The Goofy ’80s Horror Classic With A Night Court Star, Stream Immediately

By Brian Myers | Published


The 1980s was when slasher films dominated the horror genre, with countless films depicting masked or hooded killers inflicting death on semi-clad victims in ways that are as creative as they are brutal. But the decade that brought us Friday the 13th, several installments of the Halloween franchise, and numerous stand-alone B-horror entries, had one film that was able to terrify audiences without gratuitous gore. House (1986) represents a different type of horror fed to 80s audiences, driven by a strong storyline instead of a kill count.

House (Not The Doctor)

House has all the necessary ingredients of a classic horror story right from the beginning. Following the suicide of his elderly aunt, author Roger Cobb (William Katt) moves into her stately mansion. Fresh off a separation from his wife, Roger is hoping to get a fresh start with some needed solitude and time to write his next book.

There’s More To The House Than Meets The Eye


The house isn’t only the site of his aunt’s death. In the months preceding her suicide by hanging, Roger and his estranged wife’s son Jimmy vanished into thin air while the family was visiting. As Roger settles into his aunt’s former home, he is haunted by spectral images of his missing son.

But Jimmy’s apparitions aren’t the only ones plaguing Roger. His aunt appears and gives him an ominous warning about the house. Objects fly off walls to attack him and ghoulish creatures terrorize him. Roger begins to believe that the key to solving the riddle of the house is to delve deep into its interior, in hopes of finding Jimmy and ending the curse that looms over his family.

The Cast

House co-stars Richard Moll of Night Court fame, George Wendt (Cheers), and Kay Lenz.

The film includes one of Katt’s most noteworthy screen performances. His Roger Cobb is flanked by the comedic bumbling of irritating neighbor Harold Gorton (Wendt) and the demonic manifestation of a long-dead Army buddy, Big Ben (Moll). On screen chemistry and tension between Roger and his estranged wife Sandy is also noteworthy, as the couple realistically portray the panic and horror of a couple whose child has gone missing.

A Friday The 13th Director

Watching House, you’ll see that the film has the imagination of someone well versed in bringing horror to the big screen. Director Steve Miner successfully weaves the creepy old house trope with a semi-complicated plotline that follows an unexplained power being able to manipulate the house’s occupants. Miner brings his experiences at the helm of horror films Friday the 13th II and III to the production, trading the slasher antagonist for an invisible one that works through the victims’ emotions and imaginations.

Miner’s eerie tone is perfected by the score of Harry Manfredini (Friday the 13th, The Children), wrought with heavy, atonal string instrumentation that’s a bit reminiscent of Bernard Herrmann. Though House had a low budget (a mere $3 million), the creature effects, sets, and brilliant cinematography are of a caliber that put the film in a much higher class of horror film.

Stream It Now


House was a success at the box office, managing to bring in more than $22 million. Though it didn’t have the cinematic power to drive a bevy of installments like Halloween or Friday the 13th, three sequels followed, with mixed financial results.

I think the creativity of Miner and Manfredini, along with Katt’s performance, are enough to make the film worthwhile.

To learn more about the film, check out GenreVision.

You can stream House for free on Pluto or Tubi, with a subscription on Prime, or rent it on Microsoft, Vudu, or AppleTV.