Houseboat Horror (1989)

Director Kendal Flanagan, Ollie Martin
Writers Ollie Martin
Starring Alan Dale, Christine Jeston, Craig Alexander, Des McKenna, Gavin Wood, John Michael Howson, Louise Siversen, Peppie D'Or
Genre Slasher
Tagline Something is about to happen on Lake Infinity!!

Talk us through it

A film crew is heading out to the secluded Crystal Lake Infinity in order to shoot a video for a pretty bland rock band. We know they are a rock band because they carry their instruments everywhere, act in hilarious crazy fashion, and play complete dross musically. For no apparent reason the Director has hired a couple of house boats and has the whole circus out on the Lake taking shots from various completely dull locations. Pretty much what you would expect from a Guy Sebastian video clip really.

Unfortunately the budget for this rock and roll epic is likely to blow out as Jason some psycho named improbably "Acid Face" is using various sharp instruments and a horseshoe to dispatch anyone disturbing the pristine wilderness of Crystal Lake Infinity, or shooting a video there, or simply pissing him off, the script chops and changes on the exact motivation as required. Just keep in mind, horribly disfigured maniac on the loss with various sharp objects, think Danni Minoque after her latest single has tanked.

Seems before current events a group of camp councillors another film crew was at the Lake and something went drastically wrong. A young boy was char boiled in a freak fire, or it could have been a full grown man judging from the flashbacks, anyways this appears to have something to do with the rising body count in the present.

OMG it's an Aussie slasher, lets cut it up and see what drips out.


"Brings back memories of those movie killing a few years ago ..." - Gas Attendant

Houseboat Horror is one of those legendary Aussie dark genre movies that are talked about in whispers late at night around camp fires but which few have actually seen in the wild. There's a real good reason for that, and I'll get to it shortly. I employed my full resources in tracking down a copy, it proved to be pretty elusive, but I finally managed to corner one on eBay of all places. Strangely I was the only person who bothered making a bid, so at $5 dollars I was thinking I had just got off the bus in Bargain City, where the grass is green and the girls are pretty, how wrong I was. Ladies and Gentlemen I present for your edification a front runner for the title of "worse Australian horror movie" ever made. Yes this one makes Cut look like it should have won AFI awards.

Clearly Houseboat Horror has been heavily informed by the various adventures of the Voorhees clan, but it does have a few oddities that will help you get through the running time and share awful "B" grade feel of the whole thing. The film was the first Aussie movie to be shot as a "video horror offering", i.e. it's cheap with a general lack of talent, in one scene a dude is actually about to put on a condom (safe sex message there kids), and in perhaps the only ever filmatic presentation, death by horseshoe! And just when you are wondering what other delights the movie makers may have inevitably included, the DVD cover pronounces to a disbelieving Audience that the film will feature "KNOCKOUT BRIAN MANNIX song hits". Well I was excited, or at least would have been if I had of known who the hell Brian Mannix was. Judging from the couple of "song hits" we get, a whole bunch of other viewers are also going to have trouble placing who this troubadour of disaster is. But hey how many movies had the misfortune to feature Brian Mannix songs? I'm thinking the total would be somewhere in the vicinity of none.

Unfortunately for fans of Houseboat Horror, we know where the two of you live in Adelaide so don't be sending nasty emails, there's a boat load of issues with the movie that may impact on general enjoyment. I really didn't know or care about any of the Actors, it's paper thing charactisation day at the petting zoo folks, so really didn't bother taking in the grandeur of talent available. There's that overly camp gay guy who keeps getting overly camp roles in Oz movies (no it's not Bob Downy), Animal from the resident band of that Saturday night show with the Ostrich, and for Neighbours fans Jim gets to drop a couple of f-bombs, bet you don't get that going down on Ramsay Street. The rest of the cast simply devolve into this 1980s overly coffered hair blob of bad acting and over dramatic looks.

I got to say they don't stint on the kills in Houseboat Horror, and if it wasn't for the cheese covered special effects then there might be a few more people down in Adelaide attending the yearly film screening in the back room of the Barrelled Bank Hotel. The Directors, no one wanted to take sole responsibility for this epic fail it would seem, have clearly deduced that a slasher requires a murder every ten minutes or so, and one with some artistry in the execution. I'll wait till you get past sniggering at the pun okay that was only funny to me right?

The lasting impression that this movie will have on you is that you have seen the worse Australia has to offer, it can only get better from here.

