Aside from The Return of… or The Revenge of…, there may be no more beloved horror titles than those involving The House…. There is something very mysterious and foreboding about a mysterious house containing all kinds of unknown horrors.
Shout Factory has released a new entry on the list with House in the Alley arising today, May 27th. The obscure Vietnamese horror pic is sure to pique the interest of fans and follow in the footsteps of some of the freaky House-themed films of the past…which leads us to our newest Top List: Horror’s 7 Most Haunting Houses.
Make no mistake; we aren’t necessarily talking about ‘haunted houses’ here, but ‘haunting houses,’ meaning movies with House in the title that did a wonderful job of scaring the hell out of us. We’ll begin with some honorable mentions to get the ball rolling.
The video game-inspired House of the Dead comes immediately to mind when considering these movies, as does the classic The Legend of Hell House. And speaking of classics, the anthology film Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors certainly falls in that category. Also getting an honorable mention are the infamous single-shot experiment The Silent House, the underrated Tobe Hooper gem Funhouse and a fantastic gateway movie to usher the little ones into the horror genre, Monster House.
Now on to…
House of Wax (1953)
Not only was Vincent Price’s House of Wax an incredible movie, it was also quite the groundbreaking venture. Released by Warner Bros., House of Wax was the first full-color movie by a major American studio to be presented in 3D. To make it even more of a success, it was released just days after rival Columbia Studios released the first black-and-white 3D film. Now that’s a kick in the ass. House of Wax was a huge success and one of the biggest box office movies in 1953. The film was re-released in 1971 with a full advertising campaign and again in the 80’s due to the popularity of 3D. In fact, in 2013, on the 60th anniversary of House of Wax, the film was released on 3D Blu-ray. Now that’s standing the test of time.
House on Haunted Hill (1959)
The master Vincent Price shows up on the list again for House on Haunted Hill, a mysterious thriller from the master of horror promotion, William Castle. This was a fantastic joining of two icons of the genre as Price played Frederick Loren with his usual gusto and Castle, as usual, creatively marketed the movie to be shown with Emergo. Emergo was basically a complex pulley system that flew a skeleton over the audience at just the right moments of the movie. The Price-Castle project was a great success and actually was responsible for something else: Alfred Hitchcock himself was so impressed by House on Haunted Hill that he decided to make his own low-budget horror film. The movie that came from this inspiration…Psycho.
The Last House on the Left (1972)
This was our brutal introduction to a man named Wes Craven who would haunt our dreams, make us scream and shock for the next 40 years. But with the dozens of projects he would later go on to direct, nothing was as gritty and shocking as his first movie, The Last House on the Left (although he did get pretty damn close with his next film, The Hills Have Eyes). The ironic thing about the title is that The Last House on the Left was about the fourth title the film went with. It had previously gone with the names Sex Crime of the Century, Krug and Company and The Men’s Room with little commercial success with any of them. However, when they went with the title The Last House on the Left and launched the “Keep repeating…It’s only a movie” advertising campaign, the movie took off! And to this day, Last House is one of the most memorable ‘House’ movies ever.
You want to talk about fun? You want to talk about horror/comedies that really work? Look no further than House. Although these days William Katt looks a bit more like Kris Kristofferson than he did back in his days in Carrie and “The Greatest American Hero,” he may never have been more entertaining than he was as Roger Cobb in House. Directed by Steve Miner five years after he made his directorial debut with Friday the 13th, Part 2, House introduces us to amusing characters like Sandywitch (who incidentally was played by grossly underrated stand-up comedian Peter Pitofsky; do yourself a favor and look up some of his stuff) and Big Ben (Richard Moll shortly after he started his Thursday night run on “Night Court” as Nostradamus “Bull” Shannon… that’s right, Nostradamus!). Horror/comedy is tough to pull off, but House is an outstanding example of how it’s done.
House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
Horror fans are well aware of the drama that went into the release of House of 1000 Corpses. Initially owned by Universal, the film was later deemed too violent and the rights were sold back to director Rob Zombie, who was able to resell to Lionsgate. This House launched Bill Moseley and Sid Haig into the horror stratosphere of popularity as members of the colorful Firefly Clan (along with Sheri Moon Zombie and Karen Black, among others). Although it goes off the deep end a bit at the conclusion, House of 1000 Corpses created some great characters, had a really entertaining script delivered by masters like Haig and Moseley and was an overall fun time at the movies.
House of the Devil (2009)
Although Ti West’s film House of the Devil was released in 2009, the movie had an incredibly authentic late 70’s/early 80’s feel to it. The house referred to in this one is the home of an incredibly creepy couple, Mr. and Mrs. Ulman (Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov), who hire a babysitter for the night. The story quickly gets very dark and very creepy. With AJ Bowen skulking around in a graveyard and a satanic ritual highlighting the action, House of the Devil is a fantastic homage to the Golden Age of Horror, the Seventies and Eighties!
The Seasoning House (2013)
Taking place in the Balkans in the early 90’s, the house being referred to in The Seasoning House is a brothel that takes girls kidnapped by soldiers and forces them into addiction and prostitution. This was Paul Hyett’s directorial debut, and it’s an absolute punch in the gut. Loaded with hopelessness and depravity, The Seasoning House will drag you in with a great story and then treat you to some stunningly realistic F/X work. As far as ‘House’ movies go, The Seasoning House is certainly an impressive offering.
House in the Alley Synopsis
A young couple, settling into their new life in their spacious home, lose their newborn to a miscarriage. After the tragedy, Thao is inconsolable and won’t let her baby’s body leave the house. She soon begins suffering from terrifying visions and slowly loses her sanity. Her husband, Thanh, also begins experiencing strange things around their home, and when his wife turns on him, he must race to uncover the secrets of the house in the alley before they both lose their minds… and their lives.
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