Monday, February 8, 2021

Mi Casa Es Su Casa Fantasma!

The Shortening should always include a few key elements of miniature horror, primarily, evil children and homicidal dolls. Imagine my joy upon discovering today's feature has both!

Quick Plot: Henrietta is an ill-behaved little girl. When her father Sam discovers she's killed the family cat -- on her own birthday, no less! -- he grounds her and her creepy toddler-sized clown doll to the basement. Back upstairs, her parents are brutally murdered by an unseen, axe-wielding force.

Twenty years later, in nearby Boston, college student/ham radio enthusiast Paul is playing with some toys when he hears a mysterious transmission crying for help. He traces the source back to the same house poor Henrietta's family once occupied and decides to make a road trip out of it with his girlfriend Martha. 

Partying on the same grounds is a quartet of fellow 20somethings led by Jim, who knows a fellow ham radio fan when he sees one and quickly bonds with Paul, who even more quickly realizes the voice he heard on the tape is Jim, who doesn't remember such an event. They decide to investigate, riling up some ghostly energy and the meat cleaver-wielding caretaker in the process. 

Written and directed by Umberto Lenzi (despite being credited to fake names), Ghosthouse is a fun slice of late '80s cheese. A haunted house, evil, staring child, AND killer clown doll? That's a LOT to like, and I haven't even mentioned the film's best/worst character, PamPam.

Look, IMDB lists his name as Pepe, but I CLEARLY heard PamPam and will die on this hill

What to say about PamPam, an obnoxious, petty thief hitchhiker who travels with a prank skeleton arm in the hopes of...landing at empty houses with open boxes of croutons? 

Don't think too hard about PamPam, or the suspiciously chatty funeral director who reveals the true cause of Henrietta's haunting: her own mortician father had a bad habit of stealing his late customers' goods, and the Poltergeist-y clown doll was meant to be buried with a child. Instead, Sam gifted it to his kid, sparking a chain of violence that includes death by mirror, death by unplugged fan blade, death by pool of pasty goo, and more!

High Points
I don't always love a mean-spirited ending, but Ghosthouse's final stinger is joy campily over the top that it left me one satisfied streamer

Low Points
I suppose Ghosthouse could have been a little more memorable if its characters were able to have more personality or even clear relationships to one another

Lessons Learned
Hitching is fun, but the hiking part sucks

Data processing is best described as "computers"

In Denver's battle for the hottest, it's a close race between Kelly LeBrock and Kim Basinger

If it's an '80s horror movie that includes a handful of attractive young people, one of them just has to be named Tina

Not surprisingly, Ghosthouse is streaming on Amazon Prime. It's certainly a fun, disposable time, filled with some bizarre murders and a plethora of creepy clown doll cutaways. What more do you need?


  1. How did I miss this one? I'm generally not a Umberto Lenzi fan ("Cannibal Ferox" was a lot more than I could take) but this one sounds much more to my taste.

    Since you invited participation in the Shortening, I have a blog entry that might qualify: A review of "Attack of the Beast Creatures."

  2. Maybe because he's not officially credited as the director? I'd never heard of it until it landed on Prime, and didn't realize it was Lenzi until I looked up the information on IMDB. It's a fun one!

    Yay for the Shortening! I'm going to add the links at the end of the month. Looking forward to checking yours out!

    1. FYI: "end of the month" now means end of March. Sorry for the delay!