Derek is ex military working as a chauffeur for a mob boss. He quickly gets on the wrong side of both the law and said mob boss. Sleeping with the wife of your employer does tend to make them angry. Things only get worse when the prison where he serves his sentence is chosen by a rogue agent to do unauthorized experiments turning the inmates into raging monsters.
Death House is now probably more enjoyable than the year it was released. Like a fine wine that gained quality through aging. But instead of a fine wine it was cheap headache inducing wine and the movie hasn't really improved but the appreciation for eighties shlock has grown.
Death House was directed by actor John Saxon. It's his only directorial effort. After seeing Death House one could claim to know the reason for this being his only credit as a director. But he didn't write the movie and a lot of the problems the movie has stems from a truly awful script.
IMDB has four people with writing credits for the movie. And that's easy to believe it looks like all four wrote a distinctly different movie and combined them into one messed up plot. It also combines genres which isn't a sin in itself. But the movie also appears to have every cliché that specific genre had to offer. So don't expect any big surprises.
John Saxon doesn't only direct the movie he also plays the villain. He should have played the lead too because leading man Derek Keillor isn't really up to the task. The two female protagonists, although one an accomplished actor and singer and one with only three credits to her name, both look like they just walked off a penthouse photo shoot. Ron'O Neal is totally wasted as Tom Boyle the motel manager. Saxon aside the best character is the mob boss played by Anthony Franciosa.
The movie clearly has a shoestring budget but features some nice practical effects. And a few surprising tidbits of gore. It's these bits, and the eighties shlock value and a dash of exploitation (aka nudity) that makes Death House entertaining often despite itself.
The only available release is a DVD under the title Zombie Death House a misleading title as the movie doesn't have any zombies. The print is full screen but decent for a DVD release of a late eighties low budget effort. I wouldn't say I'd jump at the chance to own Death House on Blu-ray but I'd prefer to own this movie to upgrading, a movie I already own, to 4K or yet another steel book release. The John Saxon credit should be enough to garner enough attention from genre fans. Death House looks like a movie that fit well in the Vinegar Syndrome catalog.
Larry Cohen might not have cast Moriarty as often Hitchcock did James Stewart or Kurosawa did Mifuno. But they did some of their best work together. The Stuff might not be Cohens' best film but Moriarty certainly is firing on all cylinders.
Cohen tries to put in a bit of suspense in a movie about killer yogurt. But it's hard to make yogurt very threatening. Though he might have succeeded if not for the special effects. The practical effects the prosthetic heads and so on are all great. But some effects which appear to be computer generated are abysmal. It gives the movie a cheesy quality but destroys any chance of suspense.
The Stuff might be low on thrills but there's plenty laugh with or at least make one crack a smile. There are some funny situations and plenty of interesting characters.
There's a message in there too about consumerism and advertising that's still relevant today. But that shouldn't spoil the fun.
Every time I watch The Stuff I just want Mo. The Arrow films Blu-ray release is an excellent way to discover this horror comedy.
Item added : 6/5/2019