Also known as The House on Tombstone Hill, Dead Dudes in the House (a bozo title coined by Troma) is a decent little slasher. I have no idea how much Troma had to do with the production, but Lloyd Kaufman did distribute the VHS/DVD. No doubt, it was Kaufman who designed the asinine cover "art." Is that *NSYNC? God, why did I bother with the asterisk? Regardless, those House Party understudies are not actually in the film. And that's the least surprising sentence I've ever typed. The marketing materials want to sell you a carefree horror parody, something in the vein of Idle Hands or Scary Movie. Admittedly, Dead Dudes does have a funny bone, but it's bearded in a fibrous membrane of terror.
You do come here for medical analogies, don't you? For the most part, this flick is played straight. I will cop to being worried at first. The opening fifteen minutes are deplorable. I despised every character, as it seems that their only purpose is to squabble and antipathize with each other. You know what I'm talking about because you've seen this shit before in almost every Friday the 13th sequel. Just fifteen fleeting minutes, and I was already boiling over with malice. Execration! Ignominy! Dead Dudes was shaping up to be an arduous time, but it started calling plays out of the "haunted house" handbook. I went with it.
It had to change up the formula, so it did. The elemental plot is still exceedingly generic. A clique of pals spend a weekend renovating a house that one of them bought at an auction. Maybe this was the cool thing to do in the late 80's? I swear to Mylanta. Anyway, the oxidized homestead appears to be possessed by the spirit of an elderly killer. An old lady, to be exact. She has standard supernatural powers, though we never discover their source. This is such a vague conflict. Oh, her name is Annabelle Leatherbee. That's important, I guess. I know I sound surfeited, but for whatever reason, I watched Dead Dudes to the end. I wanted to see its denouement, so writer/director J. Riffel must have hit a few checkpoints along the way.
Leatherbee is a creepy bitch. Of course, she's impossibly strong, despite moving slower than my grandmother. I realize that's not a particularly romantic juxtaposition, but it's true! The pace is similarly bloodless. Certain scenes are practically extinct, and you can forget, y'know, seeing stuff. I'll bet that Dead Dudes was lit with a pygmy's flambeau. Or a small torch. Either/or. Gore is average, and come to think of it, I don't recall any f-bombs. Was Dead Dudes in the House lensed with a PG-13 rating in mind? This question - and more - will be answered on tonight's episode of Unsolved Mysteries. Man, now THAT was a shit joke.
This is a rainy day rental. Remember those? It's 2015, so I can access any obscure cult classic from the discomfort of my bedroom, and yet, I miss video stores. What's that all about? Humbug.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 11:47 PM