October 21, 2014

VOD Review: The Houses October Built (2014)

Haunted Houses are an American staple, and come each October, they scare the living hell out of millions of us. They're as much a part of Halloween as are jack-o-lanterns and candy corn. And costumes. And candy. AMC's Fearfest... you get the point.

Given that they are such a large part of our culture (at least for one month a year), it seems like a no-brainer to center a Horror movie around them; how creepy is it to think that a place we go to for some scary fun might actually be full of maniacs that want to end our lives? That's basically making the entire Haunted House conceit a reality, and we're all for it.

The Houses October Built brings that exact premise to life, and for the most part, it does it pretty well.

The Houses October Built is the story of five friends who set out on a road trip to find America's best Haunted Houses; they're thrill-seekers, you see, and only the very best haunted houses will do. They meet an odd and creepy cast of characters at every haunt that they visit, but it's not long before they become bored of the average spook house. When word reaches them that there are "extreme" haunts that exist on an underground circuit of sorts, they foolishly set out to find one.

The more they ask around about these secret "extreme haunts," the more the name Blue Skeleton pops up; Blue Skeleton is supposedly a very underground haunt that constantly moves location, and it's said to be about as extreme as it gets, which makes one wonder just what the word "extreme" is supposed to mean here. As things get creepier and creepier for the group, they receive a cryptic note that tells them to head to New Orleans (NOLA if you nasty) if they want to visit the Blue Skeleton, and it soon becomes apparent that they may be in more danger than they had originally thought...

We won't spoil what happens for you here, because what kind of a jerk spoils the thrills and chills of a Haunted House right before their friends are set to go through it themselves, but suffice it to say that the idiots in this movie probably should have just stuck to the run-of-the-mill haunts, because at least you don't die at the end of those.


For a smaller Indie flick, The Houses October Built ended up being pretty entertaining. It had a bit of a lackluster ending, and some of the things the characters did were nonsensical (as per usual in these types of films), but for the most part, this movie did a good job at maintaining a creepy vibe throughout. How could a movie about Haunted Houses not be creepy? Haunted House are creepy by definition, and when you add to that a "real" story where people get murdered by the Haunted Houses, it all becomes doubly terrifying.

The idea of sinister forces lurking in the shadows at the Haunted Houses that we've all been too with friends or family, is just disturbing. They're supposed to be fun, not deadly! After watching this, we'll be casting a wary eye at every Haunted House worker we meet from now on, and that's a positive testament to just how effective this movie was.

The coolest thing about THOB is how it intersperses real footage of Haunted House/interviews with industry professionals, with the fictional story of the group of friends and their ordeal. There's apparently a Documentary of the same title that came out a few years ago (produced by the same guys), and we're really curious to see it now, because the real footage in this one was almost fascinating to watch. Maybe as a bonus feature on the Blu-ray?

As great as the scenes which took place at the various Haunted Houses were, the "house" at the end was a bit of a let down.

I personally envisioned the group of thrill-seekers being lured to the mysterious Blue Skeleton, and the people who run it being like "Alright, you want the scariest Haunted House experience ever? You got it." You know, like they'd go through a Haunted House and get stabbed, cut, attacked, maybe smacked in the mouth a bit, etc... and that's kinda what we got, but not really.

Just like the characters in the movie did, we really wanted to see what exactly constituted an "Extreme Haunt," but when they finally got there, after all of the creepy build-up, everything ended far too quick, and it all felt a bit anticlimactic. It just wasn't the best payoff for all of the cool things that had come before it.

Why do people in Found Footage movies never say "Screw this, let's just go home?" I know that the whole point of the FF sub-genre is to capture the "real" exploits of people who don't have the good sense to "git while the gittin's good," but it gets really old after a while.

Just once I'd like to see one or two people in a group like this say "Fuck this" and just leave. Gone. They survive the grisly fate of the dummies who stay behind, and are all like "Man, I'm glad we left when we did!" You could even do a video of them at the end, having survived, talking about their friends and their experience. "We sure do miss them... but at least we're alive!"

The Tunnel (2011) (our review HERE) did that "post-ordeal interview" thing extremely well.

There's some violence in this one, but most of it happens off screen. So off-screen were the killings in this movie, that we're not really sure that anyone actually died.

Wouldn't that be a clever twist; leave the victims of the movie beaten, bruised, stabbed, terrified, and _________, and be all like "Hope you enjoyed your extreme haunt!"

There's actually a scene in this one that takes place inside of a strip club, where the dancers are all wearing masks and face paint, so, boobs.

Don't piss off the people who work at Haunted Houses; deep inside they're all disturbed, and will kill you if provoked. This goes double if said haunts are located in the middle of nowhere, run by yokels, and are kept secret because they are too "extreme."

The Houses October Built is an imperfect movie in many ways, but it's also just as effective, in many others. We really enjoyed the hell out of this one, and while it's not as "Halloween Essential" as movies like Halloween or Trick r' Treat are, it's definitely one that we could see getting heavy play come each October. This movie is definitely worth the $6.99 it'll cost you to rent on VOD.

We really do hope they'll include the 2011 Documentary of the same name on the Blu-ray/DVD release as a bonus feature. If so, we'd buy it for sure.


The Houses October Built is available now on VOD.


Here are a few more creepy images from The Houses October Built, because it was near impossible to find good/usable pictures of the hot chicks in this movie.


