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It's always a little bit funny when a long-respected and heavily-awarded veteran actor shows up in a movie that looks like it was shot in someone's backyard over a three-day weekend. Such is the case of a kooky curiosity entitled Spooky House, which has been sitting on a shelf for at least five years, and is now making its DVD debut to, what, maybe eleven people?
Anyway, we'll get back to that. Here's what I was able to glean, plot-wise, from the messy assemblage of footage that is Spooky House: There's this gruff old magician who has a pet jaguar, and he reluctantly befriends a "adorable" bunch of neighborhood kids (one of whom is scheduled for the orphanage, natch) when a nasty gang of bullies and a bizarre crime baroness threaten to ruin the Halloween season.
Or something like that. Boasting the production value of a high-end Barney episode and featuring the lamest kid actors this side of Canadian television, Spooky House is all sorts of terrible: The dialogue is aimless and flat, the plot is an obvious and ungainly thing, the look of the movie is embarrassing, and the acting is...
Ah, but here's where things get fun. You know the actor Ben Kingsley? Of course you do; a very fine thespian, to be sure, but one who can seem a little ... snooty, from time to time. Knighted SIR Ben Kingsley in the same year he starred in Uwe Boll's BloodRayne, the guy snoozes his way through Spooky House as if the role was given to him as a court-appointed piece of community service. He grumbles, he growls, he slowly grows a heart -- but it's all pretty flimsy, and your mind starts wandering towards questions like "How much cash, really, could Kingsley have earned on a movie this bad?"
And generally that's not a great thing to wonder while you're watching a movie. Oh, and another Oscar winner called Mercedes Reuhl also wanders through this malformed mass, cackling and eye-rolling as a sublimely goofy villainess. So there's two Oscar winners in Spooky House, which is the only conceivable reason it's being released at all. The question of why it was made remains to be answered. I suspect it was created to act as a framework on which to hang an endless array of horrifically bad pop tunes -- cuz if there's one thing that's truly spooky about Spooky House, it's the music.
Directed and co-written by William Sachs, the man who brought you The Incredible Melting Man, Galaxina, and Exterminator 2, Spooky House is so sloppy and inert it should have bypassed direct-to-video and gone straight to public domain. I doubt even very slow kids would be able to sit through the whole thing.
Video: Non-anamorphic, widescreen, flat and grainy.
Audio: Dolby Digital EX 6.1, which just boggles my mind. Just wait till you hear the music! Dolby 2.0 is also included, which helps the pain just a little.
Extras: Just the Spooky House trailer. Oh and EIGHT whole music videos, not one of which you could convince me to sit through even if you promised me large amounts of money and the surgery required to have Spooky House permanently deleted from my brains.
Spooky indeed. I wonder if Ben Kingsley owns a copy.