The House on Tombstone Hill - The House on Tombstone Hill (Blu ray/DVD) [Vinegar Syndrome - 2018]From the tail end of the 1980ís The House on Tombstone Hill is a slightly clunky though entertaining horror flick that brings together elements of haunted house cinema, zombie flick, & slasher- all tied up with a ton of blood, fairly impressive practical effects, and lo-fi campy flair. From Vinegar Syndrome- those seekers of lost or forgotten genre fare hereís a nice & shiny Blu ray/DVD combo of the film- which offers up an impressive new 2k scan of the film, and a few extras.
The House On Tombstone Hill( aka Dead Dudes In The House, The Dead Come Home, The Road) was released in 1989- itís a New Jersey produced film that was the directorial debut of James Riffel( Blacked Eyed Susan, Mass Of Angles, and severally lengthily titled horror parodies). The plot sees a group of eight young friends going to fix up an old house that one of them has purchased. Fairly soon in the house's backyard, they come across the grave of the former owner Annabelle Ė who was killed by her husband back in the 1940's. One of the group smashes the headstone, and this awakens Annabelle, and so the carnage begins. First with Annabelle staking & killing the friends, then the living dead friends returning to kill their remaining companions- adding to the group predicament- they canít get out of the house.
The film was initially released & distributed by Troma- but donít let that put you off as The House On Tombstone Hill is a lot more competent & less bizarrely skewed that much of the companies output. The pace of the whole thing is fairly active, and within a fairly short time, we are into the blood & gore. The house setting is most distinctive & effective and is best described as a whiteboard cube with tow chimneys stuck on. As youíd expect from z budget 80ís horror flicks, the acting is decidedly mixed- though for the most part acceptable. From time-to-time there are some generally creepy moments & the little old lady killer is both sleazy & a little alarming( turns out itís one of the male actors in a mask). As already mentioned the blood & gore is fairly constant in its flow throughout the film, and for the most part it's fairly creative & OTT we get- hands chopped off, buzz-saws stuck in heads, screwdrivers though ears, legs lopped off etc- the practical effects are done by respected effects artists like Ed French and Bruce Spaulding Fuller. At times there is a hint at more slapstick gore & humor ala The Evil Dead Films, or Alive Dead( aka Brain Dead)- but for the most part, the film keeps a bit more straight in tone blending together unease, 80ís campiness, and bloody attacks. The idea they canít get out of the house adds an interesting edge to proceedings, and at times itís like those in the house are living in a different dimension to the outside/ rest of the world. Another interesting twist is when the dead friends come back, they're not just moaning zombies- they talk, making often funny quips & tacky one-liners. On the whole, The House On Tombstone Hill is a worthy late 80ís crossbred between several horror subgenres- and the high gore rate, and campy-though- darkly surreal tinged air to the film, helps it stand out from the crowd.
On this new reissue, we get both Blu Ray & DVD in a double clear Blu-ray case- this features revisable color cover featuring two different cover artworks & titles. The new print featured here, is as weíve come to expect from Vinegar Syndrome, pretty damn great- the excessive reds really look bold-yet- realistic, and eerier abandonment of the house with its shadows, grey light, and creepiness are captured very well- really you wonít have seen a z grade late 80ís horror flick look this good. Extras-wise, we sadly donít get a commentary which is a pity, but we do get around an hour & twenty minutes of extras. Firstly we thirty-minute featurette taking in recent interviews with three of the male cast- and this is certainly worthy, as it gives a nice insight into what it was like being a young struggling actor in the late 80ís, and of course, we get some nice tit-bits of info about the film's production. Next, we get a forty two minute audio-only interview with the director- this is most rewarding, as it sees him discussing everything from the film's funding, the location, the distribution deal with Troma, the shoot its self, and beyond.
Once again itís great to see Vinegar Syndrome putting out another lost horror flick that blurs & subverts its sub-genres. And while The House on Tombstone Hill certainly is a little clunky & awkward in places, thereís enough here to keep 80ís horror fans happy. Roger Batty