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December 4, 2011

Movie Review: House of the Damned (15th Anniversary Edition, 1996)

Directed by Sean Weathers

Starring~ Valerie Alexander, Blue and Illa

Reviewed By Kenny Barnwell

Plot~The film opens with an old man in a wheelchair telling his son a story about an evil woman who kills those around her in order to stay young. The man doesn’t believe the story and begins to leave. From out of the closet bursts the woman wielding a hammer, and smashes his skull in. A year later, the murdered mans daughter Liz (Valerie Alexander) is having a difficult time adjusting. She doesn’t leave the house much, still grieving. Her mother Emily (Monica Williams) gets her out to enjoy a day, her birthday. To be more exact, her 21st birthday. Unknowing to Liz, her mother invites all her friends over for a birthday party.

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What they were not expecting was the terror that lies within the home and the sacrifices that will be made to keep the she-devil looking young. Once in the house, Liz is beckoned to her grandfathers room where he reveals the terrible secret her mother has kept from her. The secret that her mother is in fact hundreds of years old, being kept youthful by a pact she had made, promising tokill her daughters each on their 21st birthday. She also finds out that her father and grandfather are in fact her brothers. As the night unfolds, Liz's friends are attacked, one by one and turned into zombies by her mother, (Voodoo zombies, mind you) using them to help her in her sinister plan to sacrifice her daughter in exchange for eternal beauty. Liz must fight her way through the hordes and destroy her mother or face certain death.

This film was shot in 1996 on a budget of about $10,000 and was the directorial debut of Sean Weathers. And I must say, well played Mr. Weathers, well played. There were a lot of things about this flick that I just fell in love with. It was shot in black and white, which worked perfectly, adding to the creepiness and, along with the lighting, also helped to hide the fact that they had no money to spare on makeup effects. The scenes involving the ghostly shirt climbing the stairs and the floating knife were shot with an extra grainy effect that was pretty cool, and the score was great, which seems to be something Weathers has a real talent for in his films since he does all the music himself.

One scene in particular that was a complete hoot was the one in which Liz is pinned to a bed by one of her zombified friends and is forced to endure an in-your-face freestyle rap centered on how fucking stupid she is and how she is about to meet her end. The girlfriend and I were rolling throughout this whole scene, an absolute fucking classic! Even the torturously long fight scene in the basement between Liz and her lesbian zombie friend was made fun with the great lighting and sound effects. This movie was pure low-budget campy goodness, crafted by a guy who obviously has a true love of the genre and its my belief that as time passes and more people discover this gem it will reach a certain cult status, and deservedly so. Weathers packed quite a bit into the 70 minutes he had to work with here, and at the risk of sounding basphemous, dare I say, it even reminded me of the directorial work of a certain youngster named George Romero back in the late 60's. Yes, I just said that.

If you run across this movie I highly recommend you grab it, we thought it was pretty damn fun.

Favorite Line~ As she's smashing in her sons skull in with a hammer, Emily screams, “Kill you! Son of a bitch! Why are you moving?!?! Die!!!!”..........absolute heaven.

7.5 out of 10...with that being said, if I was rating based on what was achieved from a $10,000 budget, it would be a 9 out of 10.

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