Who could ever forget the laughably inept trailer for tonight's review amongst the coming attractions on Paragon video tapes back at the outset of the eighties? That's where John Wintergate's 1982 shot-on-video feature and I first crossed paths, heading my VHS of Gates of Hell aka/Paura nella città dei morti viventi with a ludicrous coming attraction worth of embarrassing video effects, cheap computer titles, unintentional laughs, and ten cent splatter shoveled up in a way that's been done thousands of times since, but holds special memory, for me at least, and perhaps a sparse handful of others, for being a pioneer in the d.i.y. shot-on-video ass pie sweepstakes, unapologetic in it's delivery of inept lo-fi insanity that defies explanation and begs for position among the greatest/worst movies of its time, somewhere in front of Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo (1984), but well behind Garbage Pail Kids:The Movie(1987), if it were up to me, I tell ya. Thirty years later, magnanimous fellow that I've matured into ( kinda disappointed about that, but at least I'm still pretty hot ), I've decided to give it another look in the spirit of the coming holiday season, for your reading enjoyment. Here we go...
Blackie Lawless appreciates your dedication to metal, sister.
After a disclaimertells us that a black glove in front of some pixelated tv screen and some ominous synth are the signals for the audience to make like Mr. Chicken, and some eighteen hundred dollar 8-bit titles (roughly the cost of the IBM computer to generate them, at the time) over some more synthesizer that sounds like the Knight Rider theme on salvia divinorum, we learn that the Hoffman family, leading experts on the occult and telekinesis, are found mutilated at their sixteenth anniversary party in 1972, leaving behind one child, who's committed to a sanitarium shortly afterwards, having just witnessed a double suicide. Then an old guy does a flopper off of his pool lounger and drowns amid some mean looking wavy video shapes and piped-in screams. A woman ignores some out-of-place wolf howls and loses her arm down the trash compactor, and we're treated to more scrolling computer data about subsequent owners having mysterious strokes and whatnot, until the keys to the infamous Hoffman House are handed to the lone surviving heir, Jim Royce ( Hawk Adly, or director Wintergate, either way, the guy needs to put some friggin' pants on). At the sanitarium, a black gloved hand compels a nurse to strip down to a negligee and hang herself with a pantyhose rope, while orchestrating an orderly pulling his own entrails out. Naturally, Royce moves into his new ten bedroom digs and turns the troubled old place into a boarding house for girls between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five.
"...we've got an accumulation of cheesy low budget 80's video effects down near Upper Darby and the surrounding areas..."
Debbie (Lindsay Freeman) joins a bevvy of airhead babes renting from Jim, and it's not long before mind-controlled ice picks are injuring lovely lodgers, and bathing blondes imagine they've got old pig faces and dead mice in their mouths. The sketchy gardener (also Wintergate) looks like one of the Ramones on a Carbona bender, with a dog chain arm sling, for some unknown reason. There's a hair dryer in the tub electrocution, and a nightmare chase sequence through a graveyard that begins with a half minute of black screen. When Jim isn't cocking down his tenants in the shower (the first time I've seen a chick climax while a fake cat gets the stage blood hammered out of it, I've gotta say), he's teaching them how to harness their own telekinetic powers. There's a party, and one of the dames (named Kalassu, mind you) sings a terrible, un-catchy song with the band out by the pool, while a black dude with a 'fro is willed to shoot his date, then himself. A metalhead chick rips her own eyes out in the kitchen, as Debbie reveals herself as the last Hoffman, which leads to an inevitably underwhelming finale huff and puff brain-off between she, Jim, and his mental understudy/dime piece, on a fog machined up sound stage. Cue up those fancy computer data readouts one more time, Wintergate, 'cuz we're outta here!
Leif Garrett reacts to seeing himself on Solid Gold for the first time...
Personally, I ran a boardinghouse for wayward teenage nymphettes in the eighties and nineties in Northeastern Pa ( and again in the 'oughts in A-Town, against my better judgment ) to the disgruntlement of all my Cherry Street neighbors, who, upon nightly weed smoke exhaust from the bedroom window, accompanied by all manner of devil's racket, and robust chesty young female climaxes amid Nugent's familiar hollow-bodied Byrdland sex-twang, must have been envious, to say the least. My mother never took much to topless tattooed chelsea girls padding into the bathroom in the early hours of the morning in leopard print knicks, but then, they weren't in town for anybody's benefit but my own, can you dig it? Some review sites serve you dirtweed off the brick, but at the Wop, you can always expect nothing but the choicest HG nugs of genre film for discussion and dissection for your mind to groove on. Put that in your bubbler and reef on it. On the scale, Boarding House earns but one wop, with it's out of place sound effects, blaring synth score (that thankfully drowns out much of the non-acting taking place), and aforementioned rotten gore effects. Hell, I even counted a few times where the "warning signals" preceded absolutely nothing at all. Can you believe people are paying fifty bucks a pop for the OOP Code Red dvd on eBay?? Insanity.
An old-pig-face-in-a-shower-cap-with-a-dead-mouse-in-the-mouth looks like the perfect opportunity to take a crack at some fading 80's movie or pop star here, but I'm too high to eff with karma right now, man.