup effects, and it’s a little embarrassing to consider that the guy had just won an Oscar the year before for Cronenberg’s The Fly, considering how thick and immobile the latex is on all concerned.

    #2
    THE RED HOUSE (1947)
    d. Daves, Delmer (USA)

    The guy who directed the classic Westerns 3:10 to Yuma, Jubal, and Broken Arrow got his start – like so many other directors in the 1940s – dabbling in the crisp shadows of film noir, and while this Edward G. Robinson vehicle is not preoccupied with criminal underworlds and double-crosses, it’s steeped in atmosphere so thick you could swim in it.

    Robinson plays Pete Morgan, a struggling one-legged farmer who dotes on his adopted daughter Meg (Allene Roberts) to the point of smothering her, and while he grants her wish to have a schoolmate Nath (Lon McAllister) come over and help out with chores, it’s clear that he’s aware of her more than friendly feelings toward the lad. Luckily, he’s dating the local hottie Tibby (future torch singer and Emergency! TV star Julie London), so there’s less to fear, but when Nath insists on taking a shortcut through Pete’s backwoods property, we realize that the patriarch has some serious hangups about the woods and the secrets hidden therein. (No surprise, they include a certain red house.)

    While it’s arguable that the film is not a “legitimate” horror effort, there is no denying that the forest immediately announces itself as a strange and terrifying presence (highlighted by Miklos Rozsa’s magnificent score), always haunting Pete’s mind and creating a mystery for Nath and Meg to uncover, perhaps to their own detriment. There is an early scene that immediately had me thinking about a similar “running from nothing… or is it something?” sequence in 1957’s Curse of the Demon, and one can’t help but wonder if Jacques Tourneur was inspired by this earlier offering. Rory Calhoun, best known to horror fans as Farmer Vincent from Motel Hell, makes a smashing early appearance as the tall, dark, and sinister gatekeeper of the off-limits property. Well worth checking out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Okay, fun fact: I just found out that the cinematographer, Bert Glennon, was the DP for HOUSE OF WAX (1953), STAGECOACH (and a bunch of other stuff for John Ford), and the 1923 version of THE TEN COMMANDMENTS for Cecil B. DeMille. I’m not surprised at the pedigree, considering his outstanding work here, but still, DANG.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I got to see House II in the theater because I am one of those that loves the first film, which is why I rushed to see this one. Ugh. As you said, just not good in any way.

      I will have to look out for Red House. Sounds pretty damn cool.

      Like

    • Always fun to see you catching up with sequels, AC. I visited HOUSE II many moons ago already, and although my judgement might have been a little bit milder, it was still a disappointment, and I largely concur with your opinions. The film’s a mess, almost a joke, partly intended (since it plays out more of its comedy cards than the horror ones), and partly a misfire, as hardly anything about it works (or at least not as good as the first one pulled it off). Gladly so, they subtitled it ‘The Second Story’, as it has nothing to do anymore with the first film’s narrative. The feel is still a bit there, so is the look. But not the proper approach of handling the formula, in a dosed way, that made the first one work.

      Have you seen the unrelated THE HORROR SHOW, that should not have been the 3rd HOUSE installment, but ended up being so nonetheless? It’s got Lance Henriksen and Brion James going for it, and feels much more along the lines of watching an ANOES movie. It’s not even that bad, really.

      HOUSE IV actually brings back William Katt and does an admirable attempt to revive the feel of the 1st film (albeit less successful, so if you’ve never felt that much affection for it, I reckon the 4th one won’t do much for you either).

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      • Hey there! I totally missed your response here, Gert! In the same way that a lot of people dig the first one, I can totally see people enjoying this sequel. To be honest, I think I could even enjoy it more on a second viewing, knowing more of what I was in for.

        I have seen the 3rd House movie, aka The Horror Show, which was the title I saw it under a few years back when they released it on Blu-ray. I gave it a rather robust review on H101 back in 2013, which you can read here:

        https://horror101withdrac.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-horror-show-1989-dvdblu-ray-review.html

        With you having reminded me of the fourth House movie and being a shameless completist, I’m sure I’ll get around to it at some point!

        Like

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