Houseboat Horror actually starts pretty decently and takes time to setup it's first murder. A group of film crew types are tooling along in their kombi van and decline to pick up a creepy looking dude hitching a ride. Strangely Writer Ollie Martin seems to be trying to lay some red herrings on us and muddy the waters as to who our resident psycho may be, later we get a park ranger with real issues about forest preservation. Unfortunately for Ollie Martin the effort wasn't really worth it as the movie isn't involving enough to have the Audience trying to figure out who's on the other end of the machete. Anywise our kombi team do stop to pick up a perky young female hitcher who is on her way to the Lake for some "hide the sausage" action with her car-less boyfriend. Clearly perky girl isn't long for the world.

Just a sidenote and we'll get back to perky hitcher girl. Houseboat Horror is happy enough to wear it's Friday the 13th colours on it's sleeve, i.e. the movie makers are not good enough to hide their influences, and this is as good a place as any to point out the, uhmm, homages. Clearly perky girl is a direct descendant of Annie from the first Friday film, you know the victim who is going to the camp to cook the meals and who doesn't like the term "kids". At a stretch you might also be reminded of the jeep "load of idiots" in the fourth Friday epic who decline to pick up the weight challenged girl who unfortunately then decides to eat a banana way to close to Pamela Voorhees final resting place for her own good.

Back to the meat and three veg, after an interlude where perky hitchhiker girl gives an Annie, from the first Friday film, style speech she is dropped off at the side of the road to continue her quest for amorous encounters in nature's backyard. Well okay she wants a root and can't spring the cash for a Motel room, happy now that you have taken all the romance out of the occasion? Perky, I feel we should be on first name basis by now, finds her boyfriend's camp and also discovers that she may not be getting any this weekend as Acid Face has been cleaning house, uhmm, Lake Infinity style. Admittedly a half competent Director would have got a lot more tension out of the scene, but it's still working for the audience, especially when we discover that the murder went down not that long ago. Of course the light bulb goes on for Perky and pretty soon she's sprinting off through the woods, with a lumbering Psycho hot on her heels. If only she hadn't stop to check where her stalker was it could have ended so much better for Perky. ScaryMinds salutes Perky, we only knew her briefly, but her single minded quest for a good porking is to be admired.

Having established itself via a pretty decent opening, Houseboat Horror then rapidly capsizes and sinks without much waving for help going down. The plot is completely unoriginal, the resident Psycho doesn't have any screen presence, and the pace is so unrelentingly sombre that you are left wondering when the end credits might finally come up to put the movie out of it's misery. For those that like a high body count and cheesy gore effects, dive in there's something in there for you.

To describe whatever the hell Kendal Flanagan and Ollie Martin are doing behind the camera as Directing in any shape or form is an insult to anyone who has ever called "action" and actually known what they were doing. Not surprisingly we do get a boom mike invading the screen in one scene, always a highlight for yours truly, and your static single angle camera shots.

Unfortunately I cannot comment on the acting ability of anyone in this movie by name, as I couldn't remember who was meant to be whom. Overall it's pretty depressing really, with no "discoveries" being made. When you have a bunch of people running around houseboats and the bush with no lead character than there's not much to hang your hat on really.

No T&A folks, there really is no saving grace to this movie.

Brian Mannix provided the sub standard score that manages to be just as drab as the visuals. The original songs were a new form of torture and should be banned for contravening various U.N sanctions against torture.

Summary Execution

On the bright side of the lake I can now at least claim to have seen Houseboat Horror, while still trying to erase all knowledge of the movie from my mind. It's an absolutely hideous cinematic experience that should never ever be repeated, or mentioned in polite conversation for that matter. I spent the entire running time of the movie wondering how on earth they managed to get distribution for this episode in the inane.

You may find it hard to get your hands on the movie as huge sections of the Australian Distribution market deny all knowledge of it or claim the only copies they had were destroyed in a warehouse fire caused by a carelessly thrown cigarette butt. We can only pray that Houseboat Horror didn't leak to the International markets, there's reputations to be concerned about here. As of writing there are surprisingly no plans to remake the movie. And I would have thought Platinum Dunes would be all over this one.

Avoid like the plague, it really doesn't get much worse than Houseboat Horror. There's nothing to be taken from the movie, you'll feel better about yourself if you never see it, and there has to be a morning after. Houseboat Horror should sink without trace for the good of the Australian film industry.

ScaryMinds Rates this movie as ...

Simply a waste of time, I like "B" grade schlock but Houseboat Horror doesn't even reach that level of cheese filled goodness.