The Horror Show (1989)
Trailer (I could only find this, which is in Spanish or Japanese or something, but somehow it makes it better):
What’s It About: We start off with Lance Henriksen’s family movies, which is a horror show to most people. Has he ever shown the emotion of joy in a movie? One of the weirdest opening credits sequences ever: Lance Henriksen talking emotionlessly over BBQ footage.
After the pointless BBQ, Lucas (Lance’s character) smells an intruder in his house. He goes down to the basement, which I’m almost positive is the same basement set from Home Alone. He sees a huge fire in his furnace (how did that setup ever pass inspection?) and has a cop flashback. He and his nervous partner are after a killer at a restaurant. Lance finds a hand and a cop head in the fryers, then the Blue Plate Special: a cop’s severed head. So this restaurant is an Applebee’s?
He finds his really nervous partner hanging from a hook with his arm cut off and he cries that he was scared. What a shitty cop.
He bumps into Max Jenke (Brion James, pronounced “Jinkies!” like Velma from Scooby Doo says when she reaches climax) holding a girl hostage. Jenke slices the girl’s head off and throws it at Lance. But it’s just a dream! He wakes up next to his wife who turns into Brion in a wig! He buries a cleaver in Lance’s chest. But it’s just a dream! So he tries to strangle his wife. It happens.
Lucas goes to see Jenke’s execution. Jenke has requested to be buried with his meat cleaver. He’s murdered 110 people, including 7 cops. Seems excessive. Any last words Jenke? “Blow it out your ass, pinhead.” That’s exactly what my Grandpa Chuck said to us on his deathbed.
The electric chair doesn’t kill him, so they increase the voltage. It splits his skin, sets him on fire and makes him the Hulk for a minute as he busts out of his straps. He warns Lucas that he’s coming back to tear his world apart. Through the power of song, is what I assume.
Some shady professor goes to the morgue to look at Jenke’s body. Suddenly all the stuff in the morgue goes nuts, his voltage meter goes up and Electric Ghost Jenke comes out of Jenke’s body. Uh, how? At least Shocker, which is the exact same movie except it took place in locations other than a basement, had some lame devil worship explanation. Then Jenke finds his way to Lucas’s furnace, somehow. Not explained whatsoever.
Tangent: Lots of movies from late ’80s early ’90s have a furnace like that where is just a blazing inferno that you can see behind an open grate: Home Alone, The ‘burbs, etc. While it looks cool, I refuse to believe anyone had a furnace like that past 1960. Oh, by the way, Lucas’s family lives in California and it appears to be summer.
Lucas sees a shrink and they start talking about stigmata because Lucas has been bleeding from the chest where Jenke cleaved him in the dream. Let’s not get stupid here, guys.
There’s a weird scene about Lucas’s son Scott getting free Nestlé Quik because he wrote them saying he found a rat hair in his last batch. Oooooookay. This has absolutely nothing to do with anything at all in this life or the next.
The Professor tries to warn Lucas that Jenke is now some kind of energy being or something, but Lucas tells him to go piss up a flagpole, in so many words.
Everything this family does they do in the basement. It seems like all their clothes are down there. For some reason, the daughter’s boyfriend, Vinnie, is hiding out down there to scare her. How he got down there without anyone in the family noticing and why he didn’t just wait for her elsewhere is anyone’s guess, but he’s clearly going to die.
Somehow Jenke imitates the daughter’s voice to seduce Vinnie, who is still in the f*cking basement for some reason. Jenke pops up, as Jenke, no ghost form, and cleavers Vinnie. *yawn* Wasn’t expecting that…
Bonnie (the daughter) goes down to find Vinnie but can’t, but she’s glad she put that basement visit toward her quota of 18 basement visits per day.
Meanwhile, as Lucas is about to make it with his old lady, Jenke, uh, calls him? OK…
Bonnie gets Scott to help her find Vinnie because she still thinks he’s in the house after several hours, just like hiding in a closet for no reason? Scott actually says what I was thinking, maybe he just left? No, Bonnie says, he was way too horny. You got me there…
Lucas goes down to the basement and yells at the furnace like many an elderly man before him. Jenke’s voice snarks back at him. Jenke has an incredibly annoying laugh. They could have executed him just for that.
The next day, Lucas’s wife makes a giant Thanksgiving turkey… for lunch. Of course, Lucas hallucinates that the turkey has Jenke’s head.
Then the family is watching an unfunny comedian on TV and Lucas hallucinates that Jenke is on the TV telling jokes. Ironically, Jenke’s death jokes are funnier than the real comedian. “My wife says take me someplace I’ve never been before. So I say how about the kitchen, or the morgue?” I wonder if Dangerfield got paid for this?
Then Jenke taunts Lucas that he hasn’t played “Bang the Beaver” with his wife in a long time. So he shoots the TV. I know exactly how he feels.
