A young American family moves to a House in Kyoto, Japan. It turns out to be haunted by the ghosts of a woman and her lover, who were killed by the woman's husband, as well as the ghost of the husband, who killed himself afterward.
In 1840, a samurai comes home to find his wife in bed with another man, so he kills them both and then himself. Flash-forward to the present day, and an American family of three moves into this since-abandoned house and starts to experience incidents of haunting and possession. Written by
Brian J. Wright <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Would make a brilliant 'Simpsons-Treehouse of Horror' episode.
Director Kevin Connor and wannabe action-hero / romantic lead Doug McClure, re-team in this ghost story set in Japan. They had been moderately successful together in the 1970's, with the likes of 'The Land that Time Forgot' (1975), 'At the Earth's Core' (1976) etc. Without plastic monsters to carry the narrative along though, the results are shabby and derivative in the most corny way.
The film begins with a prologue set in the 19th Century, with a samurai husband killing his wife and her lover before committing suicide. A move forward to the present introduces married couple Ted & Laura, visiting Japan and moving in to the house where the tragedy took place.
No surprises as to what happens next, with the spirits of the dead starting to take over the new inhabitants with family friend Alex (McClure) assuming the role of the wife's lover.
Everything rumbles clumsily along with the elegance and grace of a charging elephant, to an inevitable ( but surprisingly downbeat ) conclusion. Main points of interest are two feeble decapitations ( 'The Omen' has a lot to answer for in promoting this as a standard horror set-piece ), and the love-making scenes featuring the doe-eyed but extremely kinky Susan George. The first is a long 'Don't Look Now' inspired piece with her hubby, complete with piano music; the second a much shorter (probably at her insistence) entanglement with McClure, both looking pretty uncomfortable. Anyway, every cloud has a silver lining and both scenes show of her fantastic knockers so all is not lost.
Overall I can't decide whether 'The House where Evil Dwells' is rubbish, watchable rubbish, or entertaining in a masochistic kind of way. If you're not into the genre there is nothing here at all, but for horror fans there is probably enough to provoke the odd rye smile and appreciative nod of respect for effort.
BEST SCENE - in any other film the big, black, tree-climbing, Japanese-muttering mechanical crabs would have stolen the show. They are eclipsed though by the legendary family meal scene, where a ghostly head appears in the daughters soup. On seeing this apparition she asks what kind of soup it is (!!!!), to be told beef and vegetable, before uttering the immortal line "Ugh - there's an awful face in my soup". If this wasn't enough the reply is "C'mon, eat your soup for Daddy." Laurel & Hardy rest in piece.
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