House Of Lost Souls (1989)

House Of Lost Souls (a.k.a. La Casa Delle Anime Erranti) sees a group of young geologists, one of whom suffers from ghastly visions, on their way back from a successful trip, when extreme weather conditions mean their route home is blocked. Not wanting to make their way back into town, as any sensible person would have done, they decide instead, to spend the night in a dilapidated Motel in the middle of nowhere. They take to their rooms after being greeted and given room keys by the mute and surly Manager only to find that as luck would have it, they’ve picked the one Motel that’s currently haunted by the victims of the serial killer who used to run the place after he went on a murdering frenzy, offing his guests, his family and then himself back in 1969.

Like most of the made-for-TV, Italian-produced schlock-fests of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, this movie appears to have been filmed in a combination of English and Italian and then dubbed with stilted American accents. Most of the dialogue therefore, feels forced and oddly formal, meaning that you can never really take any of what the characters are saying seriously. I imagine some of it was also lost or mixed up in translation as some lines make little to no sense at all in the context, making a potentially scary film, inadvertent comedy gold.

The director; Lenzi, who also gave us the infamous cult classic Cannibal Ferox, has been churning out films since 1958 and as such you’d have thought he’d have honed his craft by now but the direction is, at best, unexceptional yet adequate. The gore is kept to a minimum, most of it being gleaned from a series of decapitations, but it’s just about enough to satisfy the more bloodthirsty folks in the audience. Some of the ghostly apparitions are quite creepy, notably the wide-eyed Buddhist Monk, but added to the other factors, what could have been memorable is actually cheesy and unintentionally hilarious.

Despite all it’s faults, I learnt a number of important lessons from this movie. 1) Apparently it’s normal for a family GP to diagnose supernatural conditions. 2) It’s acceptable to replace a young Italian boy’s voice with an adult American woman’s. 3) It’s possible for a man to kill himself and then remove his own head and store it inside a wall along with the heads of everyone else he’s killed. 4) When you suffer a harrowing night inside a haunted Motel, the sensible course of action is to stay there and talk about it at length. 5) Never trust little boys in red hats where washing machines are concerned. 6) Haunted houses can produce 20 inch-thick reinforced concrete at will, to trap you inside if they so desire. 7) If someone suggests watching this little known title, it’s best to poke them in the eyes and beat them with the DVD case until they submit and allow you to choose a better film.

Rating: ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

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