In the late 80s, the horror genre flirted with the prison theme of dead men walking—literally! A year after the release of the movie Prison and just in time to compete with Wes Craven’s Shocker, the 1989 flick The Horror Show flopped just as bad. It also got slapped with a House 3 title in some countries, which explains why the U.S. got a House IV after House II.
The Horror Show is actually 80s goodness and I prefer it to Shocker (Prison is in a class of its own). It’s loaded with gore, cheap scares, and heavy metal and hard rock music. Plus, the little brother in the movie has the awesome line ”Never sneak up on a man when he’s blasting Metallica!”
Always creepy looking Brion James is the perfect man for the job of ghostly psycho killer sentenced to the electric chair then resurrected in supernatural form to get revenge. Lance Henriksen is the detective who fried him.
After the killer is electrocuted, a giggling, Casper-looking ghost floats out from under the sheet covering his body in the morgue. The killer’s ghost spends a majority of the movie in the basement of Lance Henriksen’s (H)ouse (3). There are plenty of suspenseful moments and jump scares when the mother and daughter go into the basement for various reasons, like fetching a dress to wear or chasing a pussy. But my favorite basement scene has to be when the daughter’s boyfriend sneaks into the basement (also to chase pussy) and the klller ghost seduces him into taking off his shirt using the daughter’s voice.
Meanwhile, Lance is being bombarded by dreams and visions of the killer. It’s all nice and bloody and there are plenty of trippy scenes (like the killer’s face in a turkey on the dinner table) that seem to be imitating the Elm Street series. There’s even a flaming furnace in the basement and a warehouse chase filled with pipes and catwalks. How is this movie not Wes Craven’s Shocker?
The Horror Show gets grisly and dark as Lance is forced to take on the killer. After all the horrible things the killer does to Lance’s wife, daughter, and son, the biggest disappointment is that we get your typical happy ending! But it’s still one awesome lost 80s horror flick I can finally add to my collection now that it’s out on Blu-ray (it’s a DVD combo pack for those of you who don’t have Blu-ray).