More and more these days, the movies I like most and are winners at my Halloween gatherings are totally trashed by most. I prefer watching the kinds of films that clearly show the hard work enthusiastic filmmakers with no budget put into them. Most of the movies I watched on VHS in the 80s were of that variety. And having seen high profile horror like Sinister, The Possession, and The Apparition on cable in recent months, it’s no contest. I have to go with my low-budget crap.
Which is why I watched a double feature last night about kids doing major cleanups of old houses, but who end up summoning demons, zombies, and buckets of blood instead. The Slaughter and Dead Dudes in the House satisfy my itch for movies like Night of the Demons and Evil Dead. And I’d rather watch The Slaughter and Dead Dudes in the House over and over again before the remakes of either of those movies.
THE SLAUGHTER (2006)
When I first watched The Slaughter, I thought the only things it had going for it were the freaky demon bitch (on the DVD cover) and tons of naked chicks—if you’re into that sort of thing—but then it turned into total camp-comedy and scored as a favorite of mine.
The opener, shot mostly in black and white (switches to color when the blood flies), seems to be an excuse to get tight-bodied chicks naked to satisfy the straight male audience. It looks like something college kids would create in Filmmaking 101 and then post on YouTube, right down to the old trick of overlaying film to get transparent “ghost hands.”
We then get almost an hour of this group of kids cleaning house, being harassed by a nasty real estate mogul and his bitchy assistant, finding the Book of the Dead in the basement, and making references to political leanings. It’s so not my thing in horror films—but I appreciate that there’s actually a self-referential joke about it later in the film. Meanwhile, we are also teased by a few demon and ghost sightings, a couple of fricking awesome gore kills, and a bit of nudity.
By the campy second half of the film, viewers are probably revolting that the first half takes itself so seriously and then suddenly becomes completely, intentionally farcical. In The Slaughter’s defense, the original Evil Dead (which the movie clearly wants to emulate) sort of panned out the same way, although it didn’t go as over-the-top and comical at the end, mostly because Bruce had no one to talk to but himself.
The guys are dang cute and the blond arrogant prick (there’s always one) gets shirtless (wahoo!) and turns out to be one of my favorite characters. Despite his dicky attitude, he’s the first one to demand that they don’t read from the occult book, and he’s the first to want to get the hell out of there. He also ends up with some fricking awesome one-liners. And his fricking last name is WOOD. Yeah. The name is well-deserved.
Once The Slaughter reaches its comical stage, it totally ROX. The humor cracked me up, the undead chasing the kids through the house are awesome, and the gore and gut-munching is splattastic. I don’t know how any lover of trashy horror could get to the end of this film and not have a change of feelings about it.
DEAD DUDES IN THE HOUSE (1989)
Originally titled “The Dead Come Home,” the movie was apparently released as Dead Dudes in the House and given that ridiculous cover art that doesn’t even feature guys from the movie. WTF? Maybe that’s why pretty much no one knows this movie exists.
Dead Dudes in the House is one of my absolute all-time favorites. It’s low-budget perfection and freaky as hell. A bunch of kids goes to clean up a house inhabited by one of the creepiest damn old lady zombie things I’ve ever seen. Granny just roams around the house hunched over with her cane, skulks in dark corners, croaks ominous things at you, then chuckles giddily as she kills the fuck out of you.
This has some funny moments, but it is far from a horror-comedy. It is seriously eerie: the house, the lighting, the atmosphere, Granny. This is how a low-budget horror film should be done. As the film progresses, it follows classic “kids stuck in a demonic house come back from the dead” rules. This was released only a year after Night of the Demons, so it seems great minds thought alike.
I will say the lead dude has a body of death and looks phenomenal in TIGHT-TIGHT 80s jeans, but that’s all I’ll give away. Just watch Dead Dudes in the House. I got my copy on an official DVD in one of those “Toxie’s Triple Terror” boxes – #6, which simply sourced it from a VHS copy. Which I think totally works in its favor. I don’t know that I ever want to see this movie remastered in high definition. It’s perfectly flawed as is.