Boarding House (US - DVD R1)
This may be the most awesomely awful motion picture Gabe has ever seen...
You know you’re in for something special when the opening credits are set in almost unreadable Commodore 64 text to a totally rad 8-bit electronic score.
I’m at a loss. I can't sum up this plot because I have no idea what just happened. Apparently there’s this guy who practices a special brand of Yoga that makes it possible for him to move objects with his mind. Telekinetic Man buys a big house with plans to turn it into a boarding house for sexy girls (only sexy girls); the problem being that the house is kind of haunted by some kind of outside force, which also has telekinetic powers. Then some girls wrestle in bikinis. Later some girls have a lingerie party. There are some sex scenes, and a couple of people are killed telekinetically (though which telekinetic is doing the killing seems to be up to the audience).
Boarding House may be the worst DVD released movie I’ve ever had the pleasure of enduring. This was one of the first (some say the first) films shot entirely on video. The, ahem, ‘cinematographer’ lops off most of his shots too high, and depends too much on the camcorder’s ‘zoom’ function (in and out an in and out equals scary). Panning shots are obviously created using the tripod that came with the camera, and the tripod is in obvious need of a greasing. Sometimes the frame shudders as the tripod sticks, or as the camera man is apparently startled by a character coming into frame too high.
The editing, acting, scoring, scripting, and production values are all phenomenally clumsy, again, among the worst I’ve ever seen. I won’t waste your time with specifics. There is an inescapable fascination in watching something this inept, and though padded to a mind numbing ninety-eight minutes, there is plenty entertainment value to be absorbed. The unequivocal volume of girls in bikinis and lingerie is good for mindless regalement, and the gore scenes are delightfully ham-fisted and bloody. Once one knows that the ‘director’ is also the ‘star’, the film takes on new levels of hilarity as he repeatedly dresses in nothing but leopard print Speedos and sleeps with basically every girl in the house. He also has a rat-tail.
‘Director’ and ‘star’ Johnn Wintergate claims on the DVD commentary and interview that he intended the film as a spoof of early slashers, but I don’t buy it, especially when he doesn’t back up that in passing comment with many samples (he makes claim to a few pratfalls that were deleted by the distributor that wanted a real horror feature). Spoofs don’t pad out their runtime with ‘dramatic’ plot development, or long shots of menial tasks, and they generally tend to make jokes. I don’t believe most of these laughs were intended (except a golfer falling over). The only spoof element I buy is the use of ‘Horror Vision’, which is a ‘warning’ of future carnage, similar to those used in old William Castle flicks. These warnings are either a black-gloved hand set against a digital rainbow, or a digital ‘spectre’.
Once again, Boarding House is one of the first filmed on video motion pictures, so there really isn’t much the Code Red folks can do about it. Overall the print looks as good as anyone can expect, but there are still plenty of glaring errors to contend with. We’ve got analogue tape tracking errors, chroma noise (some of it seems to be on purpose to look ‘cool’), comet tails, a touch of mosquito noise, and some really high gain. The colours are bright enough once you get past the almost impossible to read opening credits, but they bleed into each other a whole lot. Details are pretty weak, but contrast levels are effective.
I don’t know if Code Red has made a mistake in reproducing this stereo soundtrack, or if they’ve done a bang up job and the original tracks were just this screwy. Almost all music and post added sound effects are delegated to the right speaker, and almost all dialogue, on set sound effects and screaming is delegated to the left. The mix volume is totally random, and tinny with the sound intake of a cheap, on-camera mic. Sometimes one channel will be impossible to hear, while another will blare with distortion.
Extras begin with a goofy commentary featuring director/star Johnn Wintergate, actress Kalassu (that’s the whole name), and moderator/fans Lee Christian and Jeff McCay. Most of the track is devoted to laughing at the movie, and most of the jokes fall hilariously flat, including some really uncomfortable racism when an Asian girl shows up for a brief love scene with Josh Brolin’s little brother (really?). Wintergate, who has the gall to use the word ‘innovative’ when describing his filming choices, has some awesomely intricate explanations for the plot, which apparently involves alternate dimensional Hitlers (!).
The following interview with Wintergate and Kalassu covers most of the same material, but with the added bonus of getting to see these undeniably silly looking people. They misremember a lot of facts (there’s no way a 1982 release played against Jaws), mispronounce words (it’s ‘aspiring actors’ not ‘inspiring actors’), and they keep laying claims to purposeful humour (I still don’t buy it guys). In other words, comic gold. The interview is followed by a collection of Code Red trailers.
This is as bad as it gets people. I’m desperately struggling to remember anything this poorly conceived and created. I regret giving Live Feed and Nightmare Man such low scores, because this one has really no where to go (and 0/10 is still reserved for White Chicks only). However, this doesn’t mean Boarding House doesn’t come highly recommended to fans of bad movies, or those with a spare weekend and surplus of alcohol and pizza.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 29th April 2008
Disc Type: Single side, single layer
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo English
Extras: Director/Actor Commentary, Director/Actor Interviews, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: John Wintergate
Cast: Alexandra Day, John Wintergate, Kalassu
Genre: Comedy and Horror
Length: 93 minutes
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