Lucas needs closure on this Jenke thing. He says he needs to know where to find him. Uh, probably cremated? But he goes to Jenke’s apartment anyway, where he finds some pictures of his own family. The Professor, Professor Peter Campbell, shows up and explains Jenke isn’t dead, the electrocution allowed Jenke to move from the material plane. Why? How? Good questions, but I’m sorry if you actually want coherent answers. According to The Professor, pure evil is a form of electromagnetic energy. Really??? Jenke had an electric chair in his pad to like build up his electricity tolerance. Makes no f*cking sense. The professor says they need to find Jenke, bring him back to his apartment and electrocute him a lot more, then they can shoot him. It seems they had a general idea for a script, heard about Shocker, and had to change it into this dumb garbage.
Jenke calls Bonnie as Vinnie to get her to find his wallet… in the goddamn basement… and says he left her a “surprise” in the basement. (I’m still not sure what his powers are supposed to be. He makes Lucas hallucinate all the time, somehow, and can materialize wherever. Why doesn’t he kill Lucas then go materialize in Tahiti?) Then Bonnie finds Vinnie’s body in the basement. SUPPLIES!
So Lucas is going to take the rap for killing Vinnie. I really hate that “falsely accused” crap.
Meanwhile, the professor is trying experiments to get rid of Jenke. Then Jenke shows up and cleaves him. So much for that experiment.
Lucas gets his balls busted by the fuzz for what seems like an excessively long time. Then… ugh… Jenke shows up posing as a lawyer and cleaves the table. But guess what? It’s a hallucination. OK enough with that. It’s getting old.
Finally a little boob! Just a quick overhead shot of Bonnie in the shower but at least we’re not hallucinating it. Then she goes back to her room and *yawn* Jenke shows up. He tells Bonnie he has a present for her and it’s not a Pandora charm.
Lucas escapes the interrogation room by punching out a cop then casually leaving.
The mom follows the dead little girl… *yawwwwwn* down to the f*cking basement. Jenke makes out with her. The mom, not the little girl. But who cares, really?
Lucas comes home and finds Scott dead with his headphones jammed down his ear. He must have been listening to Phil Collins. Then he goes to Bonnie’s room to find that she’s pregnant… with Jenke’s head. Then the cut on his chest gets big. Then he passes out. Then I pass out from overwhelming indifference.
He wakes up and bloody ear Scott and new mommy Bonnie are at the turkey table. He tries to smash the Jenke baby but it’s all a hallucination. Then, more basement, more furnace. Come on.
He hallucinates a lot more, and the professor’s severed head tells him to use electricity from the plant where he originally caught Jenke to kill him. This movie really pretty much sucks.
He keeps following Jenke and his wife through this hallucination plant. I’m not following any of this. Boring story short, they fight and Lucas and his wife electrocute Jenke in the… dream world, I guess? Then somehow they’re back at Jenke’s apartment and Lucas shoots him a lot. Makes no f*cking sense.
Epilogue: The family is moving out, presumably someplace with a bigger basement. Lucas tells Bonnie to see if she left anything IN THE F*CKING BASEMENT. COME ON!! Then some chili baron shows up with a bunch if chili because Scott said he found a finger in their chili and WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING?!?!?!
Bonnie comes out with the goddamn cat. The end. So those murder charges went away because they found an already dead man’s body???
Is It Actually Scary: Only if you have a fear of basements and/or furnaces.
Scariest Moment: My grandmother’s house had a basement and in one part of it there was a sump pump in a water-filled hole that used to scare the crap out of me when I was a kid because my sister and I thought it was the portal to Hell. That doesn’t have anything to do with this awful movie, which isn’t scary at all, but since 98% of it is set in a basement it reminded me of that story.
How Much Gore: An OK amount, I guess, not enough to hold my attention.
Dumbest Moment: Both times Scott gets a delivery of free stuff because he writes a falsified letter to companies. They’re shoehorned into the movie so badly that a shoehorn watched this and committed suicide. They have as much to do with the movie as Lance Henriksen has to do with convincing smiles.
Any Nudity: About half a second’s worth of half a nipple.
Overall: I really just kind of hated this outright. It’s not quite a scrotum-chilling abomination like Ghoulies (which also has a lot of basement scenes), but it’s just stupid and pointless. The plot is dumb and the action is boring. There is no reason given for how Jenke can do what he does, and no rules for what he does. It’s like they kind of wanted to make it like Nightmare on Elm Street but couldn’t do dreams so they used hallucinations instead. But the difference between this and Nightmare on Elm Street is that Elm Street was creative, scary and had a memorable villain. Although, there were a lot of basement furnaces involved…
By the way, this movie was known as House 3 outside of the US for no real reason, it seems, although The Horror Show doesn’t make a ton of sense as a title, either. House 3 is actually kind of fitting, since nearly everything that happens is in the basement of the house. And also, like the other House movies it’s pretty lousy.Score: 2 Brion James balding ponytail hairstyles (out of 10)