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  House IV Hit The Roof
Year: 1992
Director: Lewis Abernathy
Stars: Terri Treas, William Katt, Scott Burkholder, Denny Dillon, Melissa Clayton, Dabbs Greer, Ned Romero, Ned Bellamy, John Santucci, Mark Gash, Paul Keith, Annie O’Donnell, Kevin Goetz, Carolyn Mignini, Steve Vinovich
Genre: Horror, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Roger Cobb (William Katt) made his late father a promise before he died, and that was to preserve his old house, out there in the desert. He has made up his mind to stay in it after sprucing it up, but his wife Kelly (Terri Treas) and daughter Laurel (Melissa Clayton) are more sceptical that it is the most appropriate place to live in light of how rundown the building is. But Roger will hear nothing of this, not even when his brother Burke (Scott Burkholder) tries to persuade him to sell it off to a land developer, then fate intervenes. On the way back from doing some maintenance to the house, a tyre explodes and the car careens off the road, landing in a heap. Kelly and Laurel manage to get free, but Roger is not so lucky...

Now, here's something to confuse you. Some will have it that there is no House III in producer Sean S. Cunningham's four, or possibly three movie franchise, yet others will point out House III was actually the horror film The Horror Show, since that is what it was called in some territories, notably Britain. That was why this entry, known as House IV, or House 4: The Repossession in selected regions of the world, was designated the fourth, but if you lived in an area where the third instalment had not been called House III then you might have found yourself searching in vain for the one between this and House II: The Second Story. Given that they were all standalone efforts, maybe it was not worth worrying your head about.

Except House IV made an attempt, however half-hearted, to connect to the first one which had starred William Katt, but otherwise narratively did what the others achieved by making this a rare franchise without any recurring characters, even rarer in a horror franchise where even a villain would have a habit of showing up time and again. Katt was back as Roger, but his backstory was altered, he no longer had an ex-wife and son (they were written out entirely), now he had a current wife and daughter, though not for long as Roger saw himself bumped off within about ten minutes of screen time. This was presumably because Katt was the biggest name in the cast, and they could only afford him for a couple of days.

In his place we had Terri Treas as Mrs Roger, an actress then best known to science fiction fans for her regular appearances on the Alien Nation television series, though there she was labouring under a plastic prosthetic head and might not be as recognisable from it as her less aliened up co-stars. If you wanted to see what she looked like normally, then this was your ideal opportunity, but did House IV hold any interest outside of that curiosity? It was clearly intended to shake up the haunted house premise with a female lead instead of the male one they had used up to this point, and to an extent that did contribute an interesting perspective, though in the main the weird shit the protagonist would experience was more or less the same kind of sub-A Nightmare on Elm Street business as before.

Kelly and the now-paralysed from the waist down Laurel decide to move into the old place to pay tribute to the deceased Roger, but Burke is keen for her to sell thanks to a bizarre subplot where a dwarf businessman who drains his phlegm from a tube and then has his henchmen force feed it to Burke for reasons best known to himself, all the better to encourage him to buy the titular house and expand their toxic waste scheme upon it. The best known part of this was apparently dreamt up by one and done director Lewis Abernathy, where a singing pizza delivery man leaves said foodstuff with Kelly only to horrify her when she opens the box to see a talking face in among the mozzarella, tomato paste and anchovies; it was a brief bit, but probably the highlight. That was down to a distinct lack of surprises this time around, with the influence of the Poltergeist franchise it had been inspired by bringing in a native American mystic, as Poltergeist II had, but still looking like an afterthought. As did the entire movie: it was pretty much released straight to video back in 1992, again you're not surprised. Music by Harry Manfredini.

[Arrow have released a Blu-ray box set of all four House movies. They have:

Brand new 2K restorations of all four films
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
The House Companion limited edition 60-page book featuring new writing on the entire House franchise by researcher Simon Barber, alongside a wealth of archive material

On the House IV disc the features are:

Audio commentary with director Lewis Abernathy
Home Deadly Home: The Making of House IV brand new documentary featuring interviews with director Lewis Abernathy, producer Sean S. Cunningham, stars Terri Treas and William Katt, actor/stunt coordinator Kane Hodder, and composer Harry Manfredini.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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