BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
There are few things MORE terrifying to me than an exaggerated Richard Nixon mask. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the extended nose or the heavily-lined cheeks, but it just creeps me the fuck out. In fact, it might be the single most terrifying thing that I know of. You’re aware of Michael Myers and his pasty white Captain Kirk mask, but have YOU heard of the satanic secrets of a reclusive Nazi (possibly living in rural America) named Dr. Fredrick Bartholomew? I didn’t think so.
Written and directed by Richard Casey, Horror House on Highway 5 is basement level entertainment. Let's get that out of the way first. It’s clunky, awkward, and (largely) makes no damn sense as it attempts to switch between two parallel storylines that both involve rockets, Satan, and Nazism. For one group of teens, their outrageous assignment in rural America leads to an unfortunate encounter with a masked psycho killer. For the other college student tasked with getting some information, her mission begins and ends in an apartment with two psychos obsessed with satanic verses and shaming each other for their noticable boners.
In an effort to go somewhere different with the Slasher genre, Horror House on Highway 5 simply goes nowhere. Yet, somewhere in all its failures lies a film experience that cannot be easily shaken. The film works in spite of itself and that, my friends, is to be applauded. And it all begins with a reckless assignment from a stupid teacher to three students – Sally (Irene Cagen, from THX 1138), Louise (Susan Leslie), and Mike (Michael Castagnolia) – all working on a project about Germany’s V-2 rocket.
Casey’s horror film is best left to the midnight marauders out there. These are the fans of terror that searched the shelves in those mom and pop video stores that used to be on the corner of Main street. They were looking for the weirdest and the trashiest titles they could find. I spent many a buck on those dollar-priced rentals. Gladly. Horror House On Highway 5 was one of them. And it has only grown in its influence, thanks to the knock-offs who put victims in the paths of killers wearing the faces of dead presidents. You can practically hear the VHS tape hiss and crinkle when you press play on this cleaned-up release from Vinegar Syndrome. It’s a film that is as rough around the edges as it is bizarre and unnerving. It is, in fact, EXACTLY the place where insanity and ability converge. Welcome to the Horror House on Highway 5.
One of the director’s many claims is that he got his start making music videos for some friends of his. This release supports one of those music videos That certainly could be true because there are a lot of memorable images pieced together here in the Horror House. But nothing speaks as loud as that insane-looking Richard Milhous Nixon mask.
That being said, the loosey-goosey dialogue running throughout the script only adds to the overall bizarreness of the flick. After the brutal attack in the opening scene, a couple out on a date actually are terrorized by the Nixon masked psycho. They run him over in their car. The woman, looking none to pleased about her date’s attempts to smash the psycho with the car, says to him, “”What’s wrong with you!? You just ran that guy over, you must have a low IQ!” The lines only get better from there.
The film is both intentional in its use of humor and unintentional. The unintentional moments will have you bowled over at the waist. The intentional lines of humor work only slightly. Talk about mixed signals. Combine this with all the blood spatter flailing about and you have a rock n roll rollercoaster of mixed reactions. What the movie does successfully is create a surreal viewing experience that – while easily dismissed in the moment with its many awful lines – stays with you long after the closing credits.
You could even say that Horror House on Highway 5 haunts you. It does me. There’s much we don’t know about the plot because Casey doesn’t bother to explain much. And there’s much we won’t ever know, too. You can stick around and listen to the commentary if you want, but that's not really going to help clear matters up much. Regardless, Vinegar Syndrome's handling of Casey's film is to be commended.
The doors of Horror House on Highway 5 have swung open once again.
MPAA Rating: Not rated.
Runtime: 87 mins
Director: Richard Casey
Writer: Richard Casey
Cast: Phil Therrien, Max Manthey, Irene F.
Tagline: They were young and in love. He was crazy. She was dead.
Memorable Movie Quote: "What the hell is this dead cat doing here?"
Release Date: No theatrical release
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: September 27, 2016
Synopsis: A mysterious killer, wearing a Nixon mask, terrorizes and murders a young couple. A professor assigns his students a project investigating the strange events connected to a possibly dead Nazi scientist, Dr. Fredrick Bartholomew. The doctor's assistant kidnaps students, holding them hostage and torturing them. Meanwhile, Nixon stalks the night!
Vinegar Syndrome Exclusive / Limited Edition 3,000 copies
Available on Blu-ray - September 27, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles: English SDH
Audio: English; DTS-HD Mono
Discs: Single blu-ray disc | DVD Disc
Region Encoding: Region A
Vinegar Syndrome presents Horror House on Highway 5 on blu-ray with a 1080p transfer that is presented in the film’s original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The transfer was scanned and restored in 2k from 16mm archival elements. It isn’t pretty, but it is gloriously gritty with eye-catching details, a nice layer of grain, and solid black levels that add a bit more depth to the picture than ever seen before. Colors are strong, but their deep black backgrounds tend to dominate the picture. The film's original mono 1.0 DTS-HD MA soundtrack, which also supplies clean dialogue and a weird soundtrack so you will need to TURN IT UP.
Ricard Casey can talk and talk and talk and talk. His memory is quite good, too. This commentary is for fans of the picture who really want its director to help them make sense of the plot.
Limited to just 3000 copies, you seriously will need to act fast in order to snag your spot at the Horror House. A nice 18-min long retrospective featuring NEW interviews from the director and other folks involved with the film gets things started nicely. With this AND the commentary, you really need nothing more to know about the film. The only other offering on this limited release is a music video for Beach Party with Vom, also directed by Casey. The release also includes reversible cover art from Kevin Thomas.
- Return to Horror House
- Beach Party with Vom Music Video