Humphrey Humbert's at it again, this time using the same Massachusetts funeral home location that Lucio Fulci utilized seven years earlier with his own Quella villa accanto al cimitero aka/ House by the Cemetery (1981). Just to clarify, by Humphrey Humbert, we mean Hank Milestone / Humphrey Longan / Humphrey Milestone / Harry Kirkpatrick / Bob Collins himself. Umberto Lenzi has got more aliases than the Manson women, eh? When he wasn't condemning innocent animals to violent, on camera, snuff-death in his wildly controversial cannibal movies, Lenzi often took on projects like tonight's review, a mess as unlikely as it is incoherent. Let's have a look...
"I'll remove your vocal chords for food, " offers Dr. Butcher (Donald O'Brien).
While young Henrietta (Kristen Fougerousse) is on dark, creepy cellar-timeout for scissoring the family feline, her father takes a mystery scalp axing and mother gets knife necked upstairs, and Henrietta's disturbing, nursery rhyme whispering Jester doll may or may not have had a hand in it. Fast forward twenty years, where Martha's (Lara Wendell) data programming, ham radio enthusiast boyfriend, Paul (Greg Scott), receives a spooky transmission complete with nursery rhymes, cries for help, and screams. Naturally, this translates into the couple driving out to the source of the broadcast (with Martha getting five beans ganked by a black ghost-ophile hitchhiker along the way, I might add), where another ham radio user (I don't remember this being a terribly popular phenomenon in the late eighties, maybe I'm just ignorant?) has pitched camp at the brightly lit spook-house with his brother, sister, and brother's girlfriend in tow, against the warnings of grizzled psycho caretaker, Valkos (Donald O'Brien). Valkos doesn't 'warn', so much as physically attack the unwanted guests with a butcher cleaver, but who's keeping score at this point?
Throat lozenges and Visine probably won't rectify this situation.
Sure enough, Paul's kooky tape recording happen to be the voices of fellow citizen's band champion, Jim, and his young sister, who kinda looks like teenaged Jim Carrey in drag while under duress when the family camper springs to life, knocking her ass over tit. Wouldn't you know it, Henrietta's ghost makes the scene, and that's when unplugged metal ceiling fan blades are mostly likely to cut a body's throat, along with your obligatory hammer kills, body bifurcations, pitchfork impalings, disappearing Dobermans, expanding, exploding glass shards all about the place, water taps pouring blood, echo chamber laughter, and even the Grim Reaper makes a cameo before the end credits. There's also the matter of that otherworldly Jester doll, and his nursery rhyme, inaudible to untrained ears, but to a professional drum such as mine, the song's whispered message is pretty clear: Watch something else...watch something else.
The Grim Reaper got a hunnert problems, but cuttin' a mothafucka ain't one of 'em.
Lenzi followed this one up with three efforts, House of Witchcraft (made-for-tv), Le porte dell'inferno aka/ Hell's Gate, and Paura nel buio aka/ Hitcher in the Dark, the following year. Wendel has appeared in genre fare such as Mio caro assassino (1972), Il profumo della signora in nero (1974), Un'ombra nell'ombra (1979), and even Tenebre (1982). Scott also showed up in Fatal Attraction (1987) and Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (1987). It should also be noted that no less than the late, great Aristide Massaccesi, Joe D'Amato himself, was an uncredited producer on this one. Wrapping it up, shitty acting, a mundane script, and mostly over lit, under dressed frames not to mention Lenzi's production line attitude towards this sort of thing by this time, force me to lay the single woppo upon it. He'd done worse, but also a lot better in and out of the genre, over the years.
"Get your mock scepter outta my frenulum of labia minora!"