Friday, 8 November 2013

Somewhere, In Australia... [Houseboat Horror (1989)]

From http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Nr3sOWkeajU/TrBrWz6D8NI/AAAAAAAABck/BzCvDHyc4Rk/s1600/Houseboat_Horror.jpg

Dirs. Kendal Flanagan and Ollie Martin

I went into Houseboat Horror knowing how bad it was likely to be. Scraping the bucket of Australian exploitation films, it's also a while past the golden age of American slasher films its transposing to the outback. I really don't like the slasher subgenre. I'm willing to watch them still, to be a completist, in hope of finding one or a few I would like, always willing to give something another chance. To maybe be converted into a slasher film fan who can get past the flaws and love the films with enthusiasm. This subgenre can be great, technically starting with Halloween (1978), a damn good film let alone a great one in the subgenre. Even if Houseboat Horror was ridiculous, it may have still been entertaining, to a lesser extent The Nail Gun Massacre (1985), more obviously the jaw dropping Pieces (1982). But the concept of the slasher film could be seen as easy to dismiss, workmanlike in creation, with no atmosphere, teenagers being picked off repetitiously whose only characterisation is the bland dialogue that fails to give them character and their dated fashion. Going through the z-grade slashers would make these factors worse. But I wanted to enjoy Houseboat Horror even as bad trash.

From http://i1.ytimg.com/vi/JGlHJNwSwY8/hqdefault.jpg

Dear Lord, it was worse than I presumed it to be!

From http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-RLGZgJtKjXQ/TrBrNb-x8dI/AAAAAAAABcY/9jISEotwksQ/s1600/Houseboat_Horror_1.jpg

A rock band, subjective because their music is diabolically bad, dated pop with tinny synth, go to record a music promo, renting a houseboat or two and travelling up the river of the Australian woodland. Unfortunately a killer with clear burn marks on their flesh is stalking around the isolated location picking off unwelcomed visitors. After that, if you've seen at least one, imagine the bog standard slasher plotline. And if you watch Houseboat Horror, prepare for the worst. I didn't expect it to be this cheap looking. Shot on a low price video camera from near the turn of the early nineties. Awful music that evokes the low rent cousin of a Casio keyboard. The title is shown as a cheap text made on a computer of the time. It could be seen as cruel to dismiss this from the beginning, but my heart sank when it came obvious that the creators weren't trying at all here. Even if passion was here, it was for such low aspirations. They merely wanted to make an average slasher film with no creativity, and the realisation of how painful the film would be grew when a main character was introduced and spoke. I wanted to avoid evoking the word "Neighbours", as in the Australian soap opera shown on the BBC and the show my parents once watched all the time, even though it was in my head, because I feared it could be seem as racist, by accident, to immediately evoke this for an Australian film. Then I discovered one of the directors of this made episodes of Neighbours. That series was at least a soap opera with some ridiculous drama. This is that soap opera stiltedness through the lowest budget possible and as horrible as it sounds.

From http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-RLGZgJtKjXQ/TrBrNb-x8dI/AAAAAAAABcY/9jISEotwksQ/s1600/Houseboat_Horror_1.jpg

In another context, stuff in the film would be entertaining even if it was technically bad. There is one laugh that I had surrounding a running motif of a jet ski. As the band make the promo and cavort, sleep around and drink, they brought a jet ski with them since, hey, maybe they could use it in the promo since it was still the eighties but only just. Maybe they wanted to create a Duran Duran video even on a shoestring and Russell Mulcahy was unavailable since he was riding high on Highlander (1986). Its naturally used in a death scene in the only amusing moment of the film. But the rest is lifeless. Actors left stranded with insipid dialogue. I tried to engage with the film, but eventually gave up mentally halfway through. Apathy met the film as it went through the motions, as the killer does their thing and cheap prophetic gore effects are thrown about. Something this low budget could have been charming. The Nail Gun Massacre, for how bad technically it was, felt like the locals of a middle American town bringing their idiosyncratic personalities to a mess of a film that yet let them breath through its gaping structure holes. Houseboat Horror is just shockingly low rent. So tedious that it's been difficult to actually write about. Paper-thin characters died with no sadness or tension released, any visual flair or any engaging luridness stayed away from the film, and the gore and nudity is here but missing any jolt to it. Its defiantly an Australian film, but blasphemously it lacks the insane energy of an Australian exploitation film, more when in the nineties a similarly very low budget film, Body Melt (1993), was everything you wanted from such a movie. It's one of the worst films I've seen in a long while. Probably the worst covered on this blog so far. It's not worth the viewing. It's pointless to view it.

From http://www.wirelessfodder.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/HBH05-300x224.jpg

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