Wednesday, 16 September 2015

House of the Damned (1996)

Back in the first early days of this blog's existence, I posted a review of Pathogen, a micro budget zombie film written and directed by then 12-year old Emily Hagins.

Ten years before Pathogen, then 16-year old Sean Weathers scraped together the resources to do a zombie film of his own.  He shot it in about a month, spending one week in Boston (where all the 'location shots' appear to have been filmed), and then the remainder of the time filming in his own home.

As you might imagine, Weathers' effort has some profound technical limitations.  The only camera was a cheap camcorder for instance - and it shows - while the acting is decidedly uneven.  On the other hand, he manages some surprisingly convincing fight sequences, and the "haunting" effects - while not especially imaginative or complex - are executed competently.

The plot is pretty simple: a young woman on the eve of her 21st birthday discovers that her mother is planning to murder her.  Why?  Because by virtue of an ancient spell this will grant mommy dearest 21 years of youthful beauty.  The mother has in fact been doing this for hundreds of years: killing her daughters just before they turn 21.  Obviously the daughter isn't real keen on the idea and would prefer to survive the night - but can she find a way to turn mom's spell against her?

Now if you're analytically-minded you might have immediately wondered how the mother ensures she always has a daughter on a regular 21 years schedule.  You may also wonder about the fact that she would be need to be heavily pregnant in the movie, which she clearly isn't, in order to meet the schedule for her next child.  These alas are not even the most obvious plot holes in the film: the script really needed a few more re-writes I think.

I can't recommend the film for its entertainment value, so it gets a "not recommended", but if you have an interest in "no budget" film-making, or in African American film-making (the cast has no white characters), then it may be something you should check out.

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