House III (The Horror Show) (1989)

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Released 7-Aug-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Trailer-House II; House IV
Menu Animation & Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer-Aurora
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1989
Running Time 90:12 (Case: 95)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor

Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Lance Henriksen
Brion James
James Isaac
Deedee Pfeiffer
Case Click-Double
RPI ? Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     The original House managed to mix what worked out to be a good amount of comedy with a decent - if not that gory – amount of horror. Its sequel went for a lighter approach, dropping its rating to PG, and resulting in a film that lacked a lot of the first film’s charm, and was downright silly at times.. The next in the series, House III: The Horror Show (known to US audiences as only The Horror Show) went for a different approach altogether. All that cheesy humour from the second film went out the window, and in its place was gore, which earned the film an R rating. If this unbalance of tone within the series isn’t enough of a put-off, the fact that neither of those two sequels has anything to do with the first film other that the setting and the zombies should make up your mind.

    Gone are the silly looking zombie/monsters from the first film, and also gone is ‘Gramps’ and the silly looking puppet zombie/monsters from the second. This time around, Detective Lucas McCarthy (Lance Henriksen) and his family reside in the house. Lucas has been pursuing, and finally puts away serial killer Max Jenke (Brion James), who is to be given the chair. In perhaps one of the film’s best, and certainly one the most graphic scenes, Max seems to overpower the ‘chair’, and even manages to get up and walk out of it, to tell Lucas (who is watching the execution) that he will get him for this. After finally dying, Max takes residence in the McCarthy’s basement, and begins to exact revenge on the man that put him away. Sound familiar? That’s because it mimics the plot of Wes Craven’s Shocker which, interestingly, was released the same year as The Horror Show. I don’t know which one was written first, but Shocker was actually released some six months after The Horror Show. Both films are mediocre in my opinion, but Craven’s was definitely more popular.

    Unfortunately, and disappointingly, the serious tone and increased gore in The Horror Show didn’t save the ‘House’ franchise, which is to be expected. Predictable and full of clichés, this quasi-sequel should not have been associated with the first film, as it bears no resemblance other than the house. In fact, this sequel has even less to do with the original film than House II . My only hope for a decent sequel rests with the fourth film now, which looks to be the worst in the series. My fingers are crossed...

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The video transfer for House III (The Horror Show) is not too bad, and it is both better and worse than that of the first two films.

    I was pleasantly surprised to find out that like its prequels, House III (The Horror Show) is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced – not Pan & Scan as advertised.

    Sharpness is not perfect, and is too soft at times - even exhibiting a smoky haze here and there. But to contrast that, a few shots exhibit some nice detail. A bit of a mixed bag actually. Shadow detail and black levels were quite strong, and were a step up from the prequels. Very light grain was present throughout most of the film's running time, which is nothing to worry about.

    Colours were good for the entire film, appearing to be the strongest out of the 'House' series of films so far.

    MPEG artefacts seemed non-existent, and light film artefacts such as dirt, hairs and scratches appeared only occasionally throughout. They never stood out enough to become distracting, and were to be expected due to the age of the print.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio transfer was also very similar to the transfer on the first two discs, in that is is active but badly mixed.

    We are given the choice of watching House III (The Horror Show) with a very loud Dolby Digital 5.1 track or in Dolby Digital 2.0. I predominantly watched the film in 5.1, switching to 2.0 at certain times throughout. I would go with the 5.1 track, as the 2.0 was not quite as clear.

    Dialogue was fairly clear overall, never distorting or becoming unintelligible. The quality of the audio was better than that on first two discs, and the volume levels were not as unbearable. There were no problems with audio sync at all throughout the entire running time.

    The score by Harry Manfredini was actually the best part of the soundtrack, as it was supported nicely by all channels, with some satisfactory low-end. Harry lifted his game a bit for this film, putting in his best work so far within the 'House' series.

    Surround channel usage is where the main problem occurs with the 5.1 mix. The channels are quite active, but it is the actual placement of sound effects that is poorly mixed. Any sound effect, such as footsteps or a door opening, that should only be mixed to the centre and/or front channels is heard coming from all speakers. It appears that every element of the soundtrack, except for dialogue, has been spliced into 5 separate mono tracks. There is no directionality in the surrounds, and it was quite disappointing overall.

    The subwoofer had a bit more work to do for this film, but it was still best used to support the film's score.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Trailer - House 2 (1.19)

    The exact same trailer as on the first two discs. It's weird that this trailer is on all 3 discs so far, but the trailers for the first or third films are nowhere to be found.

Trailer - House 4 (1.45)

    The same trailer as on the first two discs.

Menu Animation & Audio

    The main menu consists of a shot of the house from the film, which is frequently struck by lightning. Rain and thunder supports the animation, with the same eerie sounds and screams from the first film's main menu. The film's title is to the left of the house, in a flashing animated font.

Dolby Digital Trailer - Aurora (0:33)

    One of the more bland Dolby Digital trailers, although it is one of my favourites.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     House III (The Horror Show) is currently unavailable on DVD in Region 1, and a release is not on the horizon, either. Therefore, this Region 4 box set is the way to go for all you 'House' fans out there.

Summary

     House III (The Horror Show) is a pretty bad film, and a terrible sequel. Having next to nothing in common with the original 'House', it would have stood better on its own - as it does in the USA.

    The video transfer is quite good for its age.

    The audio transfer is a bit disappointing, due to a poor surround mix.

    The extra features are identical to the other discs in the box.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Pockett (If you're really bored, you can read my bio...)
Thursday, September 26, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-525, using Component output
DisplayTeac 82cm 16x9. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
Speakers5 Sony speakers; Sherwood 12" 100w Powered Subwoofer

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The Horror Show is edited. - Terry B