Horror House On Highway 5 1985 Review
Horror House On Highway Five 1985
Directed by: Richard Casey
Starring: Phil Terrien, Max Manthey, Susan Leslie
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
To be labelled as the most bizarrely bewildering title of all slasher movies may not seem like much of a memorable claim. But when you consider the fact that the forerunner is up against such twisted beasts asBlood Harvest, Don’t Open ’til Christmas, Blood Beat and the almost extra terrestrial A Day of Judgement, then you begin to realise how tough a challenge it really is.
When it comes to leaving you dumbfounded and gasping at the screen – jaw dropped quicker than if you just received a shattering right hook from Mike Tyson – then Horror House on Highway Five has crossed the finish line while the others are still tying up their shoe-laces. A true, true masterpiece of brain-numbing confusion, Highway Five is about as otherworldly as any movie could ever possibly achieve to be inside this solar system.
Some of the strange images that will appear on your screen over the 90 minute runtime include: A homicidal maniac in a Richard Nixon mask that may well be a dead scientist and is played by an actor named Ronald Reagan (seriously!). Then there are two demented kidnappers – one of them believing that his brain is being destroyed by parasites, while the other acts equally like the mushrooms that he ate with his fried breakfast were certainly those of the ‘magic’ variety. And how could I forget the gang of college half wits who have the intelligence of a bullfrog on crack. Then there’s the wacky soundtrack that includes everything from St Pepper’s-era Beatles style psychedelic-rock to Dion and the Belmonts-type doo-wop?
A college class investigating the creation of the V2 rocket head out to a small town (brilliantly titled ‘Little Town’) where it was believed that the German scientist behind the invention spent his final days in America. Legend dictates that before his disappearance, Frederick Bartholomew became a murderous psychopath and began killing off the people that he worked with. One young student – Sally Smith – is given the task of interviewing two of the scientist’s former associates, the crazed Dr. Mabuser and his stuttering sidekick Gary. Meanwhile a maniac dressed as Tricky Dicky is heading along Highway 5 bumping off anyone unfortunate enough to cross paths with him. Will the classmates escape the secluded town alive? Is that really Richard Nixon trying to murder his way back into the White House? All the answers lie behind the front door of the Horror house on Highway 5…
If anything, Richard Casey’s début certainly proves that there are some strange people inhabiting this planet and a fair majority of them were working on the set of this feature circa 1985. You’d think that at some point during the months of pre-production at least one member of the cast or crew would have said, “Hold on a second, isn’t this all just a little far-fetched?” But no, it seems that the copious amounts of LSD that were handed out as inspirational materials throughout the writing of the screenplay were still in abundance during the shoot. There’s really no other way to explain occurrences such as: The second victim throwing herself through a glass coffee table for *no* reason whatsoever, whilst the killer was hot on his heels behind her. It was only moments earlier that she had been pulling strange faces at herself in the mirror; – the kind of thing that you do if you are tripping out of your head. It may also be the real truth behind Mike and Louise’s cool attitude when they find a disembowelled cat mysteriously dumped in the back of their van. If you are hallucinating consistently, then you expect to see that kind of thing, surely? Oh and before I forget, Dr. Mabuser seems to believe that his brain is being munched by maggots – need I say more?!? Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and all that…
The dramatics are exactly what you’ve come to expect from zero budget slasher movies. You know, the kind of performances that make your children’s high school play look like One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest part deux. There’s one starlet that really gave new meaning to the word ‘wooden’ – she was soooo ‘timber-esque’ that I reckon that she could make an oak bookcase look like a large wall of Lego. The highlight of her brief appearance came as she was being murdered by the former president. With the enthusiasm of a dry roasted peanut she yelped, “Relax just try to put your mind at ease…” Yeah right! Don’t expect to see her popping up in any other motion pictures any time soon.
This does at least try in many ways to add a little spice to the hack and slash cycle. Alongside the traditional masked maniac, there’s at least three other nut jobs to keep you interested and there’s even a hint at the supernatural that’s never completely followed through. Oh yeah and a word of advice to all T&A fans, there’s nothing but dungarees and fluffy jumpers going on here. You’ve more chance of seeing forbidden flesh on an episode of sesame street than you have anywhere in this fully wrapped slasher flick.
My conclusion is that Highway Five was either invaded by otherworldly beings on set, was intended as a spoof, or is simply a misunderstood masterpiece. One thing is for certain however; for all its nonsensical frolics and wayward attempts at terror, it sure makes a fine advertisement for rolling over and going to sleep…
Actually, to make things clearer, the advert ends with the classic line, “Watch this film or die!” Believe me that’s not the easiest of choices to make…
Final Girl: √√