Saturday, January 23, 2010

Boardinghouse (1982)

Sometimes, a movie comes along that confounds you in every way possible. Said movie is not a good movie. Hell, when you get down to it, it's downright dreadful. Yet you can't hate it. That's because you don't know what to make of it. How do you treat such a movie? It's bad, but it's also so strange, so absolutely bonkers, that it's mere existence will confound and puzzle you for years-maybe for the rest of your life. John Wintergate's 1982 movie "Boardinghouse" is one of these movies.

The "plot" so to speak, deals with a boarding house that has a history of murder. Well, it seems that Jim Royce (director Wintergate, going under the the pseudonym Hawk Adly, and using every opportunity imaginable to be clad in either speedos or tightie whities in a series of very homoerotic moments) decides to inherit the house. He also has telekinesis. Anyways, he decides to invite a group of scantily clad women who are more than willing to go through various stages of undress or have sex with him. No, this is not a porno (though it certainly has production values worthy of one.) Too bad for them there's an evil force that's haunting said girls with hallucinations and killing people off.

Shot on camcorder (the first horror movie of it's type actually) and released in Grindhouse theaters (yes, a shot on video movie actually got a theatrical release), "Boardinghouse" is terrible beyond words. The acting is so bad it would be offensive to even call it acting. The electronic score resembles a bad John Carpenter knock off. The gore FX work is beyond poor. The use of shitty 80's rock is an offense to the ears. The digital effects are laughable to extremes. I could go on an on really, but yeah, this is the pits.

That out of the way, it's never unwatchable. Sure, it's bad (and I mean bad), but unlike most shot on video horror movies, it's never boring. And that's because it really is unlike anything I've ever seen before. Imagine something that resembles a blend of the following:

  • A bad shot on video slasher movie
  • A porn movie without the hardcore sex (but plenty of nudity)
  • Something shot by friends to stave off boredom
  • The type of thing you'd see somebody make for public access television back in the day.
That's just the tip of the iceberg. "Boardinghouse" is so inept, so strange, and so surreal that it borders on some kind of accidental genius. You just sit there, mouth agape watching the thing, and you can't quite figure out why, but you become transfixed by it's world. It barely even resembles a movie. It's a total piece of shit, but you never stop watching it, nor will you ever forget it no matter what. Hell, you might even watch it again. As I said, it's unlike anything I've ever seen.

Some movies confound you, and others warp your mind as to what they are, even if you don't quite know what they are themselves. "Boardinghouse" is one of the latter. Can I recommend it? It depends. It's absolutely awful, but if you really want to see it, I just couldn't say no. It really is a one of a kind experience. Whether or not you want to partake in said experience is totally up to you.

Interestingly, Wintergate says he originally intended this to be a Horror/Comedy, but the distributors were against that idea. He's also into New Age Philosophy. And he still has awful hair.

Rating: I Don't Know.

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