Gore was the name of the game during the Italian horror craze of the 80s and the majority of popular titles in the genre have multiple memorable scenes that feature graphic carnage such as in the zombie and cannibal flicks or inventive methods of death in the giallos. As Ghosthouse plays more like a cheesy haunted house flick rather than a splatter showcase (although it does have some bloody moments), it has not attracted the same kind of attention that other films have. In addition to being a little restrained with the red stuff, there is a fairly unknown cast (with the exception of Dr. Butcher himself) and the score is not by Goblin or Fabio Frizzi. Although we have Umberto Lenzi (Cannibal Ferox) at the helm, it does not have a controversial history and Lenzi is pretty much the only thing that drew me to this (besides the fact that Scream Factory added it to their library). Even though everything I have said makes this movie sound somewhat unremarkable, I have to admit I kind of liked it.
Greg Scott stars as Paul, a radio operator who receives a disturbing transmission of a man sounding like he is in peril followed by a woman screaming. With his girlfriend Martha (Lara Wendel - Tenebre) in tow, Paul heads off to track down the source of the voices and the couple are led to an abandoned house in a rural area. The house certainly looks haunted but the two go in anyways and discover a radio in the attic as well as a man named Jim (Martin Jay) who seems a bit jumpy. It turns out that Jim is the voice on the transmission but no one knows how it happened (including Jim's siblings who were with him). Soon strange things begin to happen and the characters hear unsettling children's music and there are frequent appearances by a creepy little girl and her evil-looking clown doll. Rather than leave immediately as more and more bizarre things happen, the characters continually go into the haunted house and follow the music despite their better judgement. Also lurking around is a crazy handyman named Valkos (Donald O'Brien - Zombie Holocaust) who adds a slasher movie element to the proceedings as he has a penchant for attempted murder. Will the illogical young group come to their senses and get the hell away for this madness? You'll have to watch to find out.
I didn't have high hopes going into this as I heard it was boring and it certainly does not have the reputation of other Eurohorror flicks but I have to say that I was pretty entertained and the running time flew by pretty quickly. There are a few surprisingly gory scenes and even though they are not on the level of The Beyond or Suspiria, they kept me interested. In fact, the only real problem that I had with this flick is that the characters are so incredibly stupid and ignorant and they walk right into harm's way whenever the opportunity arises. The amount of times these people go back into the house even after bad things have happened is pretty astounding. The only person who seems to have a level head is Paul but his heroics are quite far-fetched considering he has no real motivation to involve himself in the mystery of figuring out what is going on but he becomes obsessed with finding answers. I would have been far away and calling Zelda Rubinstein after the first few bars of unsettling merry-go-round music started filling the house and I certainly would not have been investigating things.
Lenzi does an adequate job with the visuals with more of a point and shoot approach rather than the camera gymnastics of Dario Argento. He doesn't do a lot with the actors as they simply walk into one unfortunate situation after another but a few of the ladies give Linnea Quigley a run as far a screaming talent goes. I found that Greg Scott and Mary Sellers were the best actors and Sellers looked great both when riding a motorbike or washing her face with blood. While I can't give this a particularly glowing review from a technical or notoriety standpoint, it is entertaining enough and worth a look if you are a fan of Italian horror movies or creepy dolls. Just don't expect this to be The Changeling or Poltergeist. In Italy, this was retitled La Casa 3 making it an unofficial and unrelated sequel to Evil Dead 2. (Josh Pasnak, 9/24/15)
Directed By: Humphrey Humbert (Umberto Lenzi).
Written By: Cinthia McGavin, Humphrey Humbert (Umberto Lenzi).
Starring: Lara Wendel, Greg Scott, Mary Sellers, Ron Houck.