Is House III: The Horror Show a show-stopper?

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Welcome to my column dedicated to the appreciation of physical media supplements called: Feature Overviews. The purpose of this column isn’t to say whether a movie is good or bad and worth picking up or not – I’d like to highlight the records that go the extra mile and provide moviegoers with enough tasty treats to satisfy even the hungriest moviegoers. With all that out of the way, today’s article will focus on Video Arrowthe exit of House III: The Horror Show.

As a disclaimer, the Video Arrow version of House III: The Horror Show is only available on the UK sold out box set. And while the box set is aimed at Europe, the discs are all regional and should work on US players.

If you have read my columns on Accommodation and House II: the second storyyou can probably judge that i have mixed feelings about Accommodation franchise so far. The original is a childhood favorite, while the second film swung the pendulum on the goofy, family-friendly side. So it’s only natural for a franchise as wacky as this that the third entry over-corrects and veers into the over-the-top, R-rated slasher side.

Take a note, or maybe the other way around, House III: The Horror Show mimics patterns in the vein of by Wes Craven shock. Lance Henriksen plays Detective Lewis McCarthy on the hunt for serial killer “Meat Cleaver Max” Jenke, played by the underrated Brion James. After Max is captured and killed by electrocution, McCarthy and his family find spiritual hauntings in their residence.

Whereas House III: The Horror Show plays closer to my sensibility, it doesn’t work as well as I would have hoped. Whereas shock embrace the madness with the movie premise and go balls against the wall, House III isn’t as crazy as I wanted it to be. Where the film lacks story, those looking for gore should be pleasantly surprised. I guess those behind the film overcompensated in an area where the rest of the movement was lacking.

Even though House III lacking in most areas, the behind-the-scenes production is the most interesting in the franchise. Video Arrow understands this and gave House III: The Horror Show the most love and care of any record in this set.

As with the first two films, Sean S. Cunningham headlines an audio commentary with producer/filmmaker Michael Felsher. Felsher does well in providing Cunningham with inquiries about all aspects of the film’s production. Cunningham details the film’s production issues, director Jim Isaac coming to replace the film’s original director, and his thoughts and opinions on the MPAA. Even if Cunningham falls silent or narrates the on-screen action, Felsher always brings Cunningham back on track. Cunningham works best when he has someone knowledgeable and ready to answer questions, and Felsher is the person for you.

McCarthy with his gun drawn in a room with blood on the walls.

The first interview on the record, “The Show Must Go On”, is a discussion with Kane Hoder. Anyone who has seen or heard of Kane Hodder knows he orders an interview without forcing it. For ten minutes, “The Show Must Go On” has Hodder reminiscing about his time on set. He praises the production, talks about his stunts, including one about a fall gone wrong and the worst ankle sprain of his career. Although short, this interview contains a lot of information and, above all, it is just a pleasure to hear from Kane Hodder.

“House Mother”, the second interview, is a conversation with actress Rita Taggart. “House Mother” is another ten-minute session where Taggart discusses his work, time on set, and other asides. Taggart talks about his fun with the original director of House III: The Horror Show, David Blyth, working close to Lance Henriksen and what studio smoke gives actors. It’s an interesting anecdote, and Taggart remembers the time of filming House III: The Horror Show as a positive experience.

“Slaughter, Inc.” is a featurette with KNB Effects artists Robert Kurtzman, Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger. Now that’s a feature! Kurtzman, Nicotero and Berger discuss their debut before House III before diving into how they created the film’s many gore gags. As mentioned, the film leans heavily into gore, and it’s welcome to hear the workers behind those nasty effects having their moment to talk about their finished products. Each set is discussed in depth and offset by behind-the-scenes footage of the team organizing the make-up moments. “Slaughter, Inc.” is a great feature.

Video Arrow also included a compilation of on-set footage throughout the filming of the film. This flying feature on the wall is a VHS quality compilation showcasing multiple scene setups and film takes. Something like this feature is what is sorely lacking in other physical media releases. There are no fluff or false narratives, just raw images with no agenda. With this VHS feature, we’re transported back to 1989 and see what all of House III: The Horror Show is. We see multiple setups with the makeup department, actors rehearsing with each other, and different takes during different scenes. The behind-the-scenes look won’t be for everyone, as it shows just how tedious and boring being on set can be, but if something like this interests you, like me, then this should be for you!

Video Arrow also included a feature called “job print trimmings”. And the toppings they are! This feature is a small sample of slight moments from the original imprint. There’s not much here worth discussing, but whenever media from a film’s print is provided, it’s appreciated, as it’s rare to find on a release of physical press.

Back to why House III: The Horror Show gets the most love from Video Arrowboth versions of the movie are included in this release: the uncut European version and the R-rated American theatrical version. And even though the uncut version won’t change anyone’s opinion of House IIIrestoring uncut gore footage to high definition is a welcome inclusion.

To complete the disc, Arrow Video includes the trailer for the film under the American title, The Horror Show. If I had to nitpick, this is the only entry that doesn’t come with a documentary on the production of the film. As the film seemed troubled from the start, it’s understandable that no one wants to relive old memories, but it’s the one glaring feature missing from an otherwise stellar record.

Max, smiling while wearing a blonde wig.

And There you go! House III: The Horror Show fits tightly into Accommodation canon franchise – in that it has nothing to do with previous entries and swings the pendulum of the genre of the House II: the second storythe comedy theme on the horror side. This franchise is crazy. Fortunately, Arrow Video did this underseen slasher justice with a record. packed to the gills with many features and is a killer version for the somewhat forgotten “slashic”.

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