OPEN HOUSE (1987) Reviews and overview

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‘People are just dying to get in!’

Open House is a 1987 American horror feature film written and directed by Jag Mundhra (Hack-O-Lantern aka Halloween Night) from a screenplay co-written by David M. Evans. It was produced by Sandy Cobe (To All a Good Night; Home Sweet Home; Terror on Tour). The movie stars Joseph Bottoms, Adrienne Barbeau, Mary Stavin and Rudy Ramos.


A teenage girl who was molested by her father calls David Kelley (Joseph Bottoms), a radio psychologist working for KDRX, and shoots herself on the air.

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Later, a female real estate broker shows off a house to prospective buyers, and discovers the decomposing remains of another realtor in the washroom, the fourth victim of a psychopath dubbed the “Open House Killer”.

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Outside Grant Real Estate, which David’s girlfriend Lisa (Adrienne Barbeau) runs, someone digs through the trash, and takes discarded Seller Listings. A vagrant (Darwyn Swalve) goes to one of the listed houses, and murders the realtor and buyer inside with a plunger that has had razor blades attached to it. The Open House Killer (who gives his name as “Harry”) then calls David at KDRX, and opines that his victims deserved their fates…

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“Despite a few cheesy flourishes, Open House is a snoozer of the first order. Far too much time is spent on a feud between Grant and her odious nemesis (an admittedly spirited performance by Barry Hope, who just oozes sleaze) and the lengthy segments dedicated to the romance between Grant and Kelly that would have been better suited in a light romantic comedy.” Hysteria Lives

“The scenes with psycho Darwyn Swalve dragging women about and chaining them up before killing them are unpleasant. Moreover, the scenes are dully directed, flatly photographed and fail to generate any suspense. The script also has a huge gap in plausibility…” Moria

“The main problem with this film is that director Jag Mundhra seemingly didn’t know what the hell he was doing and/or didn’t bother sitting with his editor at any point. Not only is the movie sinfully boring, but there are at least three shots during separate kill scenes that go on for so long…” Horror Movie a Day

“After an interesting opening that sets up a potent contrast between have-alls who buy and sell Beverly Hills homes and the dog-food-eating killer, the film relies heavily on secondhand business like the phone-trace stunt from Black Christmas (1974) … Barbeau, slumming somewhat, gives better than is really required.” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror

“It’s certainly an interesting premise, and given a bit more polish Open House could have become a bigger slasher in the genre. But an unclear killer motive and a disappointing killer reveal plague the film. It mimics the beautiful exterior of a house that’s been gutted on the inside, although some might see a fixer-upper.” Ryne Barber,

“Overlong and lacking in suspense, Open House is a pretty dull affair. Padded out with endless scenes of Bottoms talking to wacko callers on the radio and Playmate-calender-type agents showing houses, the film merely grinds its gears until the next bloody killing. The gore effects are poorly done and the camera lingers on the nasty goo far too long.” The Horror Film, CineBooks

“This movie covers all the exploitation bases. The killer (a big guy wearing a duster) slices women up with razorblades on a stick. Barbeau has another topless scene, a woman goes for a nude swim before being decapitated, and there’s a dumb S&M comic scene. It’s one of those movies where characters keep acting as if nothing has happened even after several coworkers have been killed.” Michael J. Weldon, The Psychotronic Video Guide

“Despite some genuinely amusing scenes (mostly intentionally comic ones between agent and buyer), this is a real clunker that wears out its welcome pretty quickly. There’s zero suspense, no scares, highly variable acting, some pretty awful dialogue and the whole thing is poorly paced and schizo with its tone.” The Bloody Pit of Horror

“Overall Open House plays like the script had been passed around town for years until someone dusted it off and said “Instead of treating this like a police procedural film we’ll instead emphasize blood, gore and boobs and treat it like a slasher film! Those are really popular right now!” I’m serious about that theory by the way.” Balladeer’s Blog

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The film has a lot of talking, but it’s mostly pretty generic. The kills are… fairly-inspired, but that’s about it. Some of them are good, others are not. This movie just doesn’t inspire all that much interest. Hell, I kept cutting back and forth to it over a three-hour period. I tried, but… yeah.” Mondo Bizarro



Choice dialogue:

Harry: “Listen to me, you smart @ss. All these little uppity real estate bitches are just askin’ for it anyway. You got that? So what’s the problem, huh? They deserve it, huh?”

Cast and characters:

Joseph Bottoms as Doctor David Kelley – The Intruder WithinThe Sins of Dorian Gray; Blind Date
Adrienne Barbeau as Lisa Grant – The Fog; Swamp Thing; Creepshow
Mary Stavin as Katie Thatcher – HouseHowling V: The Rebirth
Rudy Ramos as Rudy Estevez
Scott Thompson Baker as Joe Pearcy – Rest in Pieces
Darwyn Swalve as Harry
Robert Miano as Detective Arnold Shapiro
Page Moseley as Toby
Johnny Haymer as Paul Bernal
Leonard Lightfoot as TJ
Barry Hope as Barney Resnick
Stacey Adams as Tracy
Roxanne Baird as Allison
Tiffany Bolling as Judy Roberts – The Centerfold Girls; Kingdom of the Spiders
Dena Drotar as The FanScreen Shot 2016-07-05 at 11.23.46
Cathryn Hartt as Melody
Christina Gallegos as Pilar Hernandez
Lee Moore as Donald Spectre
Stephen Nemeth as Tommy
Joanne Norman as Agent #1
Richard Parnes as Lenny
Sheila Ryan as Ellen
A. Gerald Singer as Captain Blake
Bryan Utman as Policeman
Susan Widem as Policewoman
Eddie Wong as Mr Yoshida

Filming locations:

Los Angeles, California

Technical details:

95 minutes


In the US, the film was released on VHS by Prism.


In 1987, the British Braveworld VHS release was cut by 1m 18s by the BBFC censorship quango.

Film Facts:

This movie should not be confused with Open House (2010) or The Open House (2018).


Don’t Answer the Phone!


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