  1. Im glad u reviewed this film, because Ive had it on the backburner (Ive got ALOT on the backburner as it seems like alot of films came out all at once), but Ive seen alot of bad reviews for this one. As you know, youre my trusted source... And on that note, Ive been meaning to hit u up about another recent release, because, like October Built, Ive seen alot of bad reviews for Extraterrestrial... and because of that, I almost skipped it... but thats not like me, because most of the films I like get bad reviews, which is why im so loyal to your spot... Extraterrestrial was not only enjoyable, it was fucking BADASS!! I dont wanna give away too much in case u havent seen it yet, but the first half has a Slasher feel to it (with Aliens), then it gets really interesting... Its got intense gore, great FX, lots of cannabis, a great color tone and Michael Ironside directed by the Vicious Brothers and even a bit of a surprise ending... I would be EXTREMELY shocked if u didnt enjoy this film, but given how ive come to trust your site, I highly doubt it... Dont pass it up, because I almost did.... another proving of mistrust for the general film critic...

  2. Extraterrestrial is next on our list, along with Housebound! Right after the review for Town That Dreaded Sundown iis finished...

    As for Houses October Built... If you think the trailer looks good, you'll probably like the movie. The ending could have been a bit better in some ways, but it was a pretty enjoyable watch overall.

  3. That doll head mask was the worst.

  4. I've read of people getting motion sickness from watching these found footage films and it finally happened to me with this one - had to watch it in 2 parts. On the Drudge Report there was a story this past week about extreme Halloween haunts in which people pay for the privilege of being bound, gagged, covered with blood, roughed up by folks in scary costumes and generally brutalized. They're very popular. If the movie had been a straight documentary, I would have found it fascinating. If it had been a straight fiction about a group looking for the scariest Halloween haunt, it might have been scary but, to me, this film was unsuccessful in mixing the 2 concepts. The constant whining of the group and their trying to be tough become annoying after awhile. I kept waiting for one of them to say, "I'm out of here," and leave. Being buried alive was handled with much more impact in 'The Vanishing' - original version. For the concept, I give the film makers an 'A'. For the execution a 'C'.
    Can't wait to read your review of 'Housebound' - hell I can't wait to see 'Housebound.'

  5. Yeah I enjoyed this one - & I usually pass on 'found footage' flicks these days.... something about this one though - glad I watched. Agree with you about the ending, rushed or out of $$ maybe?

  6. I honestly believe that most Horror filmmakers have trouble coming up with good endings. Too many movies start out great, and have great build-ups, only to completely lose it in the end. Makes you appreciate the movies with good endings a lot more.

  7. Ok so you saying

    "Don't piss off the people who work at Haunted Houses; deep inside they're all disturbed, and will kill you if provoked."

    Was downright offensive. I have worked at a nationally recognized haunt going on 12 years if I return to work there this year. And there is nothing farther from the truth. All of the actual actors not just scare actors are people that have been doing this for years and take their seasonal job seriously and very professional. And view it as nothing more than what it is. Improv acting that gets the audience involved. And the fact that you j basically just said we are all individuals who are disturbed mentally and will kill you if provoked, is very childish.

    Those "disturbed" individuals you mention are all actually very normal every day people who live and lead normal lives like everyone else you aee walking around, have real regular jobs and careers (more of us have careers) and are pretty much all extremely family oriented people. The rest of the people that work there are generally high school kids. And they are generally the scare actors and startlers. It's mostly adults and those with years of expierence who are the actors that actually have lines and are in charge of/run the show at their part of/event in the attraction. And we are the ones who instruct and monitor the younger kids (scare actors, startlers)

    But as sad as it is to say there are some individuals that do work in this industry and at haunts that actually are disturbed individuals and that do have mental afflictions but the amount of those people are so few and far in between that it is almost rare to see these individuals actually working or employed by a haunt. And those people that actually get hired are usually very closely monitored and observed to the point where we have "secret shoppers" or rather employees who are disguised as a paying customer who goes through the attraction to view and monitor these individuals alone with everyone else who is working in that attraction. Just to ensure that they are correctly doing their job and doing it safely as well as up to the standard that everyone else is required to do their job in order to continue to be employed.

    So you going and saying that about individuals who work at these places in the haunt industry is very ignorant, as well as childish and stereotypical. It also just shows that you have an extreme lack of knowledge when it comes to the actual inner workings and behind the scene workings of these attractions.

    So maybe when you do a review about something like this and you want to go and talk about the people who actually work in a industry that is represented or displayed etc. In a movie, you should or might considder actually talking to or interviewing someone that works in that industry or job role so that you can't actually say something that is true like saying that "those individuals that actually work at haunts are not actually like those that are represented in this fictional film" and not just opinionated ignorant slander and defamation of everyone who works in that industry.

    1. When I wrote that, it was meant tongue-in-cheek, like many things that are written here. I honestly can't believe that anyone took it seriously, let alone got as offended as you did. We make light of things. Like everyone else on the Internet does. Unless you're new on the Internet, you should already know that... especially if you work at a haunt. How can that be your job, and you have absolutely no barometer for sarcasm and dark humor?

      Come on.

      If you should be offended by anything, and you shouldn't, it should be the movie itself, because it actually wanted us to believe that there are HH workers out there who kill people. Which of course we don't, because we're not stupid.