AMERICAN GOTHIC (1987) Reviews and overview

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‘The family that slays together stays together’

American Gothic is a 1987 Canadian-British horror feature film written by Burt Wetanson and Michael Vines and directed by John Hough (Twins of EvilThe Legend of Hell HouseIncubus). The movie stars Rod Steiger (The Amityville Horror), Yvonne DeCarlo (The Munsters) and Michael J. Pollard. It has also been released as Hide and Shriek and Dark Paradise

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A group of prosperous young people plan a camping trip in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, but they are forced to make an emergency landing on an isolated island.

They end up staying at a house run by the old-fashioned Ma (Yvonne De Carlo) and Pa (Rod Steiger), an elderly couple who seem to have stepped out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Little do the group know that Ma and Pa are also the heads of a vicious serial killing family…


The poster and all other related media art were based on Grant Wood’s famous painting by the same name. The British VHS cover art was supplied by Graham Humphreys.


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Reviews [may contain spoilers]:

“A crazy movie with a few interesting twists and turns along the way, American Gothic is an odd, eccentric motion picture that, while not the most frightening horror film you’ll ever see, is just creepy enough to linger in your mind for a while afterwards.” 2,500 Movies Challenge

“I was constantly entertained by the exploration of the American family in this movie and at times was reminded of Spider Baby or some of John Waters films. If you don’t take it too seriously there is a lot of fun to be had here.” Horrorphilia

American Gothic grows to be so weirdly endearing that it almost feels like a challenge. How could a movie that features a mother grieving the loss of her baby possibly be entertaining? Well, you’d be surprised—and perhaps even more surprised that the answer somehow involves more dead babies. Trust me on this one.” Oh, the Horror!

“Overall this is a pitiful attempt at horror movie making. It fails to be either offbeat or scary and only succeeds at becoming mind-numbingly sterile.” Scopophilia

“While avoiding the usual slasher movie pitfalls, American Gothic is interesting to say the least; well acted and pleasantly diverting from what would’ve been had they run into Jason or one of his Xeroxes, though we must wonder why, once they realised how ‘not normal’ their hosts were, they didn’t just camp out by their plane until it could be fixed. Entertaining stuff…” Vegan Voorhees

If you can push aside your pity for the career lows of DeCarlo and Steiger (Steiger speaks his lines in a slow twang that personifies boredom), you may enjoy this little flick for its outright silliness and twist end.” Videohound’s Complete Guide to Cult Flicks and Trash Pics

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Wood’s Original Painting

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Cast and characters:

Sarah Torgov … Cynthia
Terence Kelly … Psychiatrist (as Terry Kelly)
Mark Erickson … Jeff (as Mark Ericksen)
Caroline Barclay … Terri
Mark Lindsay Chapman … Rob
Fiona Hutchison … Lynn
Stephen Shellen … Paul
Rod Steiger … Pa
Yvonne De Carlo … Ma
Janet Wright … Fanny
Michael J. Pollard … Woody
William Hootkins … Teddy
Steve Oatway … Dead Paul


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