Boardinghouse (1982)
By: Devon B. on March 25, 2009  | 
Code Red (USA). All Regions, NTSC 4:3. English DD 2.0. 100 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: John Wintergate
Starring: Hawk Adly, Kalassu Kay, Alexandra Day, Joel McGinnis Riordan
Screenplay: John Wintergate
Country: USA
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Boardinghouse was probably my introduction to the concept of so-bad-it's-good cinema. The trailer was on some video I'd hired, and it made me laugh and laugh and laugh. I showed my father, who didn't laugh. Some people just have no sense of humour. Of course I wanted to see Boardinghouse after the spectacle of the trailer, but it was as scarce as clever dialogue in Two and a Half Men. I did find one store that had it, but they had a policy where you had to put down a security deposit on rare tapes, and the deposit on Boardinghouse was a few hundred dollars. So, when I got this DVD release, it marked the end of a long wait.

Before the film is an intro by the director and star, with him recreating some of his performance. The movie begins by letting the viewer know there will be a sonic or visual warning before anything too scary happens, then segues into tacky credits. I was pretty happy at this point. Then someone begins reading from a case file about a possibly haunted house to get the viewer up to speed. The main story is a telekinetic guy has inherited this house, and since it's quite large he decides to rent rooms out cheap to young ladies. He gets a good response, and has a handful of women living with him pretty quickly. Once they've all moved in, cheap hokum ensues.

Something I was unaware of when I started Boardinghouse was that it was meant to be a satire, making fun of low budget horror movies with bad acting. Before its release, the distributor insisted the jokey film be recut as a serious horror piece, and the end result is pretty weird, because some of the jokes, like the aforementioned warning, were left in. Things like a pantyhose hanging, a psycho lookin' groundskeeper, a hilarious electrocution effect, the atrocious acting, clearly visible stagehands moving objects, and video zooms were all there to make the audience laugh. By far the best gag is the bizarre noise the giallo gloved killer makes while confronting people: "*sniff*haha."

Boardinghouse didn't really survive the cuts, though, with sledgehammer editing making things confusing. Where there may have originally been more jokes, now the film wanes and is padded, and the padding includes that staple of shot on video horror: a car driving around. To be fair, Boardinghouse was probably the first SOV to do this, but I still fuckin' hate it.

One thing Boardinghouse does have going for it is a fair bit of nudity, which unfortunately is also hampered and made less clear by the editing. The skimpy outfits and bare flesh help keep one interested, but once the nudity slowed, my interest faded. I would be interested in checking out a director's cut, but this version is really more of a curio.

The film doesn't surpass Breeders for boobs and low rent blood, but fans of no budget wonders with ample skin should take a look.
Boardinghouse is an SOV, so is presented full frame. There are some video lines at the bottom of the screen in some scenes, some VHS lines, and some of the lighting makes scenes over or under bright. Overall, the print doesn't look too bad considering the source material.
An English 2.0 stereo track is provided. There is some slight distortion, and some dialogue can be hard to hear. The mix is a bit weird, with some sounds coming out of different bits of the room, like a background radio was only heard to my right, making it sound like it wasn't part of the movie at all. I'm not sure if this is a flaw in the original audio, but that seems unlikely and this mix is annoying whenever this happens, which thankfully isn't that much. There's also a bit of crackle on the commentary track.
Extra Features
The DVD comes with both the teaser and the longer trailer, and you can watch this and see the scene that made me think I HAD to see the movie. There're also trailers for Soul Survivor, Nightmare, Can I Do It Till I Need Glasses?, The Dead Pit, and The Chilling. There's also a commentary and a 13 min interview. The interview is with writers/directors/stars Johnn Wintergate and Kalassu, where they explain some of that stuff I was laughing at was intentionally funny. In the tradition of Boardinghouse's erratic cinematography, someone hits the camera while filming the interview. The commentary features Wintergate and Kalassu as well as film historians Lee Christian and Jeff McKay and the would-be stars of Boardinghouse 2, one of whom has a cameo in the original. Some info repeats here, but the commentary is worth listening to as well. Some of their claims, like that Texas Chain Saw Massacre isn't funny and is more violent than Boardinghouse, are dubious, but they do say some things of interest, including the fact that all previous releases were essentially bootlegs. It's discussed how much money they lost out on because the video was everywhere, but I refute that.
The Verdict
While I'm glad I finally got to see Boardinghouse, it wasn't really worth the 15 year wait. I hope that the director's cut does materialise, but don't know that my interest will hold for another 15 years. The film has some good stuff, and can be very funny, and perhaps it's testimony to the skills of those involved that I couldn't even tell they were in on the joke.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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