Director: Jag Mundhra
Year of release: 1987
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 90-95 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: Neither (possibly OOP VHS)
Tagline: "Now it's open season for murder".
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: In a small American town a series of murders occur in which the victims are all attractive female realty estate agents. With their bodies left within the very properties they were trying to sell the police are initially baffled as to who is behind the heinous acts. A lead which could potentially break the case occurs however when a suspicious individual calls in repeatedly to a local radio show helmed by psychologist Dr David Kelly. Dr Kelly as it turns out is in a relationship with one of the lead figures from the towns biggest realty firm so is understandably concerned over his partners safety. The more he talks to the caller over the radio the more convinced Kelly becomes that he is in fact talking to the killer himself. Our psychologist hero soon begins working with the local police in order to bring the felon to justice before Kelly’s girl Lisa becomes the latest victim.
Good points: *There are some mildly exciting moments early on in the film where estate agents are showing potential buyers around what they assume to be an empty house only to hear a strange noise upstairs. We the viewer know the killer is on the prowl but not realising the danger the realtor leaves the client downstairs to go and investigate on their own. This happens on a couple of occasions near the beginning and these scenes provide the most tension Open House offers. Though not exactly edge of your seat stuff there is a sense of jeopardy and a spark of excitement as a result.
*Open House goes down a different path than most others of its kind by utilising a much older than usual cast with not a teenager in sight. Instead we have middle aged psychologist David Kelly as a central figure and to his credit he’s acceptable enough as a main character. His girlfriend/wife Lisa is more than adequate as well and being played by Adrienne Barbeau of The Fog fame she brings a little bit of class and name value to the project. He maybe gets a bit too much screen time but there is a fun slimeball character by name of Barney Resnick thrown into the mix as well who livens things up a smidgen. Not a one of these characters are anything too special or memorable but they do well enough and at least stand out to some extent just for being older than your typical slasher cast.
*Spoilers: It almost certainly wasn’t the intention but the film raises the odd chuckle in an ultra-cheesy so bad it’s good kind of way. There is a part early on for example where a woman just screams and screams for what seems like a dogs age after discovering a body.
At the end the killer is shot in the head with brain matter leaking out of the wound but still gets up to deliver a traditional final scare moment. This part reminded me a lot of the Orville Ketchum character from the Sorority House Massacre films in terms of a killer being able to withstand a ridiculous amount of damage. As outrageous as it was at least it utilised the final scare trope as well as raising a half smile.
Bad Points: *The deaths are of a low sub-par standard all being either cut away or off camera with bare bones special effects to accompany them. It isn’t among the worst I’ve seen in this area in fairness but it’s certainly a lot more bad than good. One small thing to praise is that the methods of execution are at least varied with the unique weapon of a toilet plunger embedded with razor blades even being put to use at one point. Due to how this kill is shot however it’s not half as much fun as it sounds.
*Spoilers: The killer is atrocious and a real disappointment when revealed at the end. Throughout the running time only his lower body or hands are mainly seen so though there is no mask there’s at least some anticipation for the reveal at the end. Sadly when it comes it’s an anti-climax with the guy not turning out to be a pivotal cast member for that “Oh it was him all along” moment but instead just a random homeless man with a witless and lazy motive.
Other bad films like Houseboat Horror or Spine at least had the good sense to have their killer be facially disfigured as to provide some payoff when the reveal finally happens. Here however as he’s a relatively normal looking guy it makes for an underwhelming expose.
*Very mild spoilers. Story-wise this comes across as boring and bland and it really struggled to hold my interest over the roughly hour and a half running time. The writing is just poor at times such as in the beginning with the stressed out caller to Kelly’s show committing suicide. I was expecting this to tie in with the killers motive at the end but it was never mentioned again so was completely irrelevant and a waste of time.
The ”Remember Mary Lou” clue which Lisa gave Kelly after being abducted didn’t make any sense either as from that he somehow seemed to puzzle out where the killer had taken her. As far as I can tell there would have been no way he would have been able to work it out just from that tiny bit of information.
Verdict: As one of those rare slashers that’s not officially available currently on DVD this was always one to pique my interest. Unfortunately when finally getting around to checking it out it proved to be a big disappointment. Far too boring for its own good it quickly becomes apparent why it’s so obscure.
Some miniscule bits of excitement near the start together with a half decent crop of characters just about drag it out of the truly wretched territory but only just.
You may get some minor kicks out of the cheesiness of it all but this is a turgid affair best lost to the ether.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1)Female radio caller: Commits suicide by shooting herself.
2)Female: Found dead in the shower of house.
3)Female estate agent: Bludgeoned with razor embedded toilet plunger handle.
4)Male buyer: Same as #3.
5)Female estate agent: Electrocuted.
6)Female estate agent: Found hanging with noose around neck.
7)Barney Resnik: Decapitated. We just see the killer with the head.
8)Female who was seducing/dominating Resnik: Hung with dog lead/collar.
9)The killer (Harry?): Shot repeatedly and then later falls off a balcony to his death.