In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Ma & Pa Death

This week’s VHS is the instantly recognizable 1987 John Hough joint, American Gothic.

A group of vacationers end up stranded on an island inhabited by a family of psychos.

I have no real excuse as to why I hadn’t watched American Gothic until now. I guess I just got distracted by flashier stuff I suppose. The movie isn’t anything special, but the fact it was directed by John Hough is significant. His earlier works for Disney, The Watcher in the Woods and both Witch Mountain flicks, were some of my first encounters with the fantastical as a kid. I owe him a debt for his contribution to my love of genre film for sure.

This one, however was a bit problematic mainly due to all the protagonists, save the lead played by Sarah Torgov (she’s got her own problems) were complete fucking assholes. I think that only one character was supposed to be the stereotypical jerk, but they were all fairly unlikable. I mean who walks into someone’s house and starts messing with their shit, even putting on clothes! Considering how homicidal Ma & Pa were, I think they handled that first interaction quite well.

Hicks vs Dicks.

Even the husband (Mark Erickson) – who dragged his wife out into the wilderness right after she was discharged from the loony bin – made some deplorable comment to the effect of, oh yeah my wife, the wet blanket. You brought her here, dude!

The movie was a fairly pedestrian affair until the three “children” showed up (one of whom was consummate character actor Michael J. Pollard) and the killing started. While even that wasn’t particularly bloody, at least it was fulfilling to see all these idiots being punished for their sins. If you’ll indulge me in a completely random observation, two deaths in this movie are almost exactly the same as those in the 2017 video game What Remains of Edith Finch. Totally unrelated of course, it’s just one of those completely inexplicable parallels.

Janet Wright as Fanny in American Gothic.

American Gothic was fairly standard in execution, but did score points for straying into the bizarre. It might not be as entertainingly bonkers as Freddie Francis’ similarly themed 1970 film Girly, but – what is? – its last fifteen minutes did veer in an unexpected direction that elevated it somewhat.

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