Filing through Eyesore Cinema's rental bins, I came across a Shot-On-Video title I had been meaning to check out in John Wintergate's 1982 slasher Boardinghouse.
Holeee. I feel like I could fill up a page worth just on the opening credits alone, but even then I'm getting ahead of myself. The filmmakers were first gracious enough to tell me that this movie was filmed in HorrorVision, complete with visual and audio queues that prepared me for the terrors within.
Then, after the faux Carpenter score kicked in – along with a screams of a woman who I couldn't tell was having sex or being murdered – I was regaled with several minutes of state-of-the-art computer graphics recalling the history of the titular abode. This section really put the “crawl” in opening crawl, as the narrator had to slow his pace just to not get ahead of the text. Wintergate was quick to point out in subsequent interviews that he was the first to use computer typing in a movie. He loved this thing, like five-minutes-worth-of-screen-time love.
So, once the movie started proper I was introduced to the antagonist, a shadowy figure that could get people to kill themselves by heavily breathing at them from off screen. A neat trick. After that, our hero and new haunted house owner (also Wintergate) appeared and concisely reminded anyone watching that it's the eighties.
Clothes notwithstanding, I did like Wintergate's style. He's makin' a movie, casts himself as the lead, buys a big house and then fills it with, like ten ladies who just parade around the place half naked – granted one of them was his partner Kalassu. I mean, talk about the American Dream!
As a movie, it is a fucking mess. Narratively, it's all over the place and scenes often seem to cut before they've played themselves out. I found out after it was because it was edited by the distributors who wanted a straight up horror film, while Wintergate was going for full-on camp. They had a point though, as the movie was over ONE-HUNDRED-AND-FOURTY MINUTES when it was handed in. An hour was clipped out of it and that resulted in a movie that made little sense, but somehow still bonkers enough to stand the test of time. Seriously, there's so much confounding stuff in here that I've barely scratched the surface.
Boardinghouse all culminated in a huge house party with lots of blood and guts and smoke and screaming and a live band made up of members of the crew. Wintergate had ambition, I'll give him that and will forever have the distinction of filming the first SOV horror film. For better or worse, he paved the way for every “auteur” with a Sonycam for decades to come.
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