I admire a film series so determined to have no continuity that when they bring the star of the first film back for the fourth, and even give him the same name, they make his character completely different – not the same backstory, family or house. Sean S Cunningham, I salute you.
William Katt returns as Roger Cobb, and this time he’s inherited a house from his parents which has a weird Native American power symbol in the basement. His grandfather made a blood oath to the local tribe to keep the house standing (it’s on its own in the middle of the desert, from the camera angles we can see), his father honoured it and Roger intends to honour it too. Roger’s fedora-wearing douchebag step-brother tries to claim ownership, as he’s obviously got some mob ties or owes someone a heck of a lot of money and the land the house is on is prime toxic dump material, very valuable to the right scumbag company.
The film really kicks into gear when Roger dies in an auto accident near the beginning. Well, I say kicks into gear, and therein lies the first problem. This film’s not really a horror film, if we’re being honest – and sadly it’s definitely not like a comedy film, as the first two were. It’s a drama, with an “Amityville Horror” vibe, as Roger’s wife Kelly (Terri Treas) and her now wheelchair-bound daughter decide to move into the house but the house seems to not want them there. There are moments where they try for comedy but it feels like comedy written by someone in a deep depression – you can see the spaces where the jokes might have been, but it’s just not there at all.
Terri Treas was great in “Deathstalker 3” as the super-hot villain’s assistant, but in this she’s just like a million other sorta dowdy boring Mom characters. A character we did like, though, is the maid / helper for the daughter, Verna, who clearly knows more than she’s letting on. But when she’s first introduced she just walks into the house, another example of this bizarre behaviour. Especially in a country that loves guns as much as the USA does! Knock and wait, you rude assholes!
It’s just not that good a film, sadly, and represents a rather disappointing low point and ending for a series which was occasionally great. Taps that shoot blood, pizzas that turn into the face of your dead husband, a few other moderately gross scenes…these can’t compete with inter-dimensional portals, demons and the fun stuff Roger in part 1 and Jesse in part 2 had to deal with.
Rating: thumbs down