Houseboat Horror (1989)
By: J.R. McNamara on August 13, 2014 | Comments
Video Man Entertainment | All Regions, NTSC | 4:3 | English DD 2.0 | 81 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Directors: Kendal Flanagan, Ollie Martin
Starring: Alan Dale, John Michael Howson, Craig Alexander, Louise Siversen, Gavin Wood
Screenplay: Ollie Martin
Country: Australia
Before I really got into films, I don't think I appreciated Australian films properly. I mean, I didn't even realise that Nightmares was an Australian film until I saw Not Quite Hollywood, and since seeing that documentary, I have actively sought out the so-called 'Ozploitation' films.

But even then, somehow, this little chestnut passed me by until recently.

I was born in the late 60s, which means I was a teen in the 80s, and that decade meant a lot to me: the music, the movies, the TV shows… and this film, Houseboat Horror, perfectly demonstrates just how dreadful all those things were.

Houseboat Horror was written by Ollie Martin and co-directed by himself and Kendell Flannigan, known primarily in Australia for directing episodes of Prisoner, Col'n Carpenter, All Together Now, Neighbours and other Australian TV shows, and this TV pedigree shows in the quality of the film. Basically, its entire premise is stolen from every wilderness slasher pre-1989, right down to the wronged, deformed murderer!

Houseboat Horror tells of a film crew and band taking a bunch of houseboats to a remote location to film what turns out to be the worst music clip ever, with the worst music ever. Thankfully… I mean unfortunately, there is a killer in the woods, one who was burnt during an accident from another group of filmmakers, and who wants them all dead!

Fans of TV of the 80s will get a real treat out of this flick: Neighbours' Alan Dale (who admittedly has made a bit of a career in Hollywood in films like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo remake and a Star Trek film), Countdown's Gavin Wood, Hey! Hey! It's Saturday's Animal, Prisoner's Louise Siverson… the list just goes on. And it's also worth without mentioning John Michael Howson playing… well, himself! The funny thing is, there is no real 'hero' in this film, as all the characters are such malignant arseholes, you just can't wait to see them dead.

Special mention really does need to go to the music soundtrack. In the eighties, we had the band Uncanny X-men (incredibly different from the one seen in the comics/movies). This was a post New Wave pop band who had a couple of hits, but whose frontman, Brian Mannix, became bigger than the band, possibly by chance and or his tenacity,. Or maybe popularity was just his mutant power, I'm not sure. Anyhow, he provided the music for this film, and his participation is declared on the cover with the bold text "with KNOCKOUT BRIAN MANNIX song hits". The cover lies, and the music is just terrible. Again, I am not sure if that is by accident or by design.

The dialogue is nothing short of spectacular, full of so many Australianisms that by the end of it you'll be finding reasons to use the fantastic cultural gem "bar up", and the lines are delivered by people who are completely unconscious of there being a generic accent that can be used to sell a film overseas. If you want to torture a New Zealander, tie him down and force him to watch this!

This really plays to all the strengths of films that I love: 80s, slasher, and wilderness. Most importantly however, it's BAAAAAAAAD! I honestly loved every terrible second of it!
The Disc
The quality is… well, piss-poor. Remember watching a VHS recording of that episode of Number 96 with Abigail's tits in it that your older brother's mate copied for you from a dub he had been given by his cousin from Murrumbidgee? Well, it's like that, in VHS friendly 4:3 and with good old fashioned crackly 2.0 stereo sound.

Unfortunately the only special feature is that the movie exists at all.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
With tension about as tight as a badly set spiral perm, this outrageously atrocious example of filmmaking, fine coated in strine, is a blast from the past for fans of bad 80s films. Houseboat Horror is a must see for the Australian film fan.

Shame about the lack of extras, especially considering half of these actors and 'musicians' must be starving from lack of attention.
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