DirectorJames Isaac Film seriesHouse film series Duration CountryUnited States
WriterAlan Smithee, Leslie Bohem Release date28 April 1989 CastLance Henriksen (Detective Lucas McCarthy), Brion James (Max Jenke), Rita Taggart (Donna McCarthy), Dedee Pfeiffer (Bonnie McCarthy), Aron Eisenberg (Scott McCarthy), Thom Bray (Peter Campbell) Similar moviesMad Max: Fury Road, Jurassic World, Furious 7, Blackhat, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
TaglineGo to Hell.
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The Horror Show (also released as House III: The Horror Show and La Casa 7 or La Casa III) is a 1989 supernatural-slasher horror film starring Lance Henriksen and Brion James, produced by Sean S. Cunningham and directed by James Isaac, from a screenplay by Leslie Bohem.
The film suffered an identity crisis due to marketing reasons. Although it seemed to be marketed as a sequel to the film House for the non-US market to raise awareness for the film, this was not the case. The film had been financed through pre-sales of foreign distribution rights using the title "House III", and so by the time production began, it was understood that the film they would deliver would be the third installment in the "House" series. "I had pre-sold the title "House III" in several foreign markets," confirms Cunningham, "and I had to make good on my commitment to deliver it. United Artists liked the script for House III, but for marketing reasons thought The Horror Show would be a stronger title in the US. Ergo House III and The Horror Show." The film has returning crew members (producer Sean S. Cunningham, cinematographer Mac Ahlberg and composer Harry Manfredini, among others) and the premise of a killer haunting a house. The third House film released the US was named House IV in reference to the existence of this film. A similar movie called Shocker was released in October 1989, when this was released in April 1989. The plot points of both movies are almost identical, including a serial killer, execution via electric chair, and said killer making a deal with the Devil. Shocker later became a cult classic. Kane Hodder was the stunt coordinator on the film.
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Detective Lucas McCarthy (Lance Henriksen) finally catches the serial killer named "Meat Cleaver Max" (Brion James) who killed over 100 people and watches his execution. McCarthy and the others watching the execution are shocked to see the electric chair send enough voltage through him to physically burn Max's body before finally dying. However, Max has made a deal with the devil in order to return from the grave and frame Lucas for a series of grisly murders. He also scares the McCarthy family (who have moved into a new house) and the parapsychologist they hire. Lucas' only hope of stopping Max for good is to destroy his spirit before Max destroys his life and family.
Lance Henriksen as Detective Lucas McCarthy
Brion James as Max Jenke
Rita Taggart as Donna McCarthy
Dedee Pfeiffer as Bonnie McCarthy
Aron Eisenberg as Scott McCarthy
Tom Bray as Peter Campbell
Matt Clark as Dr. Tower
Critical reception for The Horror Show was overwhelmingly negative and the movie holds a rating of 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 7 reviews. Noted film critic Roger Ebert gave the film one out of four stars. The New York Times wrote, "The Horror Show builds up a good head of suspense, then squanders it in mechanical, poorly staged splatter." AllMovie wrote, "this film consists of long periods of tedium punctuated by outbursts of graphic gore and surreal effects." John Kenneth Muir stated that it was "one of those horror movies where the missed potential just cannot escape notice" and that it was also too similar to Wes Craven's Shocker, which released that same year.
The film was released theatrically on April 28, 1989 and first released on VHS later that same year in November.
Originally released on VHS with its sequel, House IV on September 1, 1998, the film has been out of print for several years.
Scream Factory released the film in a Blu-ray and DVD combo pack on November 26, 2013.