The Film 4/5
Three college students, Sally (Irene F), Louise (Susan Leslie) and The Pothead (Michael Castagnolia) are tasked with a project of investigating a German scientist named Frederick Bartholomew who invented the V2 rocket and immigrated to America. They go to Littletown, where he last resided, to do research and build replica rockets. Our intrepid students immediately run into Dr. Marbuse and his idiot brother Gary, both of which have some serious mental issues, and who may be the sons of Dr. Bartholomew, who in turn may be running around killing folks in a Richard Nixon mask. At least that's what I think is going on. It's hard to definitively say, as is most things concerning Nazis, brain eating maggots and Richard Nixon (credited as Ronald Reagan) on a murderous spree set to a punk rock soundtrack. To say any more on the plot would be pure conjecture on my part.
Horror House On Highway 5 was filmed over a few years, supposedly started before Halloween was released. That adds to the film's uneven yet whimsical tone but not to the point that it feels like two (or more) half finished films jammed together. The slashery parts aren't bad and there's a good bit of suspense. What a weird, dreamy piece of reginal horror cinema it is. I didn't think it lost any of it's bizarre, hazy magic on this new bluray. It can be stilted, jittery and just off at times. During some scenes it shifts between unintentional genius and something you and your friends filmed on video at 2 AM on Saturday when you were in the 9th grade. It moves like playing two records that only occasionally sync up. It's not a good movie in the commonly accepted sense. But you won't forget it and you may, like me, want other folks to see it.
Vinegar Syndrome presents Horror House On Highway 5 in a 2K scan of the 16 MM film in 1080p on two transfers, a matted 1.78:1 and a full frame presentation at 1.33:1. It looks as good as it probably ever will. I have zero complaints, especially for a film made over a long time frame. The soundtrack is presented in a DTS HD Master Audio 2.0 track that again, sounded good to me.
Vinegar Syndrome includes an audio commentary from director Richard Casey, a making of feature: The Return To Horror House On Highway 5, and a music video that the film was the inspiration for. Not included: drugs.
If you want something different, and I know you do, I'd say give this a shot. It's less together than some other obscurish slasher films of the 80's like Satan's Blade. Did Bloody Skull cover this? I bet they did but I don't want to look. I'm sure they said it better if so. Crazytown.
Allow me to quote myself from a series I did for Cinema Somnambulist on underrated slashers*: 'I have the feeling that the director didn't call action until he was sure everyone had taken their crazy drugs...That doesn't do it any justice because this film is at times funny, unintentionally funny, and downright heebie jeebie inducing..." And I still feel that way. Recommended for folks who think outside of the box. Like those who brush their teeth with orange juice.
*reprinted here courtesy of Richard Glenn Schmidt