AUGUST 14 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : BOARDING HOUSE
There is nothing you can do to prepare yourself for what you are about to see. The video journey you're set to embark upon is like nothing you have ever experienced. You, dear viewer, are about to take one hell of a trip.
And it all starts with a few words of caution ...
"Ladies and gentleman, this is a warning. To protect theatre owners and the makers of this Horror Vision film, viewers with nerve or heart conditions are advised to cover their eyes and ears whenever this object appears on the screen ..."
Somewhere between the absurd and the enjoyable, the bad and the funny, Amityville and the Playboy Mansion, lies a little shot on video flick called Boarding House, which for safety's sake was filmed in Horror Vision. What's that, you ask?
You see that warning above? The image of the black glove? That's Horror Vision, baby! A visual and sometimes musical cue to let you know that blood is about to start flying! After all, nothing quite says you'd better brace yourself more than a black glove against rainbow-like swirls of color. Now that's what I call terrifying!
After the William Castle type theatrics are over, we're treated to what can only be described as a bad video special effect possessing people who occupy a huge home long enough so that they kill themselves in sometimes ultra-violent ways. Events like this happen again and again at this house until finally it's closed down for good.
That is, until it's willed to Jim Royce (Wintergate as Hawk Adly). Jim ends up being the proud owner of the old deadly digs and decides to reopen the pad as a sweet and swinging boarding house. This leads to numerous men and women in bikinis splashing each other in the pool, a heaving helping of nudity, hair so bad you can almost smell the hairspray, really bad outfits, live music, lots of hallucinations, ludicrously bad acting, weird fits of heavy breathing, and of course Horror Vision warned splatteriffic mayhem.
Suffice it to say Boarding House is one of the absolute strangest movies I've ever seen, and as a result it has become a long-lost favorite of mine. Thank the video gods! It's lost no more! Now that the DVD is out, an explanation for its weirdness has finally come to light. Boarding House was filmed as a horror comedy. Prior to distribution, however, the people whom the filmmakers signed with said that the movie needed to be edited as a serious horror film or else it would never fly. Imagine that, if you will. I'd be like filming Airplane! and having it cut into Rosemary's Baby. I finally understand the film's quirkiness. Of course, that could all be bullshit and Wintergate and company could have just simply made one of the most mind-numbingly bad and unintentionally funny flicks ever. Either way, we win.
Even more perplexing? This edition of the movie is the only official home video release ever. Yes, we all remember the Paragon Video VHS tape that populated video stores everywhere way back when. Even that was near black market. All of this madness is explained away in the DVD special features contained herein. Speaking of which ...
While not exactly a mother lode of supplemental material, what's included here does a competent job of bringing everything full circle. The mayhem kicks off with a great commentary by John Wintergate and star Kalassu (yep that's her name -- just Kalassu), which is moderated by Boarding House historians(!) Lee Christian and Jeff McCay. This is just nothing short of chicken fried gold, folks! If you thought the film was odd to begin with, get ready for the word oddity to take on a whole new meaning when listening to this alternate track. Wow! Then there's the goldmine -- a nearly fifteen-minute interview with Wintergate (who did just about everything under the sun on this feature) and Kalassu. Why is this such the treasure trove? Because in addition to sharing some stories, this is where the duo officially announce that Boarding House 2 is on the way! Another chapter? I cannot even begin to wrap my brain around what they have wrought. We wait with baited breath!
Even after all these years this flick stands proud upon its obscure mountain of entertaining awfulness. Boarding House may not be for everyone. Hell, it may not be for anyone at all, but if you're willing to take the trip, break out the brews, call up your friends, and strap in for one of the most bizarre cinematic misadventures you're ever likely to see!
Just make sure you heed the warnings of Horror Vision! We here at Dread Central pray for your well being.
- Audio commentary by John Wintergate, Kalassu, Lee Christian, and Jeff McCay
- Introduction by John Wintergate
- Interviews with John Wintergate and Kalassu