Monday, September 13, 2010

'Dead Dudes in the House' should stay there

Dead Dudes in the House (aka "The Dead Come Home") (1991)
Starring: Mark Zobian and Naomi Kooker
Directors: J. Rifflel and Edgar Lewis
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

A group of 20-something men and women set out to restore a decaying mansion that one of them have bought for an amazingly low price. As they get ready for work, one of them maliciously breaks a tombstone in the backyard, and, in doing so, awakens a pair of malevolent spirits that inhabit the house. What follows is a night of terror as our protagonists are stalked and killed one by one. They don't stay dead for long, though...

"Dead Dudes in the House" is a so-so low-budget effort that's a cross between a slasher flick and a haunted house movie. While I have the sense that the filmmakers never been within three miles of anyone involved with renovating a house, they did create a film that distinguishes itself with having a rare set of horror movie main characters that generally behaved as though they actually had brains in their heads.

As a "killer in the house" slasher movie, "Dead Dudes" works pretty well. The victims even try to keep in a group rather than splitting up! As a ghost film, it is somewhat lacking.

The film never gives us any good reason for WHY the ghosts are bent on killing everyone who enters the house, including a couple of teen boys who get added late in the film. (Okay, so they oogle the ghost of the daughter, but that's hardly a reason since she invites them to do so.) The reason might be "because they're insane"--terrible things did happen to the women who haunt the house--but I'm not sure that reason holds up. In any case, there's no explanation for why their victims reanimate as homicidal killers themselves. (Although... I suppose this means "Dead Dudes" was ahead of its time, because the ghosts in the Japanese and American sequels to "The Grudge" seem to be likewise poorly motivated.)

Maybe I'm just thinking too hard, but I would probably have given this film another Star if it had given me a satisfactory answer to those questions.

(This is one of the movies featured in 150 Movies You Should (Die Before You) See. It's one of better efforts spotlighted in the "Terrible Monster Movies" chapter.

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