Monday, April 4, 2022

WHAT Is the DEAL With Your Grandparents?


The late Len Lasser had an acting career that spanned 60 years, but it's hard for most to see his picture and not scream a few oft-repeated Seinfeld lines. Raise your hand if you knew that he also starred as a (possibly) homicidal grandpa in an '80s horror film.


Quick Plot: Siblings Lynn and David are left orphaned after their father's passing, having lost their mysterious mother long before. They're sent to live with their enthusiastic grandparents and before you can pull out your best Uncle Leo impersonation, bodies start piling up around them. 

David is suspicious. First, there's the mysterious woman who seems to keep showing up wherever David goes. Since she's played by scream queen Brinke Stevens, he is, of course, right. 

Lynn is a bit distracted. As the older, hotter sibling, she's subject to being sexually harassed (and then, let's face it, assaulted) by a local meathead...who she then agrees to date, because, you know, the '80s?

Grandmother's House is yet another horror film that I had never heard of until the glory of Tubi. It's an odd duck, which is obviously something I welcome in the genre, particularly when it includes my absolute favorite underused element: villainous senior citizens. Grandmother's House is more The Visit than Rabid Grannies, with the horror coming down to the inability of children (okay, teenagers) to have their voices heard by adult authorities. 

Directed by Escape From Witch Mountain's Peter Radar, Grandmother's House doesn't fit your image of a 1988 horror flick. It has an impish mystery vibe about itself that genuinely keeps you guessing as to exactly what's at play. That's not to say this is a light-hearted PG romp. Axe murders and incest have their weight, but if your finale features a showdown between an eighth grader and AARP member, you tend to stand out. 

High Points
Considering its time of production, Grandmother's House seems to be so refreshingly DIFFERENT from what it would have neighbored on video store shelves that watching today, I genuinely had no idea where it might go

Low Points
Boy is it uncomfortable to stomach watching high schooler Lynn be ogled and forcefully (and nonconsensually kissed) by a jerk in a public pool, but it's even worse to see that the consequence of such an action is that you're now dating (though at least there's some comfort in seeing said jerk get a shotgun blast to his stomach). When you add in a last minute revelation regarding another female character's abuse, Grandmother's House's ick factor can't be fully ignored

Lessons Learned
To know geese is to fear geese

You can always count on kids to find trouble on a farm

Keep your cracker jacks or baseball games: nothing tastes better in the swim meet spectator stands than jarred pickles

Grandmother's House isn't a revelation or lost '80s treasure, but it's a surprising little tale that genuinely feels unique, both for its time and in general for the genre. Break out your bowl of hard candy and give it a try.

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