House of Ghosts by Ambush Bug
Originally posted at Ain't It Cool News
Christopher R. Mihm offers up another retro-gem with "House of Ghosts," which has the writer/directed channeling his inner William Castle. The DVD itself comes with a Fear Shield to cover your eyes with if the terrors within the film become too frightful for the viewer. It's little details like this that makes me respect Mihm's talent both as a filmmaker and a captor of nostalgia whose trapping skills seem to be unparalleled in modern horror.
The story follows a group of people meeting in an old dark house, the setting for many a ghost story, and that's what Mihm plays on so well. Because we have seen this scenario time and time again, it makes the film all the more gripping. The group performs a sort of séance and end up seemingly ripping a hole into the afterlife and summoning ghosts, ghouls, and even the Angel of Death.
While homage filmmakers such as Mihm might be laughed off by "serious" horror film fanatics, "House of Ghosts" seems bent on proving to the critics that Mihm's stories can be scary, as this film is filled with bizarre and twisted imagery that is genuinely frightening. From a simple skeleton in a wig to a floating dog to a giant monster demon mask, Mihm's direction adds a level of tension and terror to objects and situations that would otherwise be comical. For some reason, be it the situation, the actors involved, or just Mihm's crisp direction, "House of Ghosts" works as a thriller on its own.
In my opinion, "House of Ghosts" is my favorite of Mihm's films that I've seen so far. In terms of scenes of actual fear, the level of artistry and creativity in terms of effects, and the potency of story all factor in to make this film not only an homage to a scary movie, but a scary movie itself. While the humorous tone is there, it's not as front and center as in other of Mihm's films like "The Giant Spider" and "Attack of the Moon Zombies," which amps up the effectiveness of the scares as well. Still campy, "House of Ghosts" makes me wonder how Mihm would tackle a more modern and straight up serious horror film.