HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The House Where Evil Dwells/Ghost Warrior
HTS Overall Score:64
WARNING: THE SCORES ABOVE ARE A COMBINED SCORE FROM BOTH FILMS, THE INDIVIDUAL SCORES ARE CONTAINED BELOW IN THE INDIVIDUAL SECTIONS OF THE REVIEW
SCREAM! Factory is back with another double feature to enjoy, this time with a decidedly Japanese flair to them. The Japanese have had a sort of twisted grasp on horror since long before I was born, so I was more than willing to give the horrific duo a chance, and was actually quite surprised to find out “Ghost Warrior” was about as far away from a horror film as one could get. “The House Where Evil Dwells” had the suspense and terror that I was expecting, so that at least was exactly what I was expecting. Neither of the two films is what I would consider high art, even among horror and Japanese martial arts/Samurai fodder, but they are two films that I honestly don’t see being released again. At least not on this format.
The House Where Evil Dwells :2.5stars:
Ghost stories are nothing new to the horror genre, and Japanese ghost stories are about as old a sub-genre as one can get. Introduce in an unknowing American family who has no idea that the house they are in is haunted and you can already guess the rest. Our film opens up in the 1840’s, as a Japanese man comes home to catch his wife and their love in bed. Going a bit crazy, the warrior slaughters both of them mercilessly and then takes his own life via Harakiri. Fast forward to the good old 1980s, where we have giant mullets, Tom Sellick mustaches and clothes that should never be brought out of the closet, EVER! Writer Ted Fletcher (Edward Albert) has just moved to Japan with his wife, Laura (Susan George) and their daughter, Amy (Amy Barrett) to finish a story about Japanese culture. Everything seems to be going fine at first, but their friend Alex (Doug McClure) seems to have gotten them a haunted house. However, don’t worry, because modern ghosts are friendly ghosts according to Ted (yes, that line is actually uttered). So off they go to their dream house, only to have some strange things start happening. Furniture moves, the wind blows things off the table in strange ways, you know, the normal ghostly ways of getting newcomers to leave.
When the Fletchers won’t leave, the three spirits of the dead Japanese people are forced to take more drastic measures. Inhabiting the bodies of the family they wreak havoc by forcing their hosts to do strange and unnatural things to their normal easy going personalities. Ted is more vicious, and cruel than he normally is, while Laura is taken over by the adulteress wife and soon takes up her own extra marital affair with Alex. This sets off a chain of events that proves the age old adage of what comes around goes around as the couple starts to imitate the very same circle of events that was started over 100 years ago.
“The House Where Evil Dwells” starts out as a traditional ghost story, but gets real weird really fast. I mean, where else can you see giant crabs chasing the young daughter around till she falls out of a tree trying to escape them? The ghosts are just plain goofy as well. They make faces in water, and make spooky noises trying to get the people to leave, but never really DO anything that frightening. The only really creepy part is near the end where the trio of ghosts inhabits the bodies of the Fletchers and Alex for one final showdown to imitate the incident which started this all. Not to mention the fact that there are whole side stories that go nowhere, such as the adulteress from the beginning going to get the charm from the old witch. It mentions it happening, but the plot seems to really just fade into the background leaving you scratching your head. It’s a fun little horror movie, but sadly one that has far too many flaws to be a bonafide classic.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=61993[/img]Ghost Warrior :2.5stars:
“Ghost Warrior” is a bit of a different take on Japanese culture. Following up the horror flick that was the first half of this double feature, it is instead a modern “fish out of water” tale where the old Japanese Samurai warrior is transported to modern times, where he has to figure out what’s going on. Simple story, and really is a simple tale. Originally titled “Swordkill” (very inventive name there), “Ghost Warrior opens up in the 1500’s, where a Samurai warrior named Yoshimitsu (Hiroshi Fujioka) watches as his wife is murdered by a rival clan and he is sent into the icy river with an arrow sticking out of his gut. Years later, in the 1980s, he is found by a group of hikers and transported to a medical lab run by Dr. Alan Richards (John Calvin). Hiring the skills of Japanese historian Chris Welles (Janet Julian), Dr. Richards reanimates the frozen corpse so that they can study him.
