Monday, July 28, 2008

Suddenly I got a fright...

In the fall of 1987 during my senior year in college, a flier appeared on the table of my dorm about a feature film that would be shooting on our humble little campus located 30 minutes north of Manhattan. From what the paper read, it was a horror story involving murder on a college campus (wow, that’s never been done before) and if anybody was interested in small bit parts or extra work all one needed to do was to show up looking like a "Typical" college student.

Me and my buddy's were on our way to a Saturday football game and thought that if we actually remembered, on the way home perhaps we’d stop by the mall and pick up supplies to silkscreen a fake frat logo on a couple of sweatshirts. We figured that would get us a little play over the other drama students who would certainly be out in full force looking for their big break. We ended up doing just that and when the location producer caught a glimpse us the next morning, quickly thrusted into our hands was a script. “Wha?” was our collective response. “Yeah, the director wants you guys for this scene. Read the script and be ready to take your cue from him when the time comes”. Sweet! We all thought. The film was called 'Fright House'. It starred Grampa Al Lewis and a bunch of other C list local actors. It was supposed to be in the same horror farce vein as one of our favs of the day Troma Films “The Toxic Avenger” which we watched religiously every Fri/Saturday night after stumbling back to the dorms from a typical night of debauchery.

In addition to the big scene we did as a group, I ended up in a few other scenes in various costume as well, and it was a lot of fun to be a part of really. The only real problem with putting me and any of my buddy's in a feature length movie was that not a one of us could actually act, or had any aptitude for it whatsoever. At the time this fact didn't seem to be strange at all to us, nor matter to anybody else including the director. Maybe this acting thing is all a sham we thought. The long awaited finished product went straight to video (where else) and it was horrible by any standard.

This weekend my dad was out looking at IMDb for reviews of flicks he wanted to add to his Netflix list and decided to see what they had to say about his number two son’s brief foray into the world of cinema. Here’s what the two reviews said:

“It's two hours more or less on the mark, one hour per story. Problem is that it feels longer. Part One concerns a snarky detective (actor/producer Paul Borghese) who stumbles upon a coven of witches looking to free their master from hell or something like that. Some bared breasts and Grandpa Munster (Al Lewis, being a sport) supply the only genuine interest. Meanwhile odd things are happening back at the local college creephouse involving human sacrifices, staged suicide jokes, and lots of bad 80's haircuts. Borghese is simply awful, the production utterly uninspired and whatever shocks or gore there is are easily missed if you get up & go to the bathroom at the wrong moment. The problem is that the consumption of beer is about the only way to make it through this and the frequent use of plumbing a by-product of such an undertaking. Too bad: If Grandpa Munster can't even liven up a movie you know it is perhaps time for a re-write.”

(editors note: I didn't get to see any of the bared breastisizz. Even female nudity couldn't save this flick. Sadly, the haircut comment might just be referring to me too.)

Ouch! Here's another...

“This review contains some SPOILERS. Don't read it if you plan on seeing this movie, something you should not do anyway.Taking two short movies, putting them together, and making one movie should double your pleasure, double your fun, right? It should be such a wonderful pairing that it multiplies your happiness by two, right? Well, no, actually it DIVIDES it by two-thousand! For years I wondered if `Fright House' would be an interesting movie, but I was always afraid to rent it. I was always afraid that it would be stupid. Well, finding no one who saw it and no reviews here, I finally rented it and saw it. Yes, it was stupid, but nothing could prepare me for the horror that I was about to see. Now, by saying `horror' I didn't mean this was a scary movie. By using that word, I meant that it was everything about it was pure horror to the viewing eye. Dear Readers, this movie is really terrible.”

So went any hopes for a rags to riches Hollywood story for me. I could feel my dad’s utter disappointment coming through my computer screen 20 years later. I guess the saving grace is that I don’t think the film ever made it to DVD. That’s doubly good since it benefits both me and the viewing public. Sort of like having been in a porno flick. With any luck, my daughter will be spared from ever seeing this film.

Funny thing is, my wife actually BOUGHT a VHS copy of this while we were dating and STILL married me.

9 Comments:

At 11:30 AM, July 29, 2008, Blogger Mathdude said...

Those pans of Fright House don't begin to do justice describing the suckiness of it. Well done sir!

 
At 8:07 PM, July 29, 2008, Blogger Jackson said...

I was green with envy. I think any actual acting skills would have only made the movie worse.

 
At 11:08 AM, July 30, 2008, Blogger Tony Alva said...

Jackson,

As you are one who can actually act, I was embarassed to even have you watch us denigrate so badly your noble field of study beleive me...

 
At 3:08 PM, July 30, 2008, Blogger Falwless said...

Your wife must really, really love you.

Incidentally, this is way closer to fame and fortune than I will ever get.

 
At 9:38 AM, July 31, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember when I went to Blockbuster and actually had to order my copy of Fright House. (Paid $60 bucks for it by the way, it was either love or insanity) And I remember when Tony gave me the actual sweatshirt he had silkscreened and wore in the film. *sigh*
The movie is so painful to watch that I used to just keep it cued up to Tony's scene. "It's bad!" - both a line from the movie and a review!
Mrs. Alva

 
At 10:50 AM, July 31, 2008, Blogger Dave Cavalier said...

When I was 11-14, my friend Alex and I used to make horror films with a Super 8 camera. I wonder how our films would stack up against Fright House.

Mrs. Alva, you are a saint. Any more like you at home?

 
At 1:39 PM, August 01, 2008, Blogger Jackson said...

Hey,....what the....? That guy....!

Chicken.....broken.....

 
At 2:30 PM, August 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry Dave, I'm the one and only.
Mrs. Alva

 
At 11:20 AM, August 07, 2008, Anonymous busbee said...

I was in Birdy with Nicholas Cage and Matt Modine when I was 18. Got paid 50 bucks, a free lunch, and stole the sweater I wore in the movie. I remember two things the most: being a dick to Cage after a scene by saying something snide about his acting, and he totally blowing me off; and getting called back to the makeup chair for a 20-minute blasting of face powder to cover my horrible acne.

 

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