Open House (1987)

FEBRUARY 8, 2011


Congrats, Open House! You’re the 100th movie I deem “Crap”! Though looking at the first year, I was a bit harsh on some of the films; movies like Nightmares, Dracula II, They, etc are bad, but I was so naïve then to think those were the lowest of the low. I can only pray that 3-4 years from now, I’m not looking back at Open House and expressing that sort of sentiment – I would really hate to see so many bad movies in the future that this would actually start to look marginally decent.

The main problem with this film is that director Jag Mundhra seemingly didn’t know what the hell he was doing and/or didn’t bother sitting with his editor at any point. Not only is the movie sinfully boring, but there are at least three shots during separate kill scenes that go on for so long, I began to wonder if the Netflix stream had frozen. At one point a woman is hung, and we don’t really see her murder, but we watch a 36 second shot of her just hanging there. Now, 36 seconds may not sound like a long time, but when you’re watching it, it feels like an eternity. There’s also a bit at the beginning where a woman finds a corpse and screams for a minute or so. Does this alert the killer to her presence? Nope, she just keeps screaming and shaking her head, and then finally, the scene ends.

And that’s the other problem – Mundhra apparently couldn’t decide what kind of movie he was making. This scene (which occurs in the first few minutes) is borderline campy fun, but it’s pretty much the only moment in the film that can be described as such until the very end, which is on a whole new level of ridiculousness as the killer falls over a railing after being shot in the forehead, then gets back up (brain matter all over the ground), only to be felled by a cop kicking him in the balls, which sends him flying over ANOTHER railing, and finally dying despite the 2nd fall not being as far.

But in between these are scenes that border on Skinemax erotic thriller (indeed, Mundhra has helmed a number of such films, including the Andrew Stevens “classic” Night Eyes), and then sometimes we’re in pure slasher movie territory, and then the rest of the time it’s just a plain dull movie about real estate. Longtime readers know my “affinity” for real estate horror (this is actually the 2nd Open House!), but this one doesn’t use it as a backdrop – it’s practically a drama about the cutthroat real estate world; Glengarry Glen Ross by way of crappy cable thrillers. I couldn’t even understand what exactly was causing tension between some of the realtors, because I couldn’t follow their jargon. Their stuff is also awkwardly mixed with scenes of a radio call in host (main realtor Adrienne Barbeau’s boyfriend), who takes phone calls from the killer after he strikes. So if real estate intrigue isn’t your thing, don’t worry – Open House has got you covered via long scenes of people screening listener calls, typing on the request computer, and installing phone taps.

This film also features the flat out ugliest goddamn man I’ve ever seen in my life. I don’t want to be mean, but Jesus Christ is he unpleasant to look at. Luckily he’s supposed to be an unpleasant man, a rival realtor (yes, this movie has RIVAL REALTORS) named Barney Resnick who slobbers about, says terrible things like “Your ass is negotiable” to pretty young realtors, and dies taking a piss. And he has more screen time than the killer, who is almost as hideous, but that makes sense because he’s a homeless man, not a guy that’s supposed to be charming as he suckers you into buying a split level in Valley Village that’s located under a flight path.

Oh, yeah, the homeless killer. A few years ago I wrote a list for B-D about the stupidest killer motives ever, and had I seen Open House then it would have made the list. Our guy is killing because the realtors priced the houses too high, but also because they sold the house he was squatting in and thus made him homeless again. I fail to see how killing a few realtors would really resolve his issue – it’s not like they would start lowering prices because the competition was dead. Also not sure why he calls the radio show, but I had long since stopped caring about anything that happened in the movie by the time he was revealed anyway.

There was one bit I liked, but only due to what I watched the other day. At one point a little cuddly kitten begins meowing and circling around the killer. Having just suffered through The Roommate (the worst movie I had seen this month until this piece of shit came along), I feared that I’d be witness to another caticide. But the killer tickles the little furball for a bit and then lets him go. Good call, movie – you prevented me from inventing a whole new category for movies I abhor.

I should also probably talk about Barbeau a bit, because someone will bitch if I don’t. She has a brief nude scene, so that’s good, but she’s not in the movie enough to warrant the viewing – you can see her nude in other, better movies, and she doesn’t really get any good lines or do anything badass. Hell she doesn’t even figure much into the finale – spending most of it tied up (in the damsel in distress way, not the S&M way). Her role stinks of “We have her for 5 days of this 30 day shoot!”, in fact – her scenes are sort of disconnected from the rest of the film, and disappears for large chunks at a time (she only appears once in the first 25 minutes or so). Sort of like Neve in Scream 3, and even THAT movie is something I wished I was watching instead.

Odd trivia – the screenwriter went on to write/direct/narrate The Sandlot, which I remember as being a pretty charming movie. What the hell, man? Where was that talent on THIS goddamn thing?

What say you?

1 comment:

  1. not the worst but definitely one of the worst slashers from the 80s.


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