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Spooky House (2002)

3 Beers

Video: 3 Beers

Audio: 3 Beers

Special Features: 3 Beers

Arriving just in time for a quarantined Halloween, Spooky House has re-opened its doors for all the kiddos to delight in!  While not my favorite Halloween film, this quirky comedy does have some laugh out loud moments thanks to a skeleton on a toilet and his magazine reading material. 

There are two paths you can choose to go through when it comes to entering the open doors of Spooky House, a low budget independent movie from 2002.  Most people choose the one that gets them out of the house as quickly as possible as this kids’ movie is quite ridiculous with a number of audible groan-worthy moments.  My friends, you should be warned.  If you have kids in the house, your battle against this flick is doomed: the kids are going to love it.  

And there’s a good reason for it.  This movie, if you aren’t totally unnerved by the sped-up chase sequences and the low ambitions established early on, will sucker you in with its beyond sweet tale of a retired magician’s reemergence into the world via a gang of nosy kids as they turn to his particular brand of magic and illusions in order to fight off those that would do them harm. And it all comes to a head on a Halloween night.

Winner of 2000’s Chicago International Children's Film Festival, Spooky House, warts and all, is incredibly likable thanks to its offbeat energy and its dedication to its own inanity.  Even if it is fed from a predictable script and a whole lot of cornball moments, the film somehow STILL manages to win over its adult audience members with an ending that pays off that incredibly weird opening, bringing everything full circle.  

And the kids will have no complaint about it either.

Spooky House, directed by William Sachs and co-written with Margarette Sachs, is definitely NOT for everyone.  This family film, managing to achieve cult status thanks to its many loopy moments, stars Ben Kingsley as The Great Zamboni, a magician who has long since retired out of the public’s eye after the sudden disappearance of his wife in a freak accident.  All he has left of his fame is a creepy old house, some gags and illusions, and a pet jaguar.  Oh, and he still wears his turban and his fake swirly mustache when he goes out to get groceries.  

It’s a quiet life and that’s how he likes it in this seaside town.  That is until the day Max (Matt Weinberg) enters his life and, thanks to a series of scares in Zamboni’s house, manages to draw him out of his shell of an existence to help the kids in their time of need, but will he be there when Max really needs him? 

Max and his friends Yuri (Jason Fuchs), Beans (Ronald Joshua Scott) Prescott (Simon Baker) and Zoe (Chaz Monet) are being bullied by Mona (Katharine Isabelle), Mike the Mouth (Myles Ferguson), and Dumb Dave (Kyle Labine).  These three hooligans work for an evil woman by the simple name of Boss (Mercedes Ruehl) and they are forever stealing the gang’s goat and generally being idiots to Max’s friends.

When Zamboni decides to help them, he does so hesitantly.  In doing so, he learns something about himself . . . and about his missing wife as his house is turned into a fun-filled frightmare for all the bullies and their boss.

Quirky and stupidly entertaining, Spooky House makes for a delightful afternoon of seasonal viewing.  The kids will love its harmless shenanigans and, perhaps, the kid buried deep inside of you will find it sweet and satisfying, too.

Spooky House is now on blu-ray thanks to Unobstructed View. Magic is real!

Blu-ray Specifications:

Ben Kingsley plays the Great Zamboni, a magician with a mysterious secret. He lives alone with his jaguar, Shadow, in the Spooky House, an old mansion rigged with magic tricks and hidden chambers. In spite of all the urban legends about the reclusive Zamboni, young orphan Max believes he can befriend him. His attempts to charm the magician, however, are met with stubborn resistance. As Max and his friends try to uncover the secret of Zamboni's past, they are harassed by a trio of teenage bullies who work for the town's eccentric crime queen. When the bullies chase the kids into the Spooky House on Halloween, a night of hilarious magic and spectacular illusions ensues. The blu-ray, offered from Unobstructed View, is loaded with interviews and music videos.

Video:

With an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, Spooky House opens its doors to HD with crisp results.  Blacks and shadows are solid, making the “haunted” house aspect of the movie work.  And, thankfully, the full autumn effect is solidified with deep reds and golden oranges. Texture and fine detail are both present and colors are properly saturated. This film isn’t a looker by any stretch of the imagination and its low budget is more noticeable in HD, but fans shouldn’t be too concerned.

Audio:

The magic happens thanks to a solid Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.  Don’t crank it, though, there are limitations and the songs in the movie are super cheesy. 

Commentary:

None.

Special Features: Fans of the feature are going to like that there are three interviews with the most recognizable faces in this film: Ben Kingsley, