Mill Creek Entertainment released four SyFy originals to DVD, so folks can watch ’em anytime they like. Is that a good thing? Well, for the most part, it actually is. Let’s take a look at these four films, perfect for a Halloween Season binge-watch. Each film has a general haunted house theme, tying the films together. Who doesn’t love a theme?
But first? HOLY BLIP THE PLASTIC REEKS. I had to put the case outside immediately upon opening. Phew! Sorry, had to say that. Keep the cover in an open area, or else you’ll get all sorts of ooked out by the chemical stench. Luckily, it vanished overnight. Okay, let’s do this.
1 – H.P. Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror
So, so very bad. Not fun to watch bad, mind numbingly boring bad. A criminal waste of Dean Stockwell and Jeffrey Combs. Supposedly based on the story of the same name by Lovecraft, this express train to dullsville suffers from choppy editing, bad dialogue, and a plot that wanders all over the place in order to pad its run time to movie length. That this Dunwich is in Louisiana is the only interesting thing in this movie. At least they got the real clunker out of the way, right?
2 – House of Bones
Charisma Carpenter and Corin Nemic star in probably the best known movie in this set. A “but it’s REALLY haunted” story about a group of people filming in a haunted house they believe is just BS. Cue the spooky! Great performances from the cast, even with a script that’s barely one step away from horror boilerplate. Carpenter gives her all as The Psychic One. She’s way too good for this film. So’s the whole cast. Still, it’s a fun bad-it’s-great ninety minutes, with some disgustingly effective onscreen FX.
3 – Mask Maker (aka Masquerade)
Hey ladies? If your boyfriend buys you both house without consulting you AND FORGES YOUR SIGNATURE ON THE DEED? Call a Lyft, stat. Book it darlin. Or this happens. (Okay, even if it doesn’t turn out to be a murder house, he’s still a douche.)
This movie starts with a baby sacrifice, setting the gory tone. The Big Bad is a bloody twist on Leatherface’s standard op. Yeah the story is the same old one-by-one-they-die “plot”, but the excellently crafted onscreen gore FX and the short run time make it a quick little nasty. Treat Williams shows up for a few minutes to collect a check/pay back a favor, and Michael Berryman and Terry Kiser as the requisite Old Guys Who Know Things About That House.
4 – American Horror House (aka Paranormal Initiation)
Morgan Fairchild and a crew of practically unknowns star in this fun mashup of sorority slasher and ghostly shenanigans. But oh come on, couldn’t they get someone who actually plays the violin at least a little bit for a character that’s a music major? Probably the worst fake playing I’ve ever seen. As with the rest of the movies here, there’s plenty of padding to flesh this out to an (almost) 90 minute film.
This one ticks a whole lot of genre boxes. Halloween hazing! Creepy ghosts! Psychics! Bloody deaths! Filled with the usual hilariously obvious CGI FX the SyFy channel is known for, though as with Mask, the practical FX are excellent. (But bee tee dub, the tongue isn’t connected to the intestines. #TheMoreYouKnow)
Summary: Skip the first one unless you’re a real masochist, or are a Combs completist. But the other three make for a fun night.
Company: Mill Creek Entertainment
Release Date: September 17, 2019
NOTE: I did receive a promotional copy of this DVD. I did not, however, get chocolate, kittens, beer, or anything else for writing this review.