When I heard that Sam Raimi's Ghost House partnership with Mandate Pictures was finally coming to a head back in 2004 (with the remake of The Grudge), I was excited for a slew of inventive horror films to hit the shelves over the next few years. It took awhile for the project to get off the ground however, and after a few letdowns (The Grudge 2, The Messengers, Boogeyman) we were finally blessed with 30 Days of Night and now, a line of films under the umbrella of Ghost House Underground.
The first pick for me was The Last House in the Woods. The story begins with a couple who has a car accident with their young boy in the back seat, and the husband is killed. The mother exits the car and is killed by a passer-by on the road, who bashes her head in with a stone. The boy witnesses the murder, and flees to a nearby house in the woods.
We are then introduced to a young couple who goes for a drive and a little sexy time off the side of the road. They encounter a trio of bullies who beat the shit out of the guy and attempt to rape the girl. A couple pulls over to help, and scares the 3 men away at gunpoint, taking the couple back to their house for refuge. What appears to be an act of kindness quickly turns into a nightmare. The couple has a son in serious need of a dental visit, and our lead female Aurora (played by Daniela Virgilio) tries to escape the grasp of the husband, Antonio (played by Gennaro Diana) when he produces a syringe. She wakes up in the living room, now covered in plastic, with her boyfriend Rino (Daniele Grassetti) at her side. Both of them are tied up, and we notice that Rino's leg has been hacked off, which the son is feasting on at the dinner table alongside his 2 deformed brothers, one of which has a huge pulsating growth on his neck. A gruesome dinner scene that pays homage to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, we are given some great gore effects here, especially when one of the brothers revs up a chainsaw and mutilates Rino's arm, splattering Aurora with dark thick blood.
The bullies end up at the house by coincidence after hearing the screams, with a plan to "fuck the girls and steal all the DVD players." The English dubs are absolutely terrible throughout the entire film, which gives it a B-movie feel. The lighting effects are well-done, creating eerie illuminations on the faces of the family. The bullies go head to head against the family, and one of my favorite scenes is when one of the bullies squeezes the brother's growth until it squirts bright yellow goo all over his face. One of the bullies is opened up with a chainsaw, his intestines spilling out with great attention to detail in the effects department.
The story line is rather weak, and we are given little insight into why the family has gone mad. Towards the end of the film it all goes haywire, when we discover the young boy from the opening car crash scene is locked in the basement, propped up on a pedestal with no arms or legs. We learn that the other son is a cannibal, feeding off the victims his mother and father kill as an act of love.
All in all the movie is fun, gory, and moves at a steady pace. Hopefully the rest of the Ghost House Underground films are this fun. I give The Last House in the Woods 4 toes.
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