Saturday, November 14, 2015

BOARDINGHOUSE (1982) 2-Disc Special Edition (DVD Review)


Label: Olive Films I Slasher//Video
Region Code: 1
Rated: R

Duration: 98 Minutes
Audio: English Dolby Digital Mono 2.0 
Video: Full Frame (1.33:1)
Directed by: John Wintergate

Cast: John Wintergate, Alexandra Day, Joel Riordan, Brian Bruderlin

Synopsis: The Hoffman house has what one would call a “haunted history.” Shuttered after a series of mysterious deaths in the early 1970’s, ten years later Jim Royce (John Wintergate, Terror on Tour), a relative and clairvoyant, has reopened his inheritance as a boarding house for young women. But beware … the dark forces are not to be trifled with. Murder and mayhem soon return and no one, and we mean NO ONE, is safe. Slasher // Video presents Boardinghouse, directed by and starring John Wintergate (Terror on Tour) and co-starring Alexandra Day (Double Heat), Joel Riordan (A Prize of Gold), and Brian Bruderlin (Venice Beach).

WTF have I just watched... is what I imagine many a person exclaimed after they convinced their parents to rent this SOV (Shot-On-Video) entry at the local mom and pop video store back in the early '80s. This is not a movie I encountered when I was an early teen ravenously renting horror tapes, but I know for a fact I would have been a hugely let down if I had. This strange brew of amateur horror movie making concerns a man named Jim Royce (director John Wintergate) who inherits a peculiar cursed piece of real estate. A long text intro with voice-over narration (by Wintergate) explains the mysteriously murderous history of the house and those who have died there through the years. Royce, unaware of the shady past, places an ad in the local paper looking for attractive and single women to live in the house with him, they have to be single because he's just that kind of creep, but at least he's a creep with burgeoning telekinetic super powers! 

Through the magic of poorly edited SOV we find a handful of gorgeous women living in the home with Royce almost immediately, what follows are a series of disjointed scenes of scantly clad and nude women and their mind-numbing interactions with playboy Royce, it made my brain hurt. Watching this I could not help but think that director Wintergate made this movie just to be around these attractive young women, and that maybe cocaine and a swingers lifestyle might play into it somehow. Wintergate far too often appears in a tiny leopard-print banana hammock, flaunting his own toned and deeply tanned physique,there are way too many scenes of this guy wearing a piece of dental floss for my own tastes, while I kept waiting for this to devolve into a soft core horror movie I am slightly saddened to say that never does happen, for better or worse.

Onto the supernatural horror of Boardinghouse we have a crude video blob that appears just before the various murders, with the director borrowing a page from horror-showman William Castle with a "horror-vision" gimmick, a menacing black-gloved hand appears onscreen to warn viewers when something horrific is about to happen. Somehow this image does not appear before the numerous video-toaster editing sequences and scene transitions, which are scarier than any d-grade cheap gore effect thrown-up on the screen. To be fair there are some nice moments of cheap gore for fans of trashy horror, including intestine pulling, a cat hammered to death, a young woman's eyes bulge out,  multiple stabbings, and a psychedelic nightmare with Kalassu running through a graveyard pursued by a pig-headed killer, before she ends up on the bed from the DVD cover with a hand trying to pull her down into Hell. Kalassu can scream with the best of the '80s scream queens, screaming at the top of her lungs for five minutes at one point, it probably helps that she was a singer in rock band. The finale happens at a raging pool party with a performance from Kalassu's band 33 1/3 and a demonic possession of sorts, with our banana-hammocked hero Royce battling the wild-haired evil with his finely honed telekinetic prowess. Of course everything is properly drenched in a curtain of fog and pulsating lights, everything is total eighties and perfectly awesome in it's awfulness.

Wintergate indicate in interviews on the disc that Boardinghouse was shot as a horror-comedy but I don't think that is the case, that right there is revisionist history. This is just an amateur Betacam shot horror entry that in hindsight is charmingly inept and loaded with kitsch, but there's some true passion behind it, I give credit to the man just for making this madcap nightmare of a movie, a SOV movie that somehow, beyond good reason, was blown-up to 35mm and projected in a at least a few cinemas. Boardinghouse might be the very first shot-on-video movie by some accounts, and is surely the first to be blown-up to 35mm for showings in a cinema, which makes me laugh when I think about it. I can barely imagine how disappointing it would have been to rent this on VHS, one minute your watching John Carpenter's The Fog, and the next you thrown this tape on? If I had paid to see it in a cinema I honestly might have cried a little, at that time I had no appreciation for bad cinema, which this is through and through, but somehow through the years I have developed an actual craving for bad movies, and this is one of the worst, most amateur movies of all time. Don't be fooled, Plan 9 from Outer Space and Troll 2 have nothing over this entry from '82, but it is an entertaining slice of awful movie making, and I applaud Olive Films and Slasher//Video for giving it the deluxe treatment that better movies than this deserve but rarely get.

