During the opening credits of Full Circle Filmworks’ “House of the Damned”, it clearly states that they have been “sticking it to the man 24/7”. Now, I really don’t want to be one of the men they stick it to so I will be giving the film a glowing review. Not exactly glowing, though not really negative either. This film was shot in 1996 and marked the directorial debut of Sean Weathers. The film is rather interesting for a few different reasons. There was much to enjoy in the film and my hats off to Weathers for just jumping in and doing it, learning along the way. I haven’t seen any of his subsequent films but have heard that each one was better than the last. I don’t know anything about his background, just kind of seems to me that he could have been a film fan that has taught himself to be a filmmaker along the way. The film features an all-black cast of Weathers’ friends and family, all seemed to enjoy their work and it shows in the finished product.
The film begins with an old man in a wheelchair telling his son(?) a story about an evil woman who kills those around her in order to stay young. The man doesn’t believe the story and begins to leave. From out of the closet bursts the woman, brandishing a hammer, and smashing his skull in. A year has passed and his daughter Liz (Valerie Alexander) is having a difficult time adjusting. She doesn’t leave the house much, still grieving. Her mother Emily (Monica Williams) gets her out to enjoy a day, her birthday. To be more exact, her 21st birthday. Unknowing to Liz, her mother invites all her friends over for a birthday party. What they were not expecting was the terror that lies within the home and the sacrifices that will be made to keep the she-devil looking young.
For a movie that barely runs an hour, there is an awful lot of stuff packed in there. I mean, there is a haunting in the house, some black magic, that dang witch, and some foam spewing zombies too. Weathers chose to shoot the film in black and white. I see the advantage, it’s just that some of the scenes near the finale of the film were so poorly lit that for moments at a time, you have absolutely no clue as to what is happening. When you find yourself enjoying the film and having fun with it for what it is, then something like that ruins it a bit. It should also be noted that all of the special effects were done OLD SCHOOL. And I mean old but I have to admit they put a smile on my face when I saw them. From the shoes walking down the hall, the coat going up the stairs, even some stuff shot in reverse.
The acting isn’t great, but it is fun. A little over the top never hurt anyone and when doing a No budget film, it really does add to the charm of the film. I’m not sure how a film like this would play to a mainstream audience, though I do know that lovers of independent horror would have some fun with it. Lets’ not forget that the film is barely an hour long, I can think of worse things you could be wasting your time watching. I’m going to give “House of the Damned **1/2 out of 5. The film is campy, not by accident either. I’m sure it was intentional and Sean Weathers did a great job capturing that feeling. I was surprised at how effective and catchy the score was. I would listen to the soundtrack, cool stuff. Go ahead and give the film a chance. When was the last time you watched a film that had a rapping zombie? Look no further…
House of the Damned (1996)