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Review – The Halfway House (2004)

November 13, 2008

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Just a quick one today: keeping it brief, Larissa Morgan (Janet Tracy Keijser), who’s lost her sister, reports it to cute cop Dick Sheen (Shawn Savage).  Richard opines that a halfway house near where Larissa’s sister disappeared may have had something to do with it, but he has no hard proof.  Spunky Larissa volunteers to go undercover at the smarmy halfway house, dealing with the pervy Father Fogarty (Joseph Tatner), creepy Sister Cecilia (Mary Woronov) and her equally creepy minion Lutkus (Cleve Hall), a bunch of grindhouse-style lesbians, and, incidentally, one of Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones (whom isn’t really mentioned*).

I liked the way writer/director Kenneth J. Hall used the “women in prison” trope he learned from working for folks like Roger Corman and fused it with a LOT of sex. Seriously – this is one of the more explicit hard-R films I’ve seen. (No, they don’t show the fisting (to name one instance), but it’s absolutely clear that’s what’s going on.) He also has the best way I’ve seen to put some interest into what might be otherwise seen as boring exposition – have the principals do the exposition while making with the ficky-ficky! Genius! 

I also have to give him credit for doing the monster practical (when I heard him speak at the Madison Horror Festival, he said he had a background in creature fabrication, one of his standouts being the monster in Carnosaur).

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I do think that he should have done some slow-motion of the thing to make it look bigger, but hey, hindsight’s always 20-20 right?  I’m not sure what that symbol on Woronov’s headpiece is supposed to be though – sure doesn’t feel Cthuloid to me.**

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He also said he shot this with an early DVX-100 – the quality held up just fine on the DVD.

Recommended if A) you likes your Corman-era women in prison films or B) you feel like a little Lovecraft that night.

* And as an aside – why don’t they ever name the Old Ones who are appearing in a Lovecraft-inspired movie?  Hall name-checks Arkham, Miskatonic U, the Necronomicon, Lutkus’ first two names are Charles Dexter – why be shy at naming the feature attraction (after the sex of course)? Don’t get me started on “how Alhazred never wrote it, but a bunch of Sumerians did” either…

** And is “Cthuloid” a word, even?

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