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Case Number 03018

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Grandmother's House

Image Entertainment // 1988 // 90 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Eric Profancik (Retired) // June 19th, 2003

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All Rise...

The Charge

Please do not reveal the ending.

Opening Statement

Over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house we go…

Grandmother's House, or Grandma's House, is a really bad film. Supposedly billed as a suspenseful drama/horror mix, this film misses the mark almost completely and is instead a testimony on how to do just about everything wrong. Lacking a scary plot, solid acting, or any suspense, the movie does have one redeeming quality: as bad as the movie is, it's briskly paced.

Facts of the Case

David and Lynn are parentless. Their mother died years ago, and we bear witness to the funeral of their father. Fortunately, the two have loving grandparents who are more than happy to take them into their home, situated on an expansive orange orchard.

Unusual things begin to happen almost immediately as they approach their new home. While on the bus to the orchard, a strange woman, walking alone, stops in the middle of the road, in front of the bus. The bus driver swerves to miss the woman, and continues to the orchard. Once there, the grandparents smother the children with affection, yet the children aren't quite ready to be comfortable in their new surroundings. Later that night, David, using a night vision scope given to him by his father, discovers that the strange woman from the road is now outside in the orchard. Much to his surprise, David witnesses his grandfather killing the woman!

Being a teenager, David doesn't call the police but instead sneaks through the house to learn if he just truly witnessed a murder. As he makes his way to the basement, David finds the woman tied up on a table with his grandfather hovering over her. Slowly, carefully, David inches closer and closer, unable to believe what he is seeing. But he gets too close, knocking some canned peaches off the shelf, alerting his grandfather to his presence. Stunned, the grandfather runs over and confronts David, asking him what he thinks he saw. David pleads ignorance, but that isn't enough. Grandfather brutally stabs David in his stomach. And then David wakes up.

Though the events David thought he saw were nothing more than a figment of his youthful imagination, bizarre things do keep happening at the orchard. With each passing day, David grows more uneasy of his grandparents, and he begins to fear living at the orchard. While David is scared, Lynn is blissfully ignorant of any malfeasance at the house. She's met a cool boy, whom she begins to see. Life, for Lynn, is getting better. But David's trepidation mounts and peaks when he sees the strange woman in the orchard again. And, once again, David believes he sees both grandparents bludgeon the young woman to her death.

What is going on at the orchard? Is David imagining these events, or is there some terrible secret the grandparents are trying to hide? Is this woman real or just a product of David's sadness over losing his parents? Why can't we reveal the ending?

The Evidence

Part of the Nico Mastorakis Collection, Grandmother's House should never have been uncovered from its hidden vault. It is truly an awful film that you would be well advised to skip. In fact, based on the two Mastorakis films I've had the unfortunate honor of watching, I'd advise you to avoid all films from this collection.

I cannot recall a movie that has starred so many untalented people who cannot act. I'm sorry, but the actors in this film should be ashamed for the horrid job they did. I'd chastise each and every one of them by name, but the only one that any of us have probably heard of is Len Lesser, the grandfather, who is more familiar to you as Uncle Leo from Seinfeld. Each character is hideously depicted via limp dialogue, grating accents, silly lisps, unnatural body movements, and an overall disagreeable personality. The most appalling of them would be Kenny, Lynn's boyfriend. Here's the scene where Lynn becomes smitten with the young lad:

It's a warm, sunny day and the grandparents take the kids to a community pool. While David gets involved in a swim match, Lynn swims into Kenny. Kenny, instantly sizing up Lynn as a nice catch, starts up a chauvinistic conversation with her, all the while chewing gum, making blatant sexual innuendos, and obviously scoping out every inch of her body—including a trip underwater to check out those parts too. Even though Lynn says she doesn't appreciate those tactics, Kenny doesn't back off and lunges in for a long kiss. Instead of being appalled by such ignorant behavior, Lynn decides that because Kenny is so fine and such a great kisser, she needs to begin dating him.

There are no redeeming qualities in any of the characters, and most of them are fleshed out in scenes as stupid as the one I just described. Even our eventual hero is a complete loser, and you're just happy when it's all over. But the funny thing is that this thoroughly dreadful film isn't the long, tortuous event it ought to be. The film moves briskly from stupid scene to dumber scene. I was surprised that the ninety minutes didn't feel like an eternity. Perhaps it all stems back to the line, "Please do not reveal the ending." After reading that, I think I had high hopes that something great would happen in the final thirty seconds, as promised. All the lunacy would pay off with a remarkably smart and twisted ending. Nope. The ending is as lame as the rest of the film and does not have a satisfying conclusion that is worthy of being kept secret. Regardless, I shall not ruin it for you, even though you'd better never watch this piece of crap.

Assuming you're a Nico Mastorakis fan, what will you get if you decide to pick up this disc? This "2003 version" sports a cleaned-up anamorphic print that is still a bit weak but not a complete loss. The occasionally inspired cinematography is presented on a transfer that is mostly clean (some scratches and dirt pop up at the end), with an accurate though muted palette, grayish blacks, and an overall soft, grainy look. The film looks like the "B" feature that it is. On the audio side, the menu sports a wide variety of options but most were "unavailable" on my screener, leaving the 2.0 Dolby Digital my only choice. With some intermittent hollow dialogue and overpowering music, the audio track is good enough for this type of film—as there isn't any need for powerful bass or expansive use of the surrounds in the film.

There are a few useless bonus materials on the disc. Possibly the most noteworthy of them all is a 23-minute documentary titled "The Films of Nico Mastorakis, Part II." I was absolutely bored with the featurette, as I have no interest in this man's films. It goes on about how great his "B" movies are and how scary they are (even the comedies!). Scarier is the thought that there is a Part I and a Part III out there too. There's also a trailer for this film, a DVD specification list, and some filmographies and biographies too.

Closing Statement

This is a bad film, one of many in the Mastorakis collection I presume. There is no reason to buy or rent this DVD, though the scene where David is running through the orchard and…well, I don't want to ruin the one scene that gave me a good jump. If you want horror, suspense, or drama, a wide variety of great movies await you elsewhere; this is not the direction you want to look. Anyone interested in buying my copy from me?

The Verdict

Guilty! Nico Mastorakis and Grandmother's House are found guilty and are hereby sentenced to a life sentence of never appearing in public again.

Case adjourned.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 85
Audio: 80
Extras: 20
Acting: 40
Story: 50
Judgment: 55

Perp Profile

Studio: Image Entertainment
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (German)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Italian)
• Greek
• Russian
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 1988
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Bad
• Horror

Distinguishing Marks

• The Films of Nico Mastorakis, Part II
• Trailer
• Filmographies and Biographies


• IMDb

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