"Who will survive opening night?
When the movie starts...
...the terror begins!
(back of video blurb): "'Movie House Massacre' is a blood-curdling shocker about the reopening of an old movie house plagued with a history of unexplained tragedies.
Opening night looms ahead and as the days pass danger signs warn of impending doom, but all the warnings are ignored.
Finally the moment of truth descends. Are the patrons screaming at the horror on the screen or in the isles?"
- a ripe snippet of dialogue from a movie showing at one of the Spotlight Theatres
Pee-yoo! I had to throw the windows open wide to try and get rid of the stench this one left. Why will I never learn? There was even a warning- on the box someone had written in biro, "Don't Show", right above the film's title. But no- I just had to see quite how bad this one could be... and now I know.
MOVIE HOUSE MASSACRE is a zero budget feature which was written, produced and directed by the supremely untalented Alice Raley; and presumably acted in by all her friends. You know what it's like when you see someone else's home movies; when you have to sit there and watch complete strangers thinking they're being funny. You know they might've found it hysterical when they were drunk- but you know not even a whole bottle of tequila could raise a ghost of a laugh in you. Well, this movie is just like that- 80 minutes has never seemed so long.
This ill-judged effort is diabolical mish-mash of suspenseless slasher clichés and pratfall humour which is about as funny as a car crash. Only some unintentional laughs could be the only reason I could ever recommend this to another human being; just to see how bad this thing could be was the only conceivable reason why I didn't lurch for the eject button.
The, er.., let's be generous and call it a 'plot', concerns a closed down theatre which has just been taken over by Spot Light Cinema, "Where the popcorn's always poppin'"- a classy chain which specialises in such releases as AMPUTEE HOOKERS and CHAINSAW CHICKS; which plan to open it up as a new addition to their franchise. Mr Murdoch- the slimy, squat manager chooses three of his best employees- Adrian, Malcolm, and Jennifer (a perky blonde poodle-haired cheerleader in her spare time), to get the old place ready for opening night. He and his archly camp assistant (Mary Woronov, wasted in a thankless role) choose not tell them about the theatre's homicidal history; and don't show them a series of slides because "[they] have chalk out-lines on the floor!"... The history they haven't told them about is one we are shown before the opening credits, where the theatre's manager (in some undisclosed time earlier in the century), on closing night, stabs the ticket girl to death- and manages to kill everyone else in the place (quite how he does this is anyone's guess- he first sets light to a reel of film and next thing we know the audience is lying around in a smokeless theatre- motionless!)... Anyway, needless to say, as the three young employees attempts to get the place ready things start to go wrong...
There is no attempt whatsoever to wring any suspense out of this thing. The killer who wanders the cinema is shown from the off- he's presumably meant to be the old manager, but as it's played by a different actor (a really doddery old man) it's hard to tell. People wander into the cinema and get killed- that's about the size of it. This geriatric in a tuxedo waddles up to them and stabs them bloodlessly when they aren't looking- rarely does it get anymore adventurous than that. Yep, the film has no special fx -apart from perhaps the worst decapitation ever committed to celluloid; and maybe half a bottle of ketchup. It is hinted that the murderous ex-manager has some kind of supernatural powers, but that's fluffed unsurprisingly, and what we do see- doors slamming shut and lots of dry ice is hardly going to give Sissy Spacek sleepless nights.
What else is there to say? Well, the score is atrocious- banged out on a Casio organ with all the subtlety of a chimp with a Vincent Price fixation. The cinematography was non-existent. But worst of all has to be the sound effects- one in particular. Somebody thought it'd be hilarious, in the scene where the new employees are briefed, to, every time someone came through a door, accompany it with a 'comedy' whoosh sound. First time I heard it I was incredulous- staring, mouth agape, at the screen. The next time it happened I began to fear the worst, but tried to comfort myself with the thought that not even Alice Raley would attempt to drag this out beyond this one scene. Oh, how wrong I was! That 'comedy' sound effect accompanied every God-darn door opening in the whole frigging movie- and, to make matters even more unbearable, it put in an appearance on occasions when there wasn't even a door in sight!
The only thing that saved the movie- well, 'saved' isn't quite the right word- made it slightly less excruciating is probably a better description- was Ms Rayley's evident belief that she was going to be the next John Waters. Now, I've already said that nearly all the comedy fell flatter than a pan cake, but there were a few laughs to be had. Most of them were gloriously unintentional, but I did get a kick out of the juvenile delinquent ushers, Selena and Darcy. Selena was a cheap, sneering bottle blond who bullied cheerleaders and wiggled around the theatre in gold satin hot pants- causing the manager to remark, "I want to see you in polyester tomorrow!" (the comment kind of sealed my suspicions about Alice Rayley's intentions). Selena actively spent time looking for trouble and, finally whigging out during a trailer for CLOWN WHORES OF HOLLYWOOD, strips off her top and shakes her breasts in Adrian's face- who's there with outraged girlfriend Jennifer. As the other patrons stand up and start to complain, the wayward usher sends popcorn flying. A woman shouts, "Sit down!", to which Selena screams back, "Sit on this bitch!"; and gyrates provocatively in front of the screen shouting at the audience, "I am the next feature!" The whole sorry scene only ends when Mary Woronov slaps her round the face- but amazingly she manages to keep her ushering job!... Darcy, is the slightly quieter dark-haired side kick who's moment of glory comes when her and Selena get re-deployed to the doomed theatre. As they stand in the foyer above them, balanced on the balcony, are a row of pot plants, one of which someone pushes over the edge- just missing them. Darcy spins round and glances up at the motionless foliage, screeching, "Look! There's more of them!"- well it made me laugh; and don't forget I had to take my entertainment where I could find it with this flick.
MOVIE HOUSE MASSACRE eventually limped to a groaner of an ending which made about as much sense as the rest of the movie- i.e. very little. It was pretty understandable that the slasher movie was pretty much dead and buried in 1984 when amateurish trash like this and the, possibly even worse, SPLATTER UNIVERSITY, were choking up the bargain bins (where I found this stinker incidentally). It's too late for me- but you can consider yourselves forewarned!
BODYCOUNT 11 female:8 / male:3
1: Female stabbed to death
2: Cheerleader stabbed to death
3: 2nd Cheerleader stabbed to death
4: Female usher stabbed to death
5: 2nd Female usher stabbed to death
6: Female 'pop-corned' to death (dream sequence!)
7: Female killed (method unseen)
8: Male electrocuted
9: Male decapitated (badly!)
10: Female dies from sliding down a wall- no, really!
11: Male stabbed to death