Stuck in modern times, Yoshimitsu is more than a bit confused and wary of the new century. Playing a game of tug of war (culturally speaking), Yoshi and Chris start to make some progress, but a greedy custodian ends up killed by the samurai’s blade when he attempts to steal it to pawn. Now out and alone in the big city, Yoshi has to learn how to survive as he’s chased by local gangs, and soon enough the entire police force as he metes out old fashioned justice in a modern world. Desperate to get the situation under control, Chris and Dr. Richards do their best to capture Yoshi alive, but soon it becomes clear to Chris that Dr. Richards has his own less than stellar motives behind that clinical face. Now Chris is Yoshi’s last hope to stay alive, or at the very least end with honor.
“Ghost Warrior” is a fairly silly film by modern standards, and actually was a rather fluff piece back in the 1980s. It’s goofy and doesn’t really have a firm take on the old Samurai customs, which comes off as very cheesy at times. I still had a lot of fun with the short hour and 21 minute film, but it just didn’t really go anyplace new or even explore the old tropes very well. It just unfolds that Yoshi is in a big city and his has one night to re do the same scenario that ended his life some 400+ years ago.
Rated R by the MPAA / Rated R by the MPAA
The House Where Evil Dwells :3.5stars:
“The House Where Evil Dwells” is a semi decent looking transfer, but suffers from a beat up looking print that shows plenty of speckling and dirt splattered across the screen at times. There is no major artifacting beside the standard macroblocking, but it’s still a rather mediocre looking transfer. There are moments of brilliance, as you can see every pore on Ted’s face in some close ups, but overall the transfer is a bit muted and the colors seem to be a bit dull and worn. Fine detail is soft and the blacks have some crush and greying out to round out the trifecta. Its’ a semi decent transfer, but one that most certainly hasn’t really been cleaned up very much.
Ghost Warrior :3.5stars:
“Ghost Warrior” is given a fairly standard encode by SCREAM! Factory standards. The image doesn’t look to be molested by too much digital manipulation, but it IS a fairly old and dirty looking print. There is plenty of speckling and lines across the screen during the short film, and I noticed some smudging and dirt on the print that has probably been on there for decades. The blacks are a bit murky and the fine detail is a tad bit grungy at times, especially during the flashback sequences where Yoshi is back in ancient Japan. When he gets to modern times the movie clears up a lot, but still there isn’t a lot of fine detail to be seen.
The House Where Evil Dwells :3.5stars:
Much like the video transfer, “The House Where Evil Dwells” is given a rather middle of the road encoding in DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono. The dialog is certainly understandable and doesn’t carry with it many major flaws, but there is a mild hiss and crackle that comes and goes as the film progresses. The front sound stage is where a majority of the work comes. I couldn’t find much LFE baked into the mains, as it is a fairly higher frequency stacked film, but I did hear a thumb here and there. No surround usage is pretty standard for a 2.0 film, but I did notice a few times with the ghosts wailing where the directionality of the track comes to life.
Ghost Warriors :3.5stars:
“Ghost Warriors” has about the same experience as “The House Where Evil Dwells”. There’s even more hissing and popping to the track, but it also has better vocal support, which gives it a slight edger there. The highs sometimes feel a bit boxy and constrained, but the front sound stage is fairly active with swords clashing and the roar of the big city to confuse the poor samurai. There’s minimal LFE, but it is present, and the engines of the gang motorcycles throb with some much needed power and the gunshots have some fairly hefty oomph to them.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=62017[/img]The House Where Evil Dwells
• Theatrical Trailer
• Theatrical Trailer
This double feature is a bit of an odd mixture, with the transient thread running through them both being the obvious Japanese culture that is imbued in them. “The House Where Evil Dwells” is more like most of SCREAM! Factory’s regular horror fare, while “Ghost Warrior” seems to be an odd fit for them. Both of them certainly fit in the niche that SCREAM! Fills, though, and that is the sort of films that just aren’t released by the major studios. In that they excel in spades, and while neither film in the double feature is a classic, or great film, they make for some fun and entertainingly cheesy nights. Recommended as a rental
Starring: Hiroshi Fujioka, John Calvin, Janet Julian
Directed by: Kevin Connor : J. Larry Carroll
Written by: Robert Suhosky (Screenplay), James Hardiman (Novel) : Tim Curnen
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC / 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English DTS-HD MA Mono/Stereo
Studio: SCREAM! Factory
Runtime: 88 minutes : 81 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: January 5th, 2016
Buy The House Where Evil Dwells/Ghost Warrior Blu-ray on Amazon
More about Mike