So kids are creepy, right? An army of J-horror fans will tell you so (well at least girls with long black hair are).
There are some classic horror movies that involve children being suitably evil but most always seem to revolve around a bigger, more sinister event that is out of their control. My personal preference are the kiddy horrors that see kids being gits just because they can.
The Horrible House On The Hill (also known as Peopletoys, Devil Times Five & Tantrum) is one of those kinds of movies.
The movie begins with a bus bound for a local mental asylum crashing in the snowy mountains, the driver is killed but the 5 children inside survive. Tired, cold & hungry they make their way to a nearby mountain cabin where a group of unlikeable adults are hanging out. A mixture of family, friends & employees most of the adults harbour resentment towards each other (In particular top-dog, Papa Doc). The only one who isn’t immediately unlikeable is Ralph, the mentally-challenged helper.
Before the kid’s arrival, Interaction between the adult’s tries to give us reasons to care about them, it fails. Take Lovely, for example, the attractive & promiscuous wife of Papa Doc. Her attempted seduction of Ralph & a few other men shows just how much of a horrible person she is (her main role is to be the one to show a bit of flesh).
The kids arrive, destroy the means of contact & come in through the basement where they set about beating to death someone who was following them. It is filmed in slow-motion with barely any light or gore & lasts around 5 minutes. That’s 5 minutes of slow-motion….
They hide the body & then make themselves known to the rest of the adults acting all innocent & lost. The rest of the movie is a mix of strange conversations (Ralph & the girl who thinks she’s a nun while doing dishes), awkward seduction, death & the eventual suspicion & realisation by the few survivors.
It’s a movie that promises a lot & never really delivers save for a few interesting & graphic scenes later. There are some wonderful set-ups for situations later that I really enjoyed. Such as Papa Doc showing off his piranhas to the kids & warning them of the danger (Naturally they are used to kill Lovely while she is in the bath) or the alcoholic woman who appears to be soaked in gin & really flammable….*hint, hint*.
Some of the later deaths are pretty inventive & I really liked the way kids continued to behave like kids while murdering everyone in the house, such as building a snowman using a dead body or the ‘tea party’ final scene. The children do a great acting job & I wanted a couple to get their comeuppance in the end.
Sadly there are a lot of negatives that detract away from the overall experience. To watch this movie you have to suspend a lot of your disbelief. I found it hard to swallow that a grown woman could be held under water by the one-hand of a child.
An adult being stupid because they think kids are stupid is believable up to a point, you know?
At its release date I can totally understand how this must have been a really shocking movie & it probably isn’t fair to judge it so harshly 30 years later. It is not a bad movie at all & has some really enjoyable moments but can’t excuse a pretty boring middle, strange use of slow-motion & lack of gore.
The Horrible House On The Hill