The Chronicles of Horror Movie Night: ‘Dead Dudes in the House’ (1991)

Posted by Damon Swindall - July 10th 2012 @ 10:00 am

After starting in Washington D.C. nine years ago Horror Movie Night has expanded to include chapters in Austin, Dallas and Chicago. Horror’s Not Dead’s own Brian Kelley is the originator and programmer of this illustrious weekly Wednesday night tradition which features a “classic” horror film. Each week I will be reviewing/commenting on the past week’s selection so do your best to find the film, most of which have not made it past VHS, and follow along. Better yet, start your own chapter!

Awesome New Kids on the Block-esque VHS Cover
This week our HMN feature had some build up based solely on the title. Once we began to watch, though, you could hear the sighs in surround sound. The second that opening Troma title card popped up it brought most watchers’ spirits down. Sometimes with this company, it’s a total crapshoot. They will release pretty much anything, and this goes for the stuff they film in-house as well. Still we remained hopeful and were treated to a fairly decent, but kind of boring, zombie tale with Dead Dudes in the House.

A group of eight friends head out to a remote home one of them buys as a fixer-upper. They soon see the large place needs a great deal of work, but nothing prepares them for the what awaits inside. Not long after arriving a tombstone is knocked over awakening the soul inside, a woman named Annabelle who killed her husband many years earlier. Now she is out to kill each one of them, but there’s a catch. Once you’re killed in this house, you don’t stay dead. Instead the corpses get up and strive to help Annabelle eradicate the others.


Before watching the film, two of us in the Dallas chapter had alternating thoughts on what the title implied. ReelDistraction felt it eluded to something of urban horror (maybe akin to Tales from the Hood), while I was expecting a surfer zombie flick. Well, we were both wrong, though I think we should write both of our ideas because they could be fun. Maybe they would turn out even better. I digress. Instead of thugs or surfers, we got a bunch of random white people all hanging out doing white people things. Renovating homes is a very white person thing to do.  A few chuckles caused by the group’s bickering and a Denis Leary look-a-like kept me entertained, but it quickly gets repetitive and boring.

Luckily once the old woman zombie/ghost shows up things get a little more exciting. Partially because there is quite a bit of death, but mostly because instead of an old woman it is obviously a dude in some not-too-convincing old age make-up. In fact, it’s the Leary doppelganger under the prosthetics! The ladyboy’s voice is dubbed by a woman but the movements, and even face, is unmistakably male.

All is forgiven when dear Annabelle begins dispatching the “dudes”. Her style is quite impressive and the body count is filled with some inventive things. Whether scissors are being used, saw blades, a pole, or even a closing window (!) it assures that whenever someone dies it’s not going to be dull. Lack of variety can be problem with horror films, but this is one of the few things Dead Dudes gets right – and there’s a lot of it! Not only does the majority of the eight person crew bite it, but there are a couple of random characters even brought in just to add to the death toll. That’s one way to please the horror fan.

Creepy, manly Annabelle

Then, on top of the regular death of all those who succumb to Annabelle or her minions, most of them die a second time as zombies. On one hand this is fun because it makes more death onscreen, but it’s a bitch when it comes to a tally like I do for this post and my year-end kill video. I’m going on record as saying I’m only counting first deaths, not the zombie version. Deal with it.

One of the most hilarious aspects of this movie is how many doors and windows confounded the group. Once inside the house, the spirit of Annabelle forced them to remain in by slamming doors in their faces and making the windows impenetrable. The great eight didn’t get this though and would constantly try to break the glass or beat down the doors to no avail. This happens so much that it could become a pretty effective drinking game. If I ever watch this again it will have to be tried, and I encourage you reading this to do the same. Drink every time someone is thwarted by a door or window.

If you feel so inclined to watch this, it’s readily available from Troma either on a disc by itself or on a double/triple features collection that they put out showcasing some of the things they buy. I can’t fault you for wanting to see it, and it IS fun at times, just be warned – things get quite repetitive and it can be pretty boring, Seeing a saw blade in someone’s skull is always fun, though.

Until next week – I leave you with a link to the video for King Diamond’s “Welcome Home”. I kept thinking of this song and concept album the entire time. Falsetto metal FTW!
Body Count: 11
First Death: 55 seconds into the Prologue
Best Death: Bisected by some real Window Pain
Number of Damned Doors and Windows: 9+

Coming soon to Horror Movie Night (Chronicles are posted one week after screening):
-7/4/12: Don’t Go in the Woods… Alone! (1981)
-7/11/12: Don’t Panic (1989)
-7/18/12: Don’t Go in the House (1980)
-7/25/12: Don’t Open till Christmas (1984) Christmas in July!

Brain Damage?

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