The popularity of the DVD medium has been a boon to many, but none moreso than fans of obscure European horror films. Many titles which had previously been (legally) unavailable in the U.S. have found their way onto DVD. One director whose catalog has gotten a great deal of attention in recent years is Italian horror-legend Lucio Fulci. While many have seen films such as "Zombie" or "The Beyond", many of Fulci's lesser-known films can now be seen on DVD. A recent example is Media Blaster's release of "The House of Clocks".
The setting of "The House of Clocks" is true to the film's title, as the story is set in a mansion that is filled with clocks, watches, and many unique time-pieces. Therein lives an elderly couple, Vittorio and Sara Corsini (Paolo Paoloni & Bettina Milne). It doesn't take long for the audience to realize that this isn't an ordinary old couple, as they are cruel to animals, murder their servants, and keep a pair of corpses hidden in a secret room. All the time, they act as if everything is perfectly normal.
Into this odd setting comes three pot-smoking thugs -- Tony (Kieth Van Hoven), Sandra (Karina Huff), and Paul (Peter Hintz). They perform a "home invasion", intent on robbing the old couple. But, the robbers soon become ensnared in a bizarre trap, as the clocks in the house begin to run backwards, unleashing a deadly supernatural force.
"The House of Clocks" was originally made for an Italian TV series entitled "House of Doom", but it was deemed to violent to be aired. That fact is the only interesting thing about "The House of Clocks". Fulci has never been accused of making fast-paced films, but this one is incredibly slow. It takes quite some time for the robbers to reach the house, and even then, the supernatural elements don't arrive until Chapter 8. There is some violence in the film, but it is limited to stabbing and gunshot wounds -- nothing that we haven't seen in other movies. Actually, I found the amount of animal abuse in the film to be much more disturbing than any of the human violence.
Along with their slow pacing, Fulic films have never been stellar examples of coherent, logical storylines, and "The House of Clocks" fits that description as well. We are dropped into this story involving the Corsini's, but we aren't given any background info on them. The same goes for the robbers. And when the supernatural elements kick in, no explanation is offered there. One can make the assumption that Vittorio so loved his clocks, that they began running backwards to save him (?!), but it would have been nice if the movie could have expounded on this. And what about the hidden corpses. We're told some about them, but not enough. And as for the ending, well let me say this -- it's supposed to be shocking, but I was laughing out loud.
During his long career, Lucio Fulci certainly made some films that would appeal to a wide audience. "The House of Clocks" isn't one of those films. The film's attempt to blend horror with a science-fiction tone is admirable, but the movie just doesn't work. This one is for Fulic completists only.
"The House of Clocks" is presented on this DVD in an anamorphic widescreen presentatiomn, and has been letterboxed at roughly 1.85:1. The image is very soft, with each shot sporting a great deal of halos -- most notably around any light source. For the most part, the colors are good, but they are slightly washed-out in some scenes. The image shows little grain, and there aren't many defects from the source print. Given the film's low-budget backround, this transfer renders it quite watchable, but the soft look will be distracting to many.
The audio on this DVD is a Dolby Digital 2-channel mono track. This track provides clear dialogue, with virtually no hissing. (Which is unusual.) There is no distortion on this track and the music and effects are well-balanced. Of course, the dubbing is horrible, but that's not a reflection of the audio track found on this disc.
This DVD contains a few extras. There are two interviews, one with star Paolo Paoloni (5 minutes) and another with co-star Carla Cassola (10 minutes), who plays Maria, the maid. In these interviews (which are thankfully conducted in English), the two actors discuss the making of the film, and more importantly, there memories of Fulci's antics on the set. The disc also contains the original trailer for "The House of Clocks", as well as bonus trailer for four other Media Blasters' titles.
Even the most patient Euro-horror fan will most likely find "The House of Clocks" to be pretty boring. I suggest that you hit the snooze button and avoid this one.