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American Gothic (1988)

 -  Horror  -  May 1988 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.7/10 from 1,968 users  
Reviews: 73 user | 27 critic

On a lonely island in the Pacific Northwest, a group of travelers find themselves targeted by a crazed, homicidal family.



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Title: American Gothic (1988)

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Complete credited cast:
Sarah Torgov ...
Terence Kelly ...
Psychiatrist (as Terry Kelly)
Mark Erickson ...
Jeff (as Mark Ericksen)
Mark Lindsay Chapman ...
Fiona Hutchison ...
Janet Wright ...


When six friends fly off on a weekend getaway and are suddenly plagued by engine trouble, they're forced to land on a remote island. Looking for shelter, they're grateful to encounter Ma and Pa and their children - an eccentric family living in the island's backwoods. But what begins as simple hospitality turns into a terrifying race for survival as the friends start disappearing one by one ... and turning up dead. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The family that slays together stays together.




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Release Date:

May 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

American Gothic  »

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Did You Know?


The poster art, and all related media were based on the famous painting by Grant Wood. See more »


When Teddy and Woody douse Paul's body with gasoline, you can see him blink as this is happening. See more »


Rob: [taking Terri under his arm] Okay, where do we sleep?
Pa: ...Just a hitched?
Rob: Huh?
Pa: Hitched! Hitched! Hitched! Hitched! It means married, that's what it means!
Rob: Nope
Pa: Well then, where do you think you're going?
Rob: Goin' to bed, get our 40 winks.
Pa: No you're not. There will be no devil's play in this house...
See more »


Referenced in Videoclub (2013) See more »


Happy Birthday To You
Written by Mildred J. Hill and Patty S. Hill
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User Reviews

Let's get the hell outta here....
28 May 2001 | by (Kimberling City, MO.) – See all my reviews

I just watched this last night. I watched it back-to-back with "The People Under the Stairs" and while it pales in comparison to that classic, I must say that I really dug it. It's a pretty standard b-movie (what was I expecting?), but there are some things that help elevate it a bit. For one thing, Rod Steiger is in it. The guy plays a complete prick in almost everyting I see him in, and this is certainly no exception. I didn't necessarily find him scary, but he was annoying and obnoxious as hell. Nothing would have given me greater pleasure than to reach through the screen and knock that horrible grimace off his face. However, he was almost moving towards the end and I took his role to be a parody of man's interpretation of religion. Not that this is a deep or serious film by any means, but that part did strike a chord with me.

The story starts with a group of six, (one of which is a former mental patient) heading off on a camping trip. When they are forced to land their plane on a small island, one stays behind, while the others decide to look for signs of life. They soon find an old house. Thinking that the place is deserted, the group walks in and makes themselves at home. About ten-minutes later, Ma and Pa come home to find the youngsters dancing and playing. At first, Ma and Pa seem like the old fashioned, hospitable couple, but trouble starts when one of the girls doesn't finish her plate and Pa nearly has a stroke when another girl lights a cigarrete. Despite these atrocities, Ma and Pa are still hospitable enough to let them stay the night. Pa says he has a friend coming with a boat who may be able to help them. Another ruckus arises when the group heads off to bed. Pa makes it clear that if they are not "hitched", the boys are to sleep with the boys and the girls with the girls. This is turning out to be a fun trip, indeed.

Pretty soon, the girls meet Fanny. Fanny is Ma and Pa's daughter who is anticipating her 12th birthday. But that's kinda strange considering that Fanny looks to be around 50. We are then introduced to Fanny's brother Woody (played to perfection by Michael J. Pollard) and Teddy (some annoying fat guy). They aren't much younger than Fanny but are on the same maturity level. It's all down-hill from here folks. Pretty soon, kids start getting picked off (in true slasher fashion) one by one and it becomes clear that Pa's friend is not coming because Pa has no friends. Some of the deaths are pretty inventive (the swingset death is a riot) but it becomes pretty tiresome. This all goes on until there is only one left. Who? You guessed it. The mental patient. She may just be a little too smart for Ma and Pa to handle.

All in all, this is a bad movie with an awful reputation. The performances are way over-the-top (thanks to Steiger) and the film has this really grainy look to it. However, there is a dark atmosphere that gives the whole thing this creepy feeling. At times, it is even a little scary. Fanny gave me the creeps. The best performance of the bunch was Michael J. Pollard. He had very little to work with, but the few speaking lines he has (when he's not running around, laughing like a maniac) are well done and wholly believable.

On my scale of a 1-10, I give it a 7. It is a pretty original treatment of a tried and true formula and although it does draw from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it really worked for me. If you enjoy this movie, you're likely to enjoy Rob Zombie's "House of 1000 Corpses" due out pretty soon, now. Michael J. Pollard plays a similar character, from what I hear.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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