Audio/Video: Disclaimer: Boardinghouse, originally Shot On Video, is presented using the best available elements provided by Slasher // Video - that's the disclaimer on the back of the box, they want you to know this is gonna look awful right from jump street. Boardinghouse is a shot-on-video movie shot on Betacam equipment... it looks like a turd compared to a modern digital video production, but compared to other SOV titles of the time this looks mighty fine, and not impossible to watch, which I cannot say of all SOV movies. The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio sounds good, not crisp by any means, but dialogue is discernible, and the synth score sounds great, not to mention some choice cuts from the rock band 33 1/3  which features star Kalassu and director John Wintergate, which I honestly loved. In an age of vinyl reissues I want a double LP of the snyth score and 33 1/3 soundtrack for this one. 

Olive Films and Slasher//Video have stuffed this 2-disc special edition with loads of bonus content, this is truly the Criterion of SOV movies! We have the 98-minute original version on disc 1, plus the mind-melting 157-minute director's cut of the movie on disc 2, which is crazy long, but the damn movie is so strange and weird it never failed to entertain me. Fair warning, the longer cut is best enjoyed with a couch full of friends who love bad movies and with a good brew and maybe some herbs.

There are two interviews with Johnn Wintergate and Kalassu, alternate intro and ending, music videos, demo tracks and live footage from the band 33 1/3, image galleries, the original trailers, magazine interviews and an audio commentary on the director's cut with Director John Wintergate, Actress Kalassu, and Slasher // Video owner Jesus Teron, and once you hear this pair talk about making the movie you are gonna love this movie even more than you did before, there's so much passion behind it, and its a blast to hear them reminisce about the making of the movie, and while it might not have translated onscreen I can still appreciate that pioneering spirit and love of movie making. 

Special Features: 
Disc 1: Theatrical Version (99 Mins))

– Original Film Intro (2 Mins) 
– Boardinghouse Original Trailer (1 Mins) 
– Alternate Ending (5 Mins) 
– Rare Original Trailers, TV Spots, Voice-overs (24 Mins) 
– 2008 Interview w/ John Wintergate and Kalassu (23 Mins) 
– Q And A w/ John Wintergate, Kalassu, and Jesus Teran (5 Mins) 
– Behind the Scenes/Music Video B-Roll (15 Mins) 
– 33 1/3 Teeth – Magazine Interviews (15 Mins) 
– Boardinghouse Photo Gallery - 70 Images (9 Mins) 

Disc 2: Rare Director’s Cut (157 Mins)
– Commentary with Director John Wintergate, Actress Kalassu, and Slasher // Video owner Jesus
– Lightstorm Photo Gallery (15 Mins) 
– “The Phantom” Demo Reel ( 9 Mins) 
– Terror on Tour Revisited (7 Mins) 
– “Break it Off” Live (4 Mins) 
– Teeth "O My Love" (4 Mins) 
– “Stop Fooling Around” Music Video (3 Mins) 
– “The Raven/Break it Off” Music Video (3 Mins) 
– “Love Starved” Music Video (3 Mins) 
– “Teeth” Live in Europe 1981 (3 Mins) 

Boardinghouse (1982) is a slice of pure cheesy trash cinema from the eighties with very few redeeming qualities about it. If you're gonna watch it you have to love bad cinema, unintentional camp and d-grade gore, you cannot watch this expecting a straight-movie or you will have an awful experience. It's like dropping LSD, you have to be in the right mindset or you're gonna have a bad trip. I don't think this is a good movie, but on a certain level I sort of love this movie for just how strange it is. I love that it exists on a 2-disc special edition loaded with extras and that there's a certain subset of b-movie fans out there craving this sort of SOV awfulness, because there are a lot of weirdos out there, so have it weirdos. 2/5