Friday, October 19, 2012

Horror movie #18 - The House Where Evil Dwells

MOVIE: The House Where Evil Dwells (1982)

OVERALL ENJOYMENT:  Loved it, but I'm partial to japanese culture, which the movie is steeped in, like properly brewed green tea.

PLOT:  A family moves to japan, and rents a beautiful 200 year old japanese house.  Unfortunately, the house is the location of an ancient tragedy involving a samurai, one of his students, and the samurai's wife.  Yes, an ancient love triangle of DEATH!  Luckily, the family managed to get it cheap because the house is rumored to be haunted.  Unfortunately, the house really IS haunted.

GOOD POINTS:  For the 80's, this was a quality horror film.  Big-name actors for the time, hot starlets, on-location shooting from the looks of it, plenty of extras and outdoor locations aplenty.  Special effects were probably very good for the time.  Also, this is probably the most in-depth look into japanese culture i have ever seen in a horror movie.  Not only do they show a brief look at ancient japan, but modern-day Japan (as it was back in the early 80's, anyway) is frequently showcased and referred to.  If you have an interest in ancient japanese history and culture (as i do), this film is probably a bonanza of interesting information for you.  Also, there's a horror story in there!  Plus nudity!  And the music is perfect!  Very immersive.

BAD POINTS:  Bit dated by today's standards.  Special effects won't give anyone nightmares.  Not terribly frightening and you pretty much know where it's going from the beginning.  Only available on netflix.  They haven't shown this one on TV in decades.

SPOILERS:  Not sure what was up with the crab scene.  Also, why the HELL didn't the wife just get out if she was getting "spooked?"  hah!  I make joke!  You laugh.  Also, wtf is up with the evil spirits cooperating to haunt the family?  Don't those spirits basically hate each other?  Must be a japanese thing.  Look for things happening in the background, too.  There's one scene where the wife is relaxedly reading a book and a Noh (japanese theater) mask is actually rocking back and forth on the wall behind her before it flies off and crashes onto the tabletop.  Something similar happened to me in reality at one point so the fear of it is not lost on me.  I may sleep poorly tonight.

IMPRESSIONS:  Back in the 80's, America had a huge hardon for japanese culture.  There were ninja movies aplenty, samurai movies, geisha movies, martial arts movies, you name it, we made a movie about it or imported them from japan and china.  I remember seeing this movie when I was a kid and being rather frightened by it.  Sure, it wasn't even that frightening, since I had been quite the horror movie aficionado even back then, but it showed me that even the japanese culture (which i also had a hardon for) had it's own ghosts, demons and spirits to contend with.  I think this movie is one of the few American (or at least, english-language) movies I have ever seen that directly mentions a tengu (evil spirit/goblin/fallen angel) as represented by a Noh mask, in addition to the wonderful japanese music played almost constantly throughout the film.  Normally, japanese music is incredibly relaxing to me.  In this film, it manages to be incredibly sad, tragic and frighteningly tense all at the same time.  Impressive!  Certainly worth a watch if only for the picture perfect snapshot of japanese culture and mythology, but the horror story isn't too bad either.  I think this is my second or third time watching it, so it definitely passes the rewatchability test, even if it has been decades between viewings.

OTHER NEWS:  Getting hard to find movies!  I either have to start watching and reviewing some otherwise crappy movies or fall back on oldies but goodies.  Or... I could branch out.  Find some sci-fi / horror to review.  Maybe some foreign horror movies.  Might work.  Only about two weeks left, I can do it!  Although technically, tonight's movie is not new, I certainly have not reviewed it before, and haven't seen it in decades.  My streak of never-before-seen movies may not be unbroken, but at least I haven't seen most of them before, and none in a long time, and hopefully I haven't reviewed any twice yet!  Like The Mummy.  lol

See you tomorrow night for more horror!

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