a.k.a. La Casa 3
Umberto Lenzi’s first entry in the La Casa series was 1988′s Ghosthouse. It’s a standard ghost story about a little ghost girl and her sufficiently creepy clown doll. The origin story is confusing at best, but the important part is that now a group of random people are in an abandoned home because of a strange radio broadcast. Young ghost girl and her clown terrorize each visitor in a variety of ghostly ways. That’s about it. The good news is there is a decent amount of gore throughout and the haunted house clichés are plentiful. Seriously, there’s cob webs, the spiral metal staircase, the ritualistic setup of candles, the mortuary, the creepy kids room, the dusty abandoned room, the long eerie hall, and so on. All it’s missing is an Indian burial ground, but don’t be ridiculous, this is an Italian film.
The acting is pretty atrocious throughout and most of the cast had little to no career outside of this film. However, there are a couple recognizable faces. Lara Wendel (My Dear Killer, Tenebre, and Zombie 5: Killing Birds) is Martha and fans of StageFright will recognize Susan (Mary Sellers). The mortician is played by Robert Champagne, who is also one of the many leads in La Casa 4. As far as talent goes, Sellers outshines the rest.
For some reason I want to draw a connection between this and Lucio Fulci’s Sweet House of Horrors even though they really have no more in common than any other haunted house films. The intro, however, is similar and remains one of the best parts of the movie. Ghosthouse is definitely better than Fulci’s made-for-TV travesty (which was part of a series that Lenzi contributed to as well, by the way…more on that coming later on Lenzi Wednesday) with plenty of gore scattered throughout. Still, the opening and the rest of the film seem fairly disconnected, as was my issue with Sweet House of Horrors.
All in all it’s not a terrible haunted house film. It’s absolutely on the cheesy and terribly-acted side, but the entertainment value is good. It’s even got a nice little twist ending (if a little cliché). The gore is decently done and there’s enough to keep Italian horror fans satisfied.
For those of you who have seen La Casa 4 (Witchery), here’s a little pros and cons comparison:
No David Hasselhoff
Stars Mary Sellers
Overall, a higher quality film than Witchery
No Linda Blair
Also stars plenty of terrible actors
No terribly-synced demon-voice for Linda Blair
So please, take that for what it’s worth and decide for yourself.