House III (1989)
By: J.R. McNamara on November 28, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Force Entertainment (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhnaced). English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0. 90 minutes
The Movie
Director: James Isaac
Starring: Lance Henriksen, Brion James, Rita Taggart, Dedee Pfeiffer
Writer: Alan Smithee, Leslie Bohem
Country: USA
AKA: The Horror Show
The 80s were as interesting time for horror movies. It seemed everytime a film was announced, a copycat film was announced soon after, all the time the writers all claiming that their idea was original. This film, House III, is incredibly derivative of the A Nightmare on Elm Street series, and ironically had its own copycat soon after its release: Shocker, directed by ANOES's Wes Craven.

Initially directed by New Zealand's David Blyth (Death Warmed Up), but eventually finished by Jason X's James Isaac after some unidentified 'difficulties', House III was originally filmed as The Horror Show, but the name was changed for international distribution. The popularity of the House III name forced the owners of the House franchise to called the 'real' third movie in the series 'House 4'.

House III tells of 'Meat Cleaver' Max Jenke (Brion James), a serial killer who has been doggedly persued by tough guy cop Lucas McCarthy (Lance Henrickson) and is eventually captured and executed. On the day of his execution, Jenke informs McCarthy that he is his worst nightmare, and that he intends to return from the grave to destroy his life. After the execution, Professor Peter Campbell (Thom Bray) informs McCarthy that he believes Jenke may be able to transcend his death.

Upon investigation, and many nightmarish visions, McCarthy discovers that Campbell may be right, and that his wife Donna (Rita Taggart), son Scott (Aron Eisenberg...Nog from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) and daughter Bonnie (eternally hot sister of Michelle, Dedee Pfeiffer) may be in serious danger from Jenke.... or is it from within his own psychosis that the danger lies?

Though deritative of Freddy Krueger's series of films, which is unsurprising, considering it was co-written by Leslie Bohem, a scriptwriter for A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, House III holds itself on one particular front: the performances of some of the actors. Lance Henrickson in tortured cop mode is just as twitchy as you would expect him to be, and Brion James excells as Max Jenke, though his chuckle will eventually grate on your nerves. James on many occasions claimed that Jenke was his favorite role!

Unfortunately this film is heavily cut, and even now some of the scenes, like Henrickson exposing his own heart through his split chest, have not been reinserted. Considering some of the horror and violent delights released in the last few years, surely a restoreduncut version is now possible.

By the way, just as a side note, this movie can be used as a drinking game. Every time a male character says they are going to engage in anal sex ('I'll nail your ass to the wall, Jenke' and 'The guys downtown will give it to me up the ass' are two examples), be it giving or receiving, chugalug a'll be drunk as a skunk by the 40 minute mark!!
The picture is a touch grainy but not at all artifact-y, and is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio with 16:9 enhancement.
This film is presented in both Dolby 5.1 Surround (with an option for Dolby Stereo) and sounds great.
Extra Features
Nothing other than trailers for House 2 and House 4.
The Verdict
This is a film I loved as a twenty something, but now is transparently a copy of Freddy's hype. Worth watching for Brion James' performance as Jenke, but I would have been more impressed with a restored version.
Movie Score
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