It's common knowledge that the slashers that came in during the late eighties weren't high on intelligence. Don't believe me? Well, if any of you have seen films like Slaughter High, Blood Diner, Chopping Mall, Killer Workout, The Last Slumber Party, Nail Gun Massacre, etc., then you'll know why. Personally, I prefer the sheer stupidity of these films to the attempts at being scary in the early eighties. That's what I loved about the decade: two different styles to choose from, and so many films to be found (278, to be exact). One such lost film is today's feature review. Forget the Ripley's museum; if you want strangeness, just take a trip down to the...
Horror House on Highway 5 1985 Review
The film opens with a man named Dr. Marbuse (Phil Therrien) quizzing his brother Gary (Max Manthey) on some Latin roots, and tells him that "La Mort" means "love." We then cut to a housewife being scared by her husband, who is sporting a Richard Nixon mask. She tells him to go to the store to get some "stuff", and he goes to his car to go to the store and get the "stuff." He gets killed, the killer steals his mask, goes inde the house, and kills the wife. That's right; it's a killer in a Richard Nixon mask. Then we see a classroom where a professor instructs two of his students, Louise (Susan Leslie) and Mike (Michael Castagnolia; called The Pothead in the credits) to go out near Highway 5 to build their rocket. He also instructs Sally (Irene F.) to go research information on a Nazi scientist named Fredrick Bartholomew, who built the V2 rocket and disappeared.
So Sally goes out to interview some people who know about Bartholomew, and they just so happen to be Marbuse and Gary. They kidnap her and bring her to their house out on Highway 5 to perform some sort of Nazi/German sacrifice(?). However, Gary is developing a crush on Sally and does not wish to harm her. Marbuse accidentally hits himself in the head with a hammer and that apparently causes him to grow increangly stupid has the film progresses. Meanwhile, the killer in a Nixon mask (who is actually Bartholomew, and he is the two brothers' dad) terrorizes anyone who comes down the road (he kills two people, kinda). Louise and Mike continue building their rocket until they too take a trip to the horror house. Will anyone survive the night?
Horror House on Highway 5 is the cinematic equivalent to an fever-induced nightmare you have after watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and getting dead drunk with weed-infused vodka set on fire and then falling asleep while bungee jumping. It's that weird. First, let's start with the bacs. The acting sucks. Everyone in the movie underacts to the extreme, and the only compliments I can give are that Max Manthey was alright as Gary and this one girl was good at playing dead. That's it. There are many examples I can pick, but the biggest is that these people seem really unconcerned about dead or injured people. One character (who has a rake embedded in his forehead) walks around like he's bored, and when he confronts another character, she seems very unconcerned. Kudos to Irene F. (that's what's in the credits) for blaring out the longest scream I think I have ever heard as she just ts still as the killer slowly approaches. The film also has some political goofs, as the person killing people is is disguised as "Tricky Dick", and it is said that he has a deep appreciation for said predent. But other than that, I think the filmmakers tried to make a serious film and I am here to say that they have failed (miserably). For many people in the cast and crew, this was their first (and last) film, with the exception of the director (Richard Casey), who has gone on to do several other un-noteworthy movies.
The writing is especially terrible, with such Oscar-worthy lines as, (from a macho victim to the killer) "I'm gonna fuck you!" Or, (from the macho victim's girlfriend to the macho victim) "What's worng with you? You ran that guy over! You must have a very low IQ!" or from that same woman to the killer, "Relax! Just put your fucking mind at rest. Are you nuts?" And let's not forget, (from Marbuse to Gary) "What's wrong with you? You have a boner!" Don't worry; I haven't spoiled all the good lines in the movie! There's also some hilarious WTF moments, like when Gary presses a hot iron against Sally's boob, or when they start "dancing." There's also an extremely pointless moment when Gary accidentally kidnaps the wrong woman and leaves her on a park bench. And let's not forget the part where Marbuse goes after Louise with a hand-cranked drill, and trust me; seeing someone coming after you while cranking a drill isn't too frightening (at all). And let's not forget the part where a woman "trips" and "falls" onto a glass table, which is choreographed so poorly, it's hilarious. Also, the ending makes absolutely no sense at all, condering what we learn over the course of the movie.
I'm not entirely sure where the people behind Horror House on Highway 5 wanted to go with the movie. It's undeniable that they were treating it seriously, but there are also some comedic touches, so it's near imposble to tell what was running through their minds while making this movie. This is also one of the few films I have had the chance to see that actually makes me feel as if I'm getting dumber while I'm watching it. Don't ask me to explain it, but once you see this movie for yourself, you'll get what I'm saying. The acting is horrid, the writing and dialogue are some of the most incompetent things I've had the chance to witness, the gore effects are only passable, the plot is all over the place, and the ending makes no sense. But, truth be told, I really enjoyed this movie. It's so bad, so weird, and so surreal it must be seen to be believed. Surpringly enough, it's been released on DVD by Timeless Video with a not-that-great picture and not-that-great sound, as well as one bonus feature that really has nothing to do with the movie, which is a documentary about horror from the '40s to about the '60s-'70s (and features the trailer for Horror House, with the voice over calling it "ahead of its time"). It's definitely worth a look, even if you definitely will never watch it again.
The Verdict: Awful in every way imaginable, Horror House on Highway 5
is a very surreal and incredibly weird film that's enjoyable for all the wrong reasons.
Dont trust my judgment? Heres four other opinions: