DREAMS IN THE WITCH HOUSE

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Dreams In The Witch House
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DREAMS IN THE WITCH HOUSE - 2005
Nice Guy Productions / IDT Entertainment / Anchor Bay Entertainment
Rating: N/A
FeoNote: If this was a theatrical release, it likely would have got an R for full frontal nudity, full backside nudity, sex, violence, and foul language

When Director Mick Garris started talking about his Masters of Horror series, everyone in the Horror community got to jumping. Mick had amassed directors like John Carpenter, Don Coscarelli, Stuart Gordon, and more. We all waited with baited breath!

Then the first episode aired.

Then the next.

And the next.

I'll offer a caveat here and say that I've met Stuart Gordon on a number of occasions, and he's a really nice guy. Moreover, he directed such outstanding gems as RE-ANIMATOR, FROM BEYOND, DOLLS, DAGON and more.

He's one of my favorite people in the world. But DREAMS IN THE WITCH HOUSE is not one of my favorite movies. It's not even one of my favorite Stuart Gordon movies.

DREAMS IN THE WITCH HOUSE, like many Stuart Gordon films, is written by Dennis Paoli and based on an H.P. Lovecraft tale. In this case, the story by the same name.

The movie opens to a sign that simply reads, Room For Rent. Walter Gordon (Ezra Godden: DAGON), a student at the Miskatonic University, has to practically beg the recalcitrant landlord (Jay Brazeau: Stephen King's IT [TV], MALICIOUS, DREAM MAN, DISTURBING BEHAVIOR, THEY, SPOOK) for a room, but finally gets a crappy one. What can he do? There is nothing cheaper in town and Walter is but a poor undergrad. Walter soon discovers that he has two fellow tenants, the mysterious Mazurowitz (Campbell Lane: NEEDFUL THINGS, ALONG CAME A SPIDER, Stephen King's THE DEAD ZONE [TV], DREAMCATCHER) and the desperate Frances Elwood (Chelah Horsdal: Stephen King's THE DEAD ZONE [TV], THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE). Francis is nice and sweet enough, but she is jobless, has a baby, and is months behind on her rent. She's a tragedy waiting to happen. Walter is attracted to her, in a rather shy way, but he is too consumed by his thesis, his meager wages, grading papers, and his momentary poverty.

When Francis invites him in for tea, Walter tries to explain his thesis, involving string theory and multi-dimensional planes of the universe and, possibly, existence. It makes no sense to Francis, but Walter soon discovers that one corner of his room is nearly identical to the mathematical formula he is working on.

Odd noises, however, attract Walter to his downstairs' neighbor, Maurowitz, who tells him odd things about the house. That night, Walter begins to have his nightmares.

DREAMS IN THE WITCH HOUSE is, arguably, one of Lovecraft's scariest tales. What's more, the main creature of the tale, Brown Jenkin, is one of the scariest varmints. Brown Jenkin is a hideously deformed rat, which talks to Walter in his dreams. What's more, Brown Jenkin is responsible for the most ghastly happenings in the tale. Yet under Stuart Gordon's direction, Jenkin is played for light giggles.

There are no scares to be had in DREAMS IN THE WITCH HOUSE, and it belies the entire idea of what Masters Of Horror should have been. The acting is well done, the house, in which it was filmed, was ripe with creepy, forbidding possibilities, all of which were ignored. Knowing Gordon's past body of work, I'm wondering just how much restriction was placed on him for TV?

The DVD is actually better as the sum of its parts. Besides the movie, which only clocks in at around 57 minutes, there is also a rather enlightening audio commentary with Stuart Gordon and Ezra Godden. Also there is the mostly music video called Behind The Scenes: Dreams in the Witch House, the documentary: Dreams, Darkness, and Damnation: An Interview with Stuart Gordon; an Interview with Chelah Horsdahl; SFX: Brown Jenkin; Stuart Gordon Bio, Trailers, a still gallery, storyboard gallery, and some DVD-ROM goodies. As an entire package, the DVD is worthwhile to any Stuart Gordon fan, as it goes into wonderful detail about the man and his history, with interviews of various past Stuart actors like Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton.

But as a movie, everything Stuart has ever done before this is better than DREAMS IN THE WITCH HOUSE.

2 Shriek Girls.

Shriek GirlsShriek Girls
This review copyright 2006 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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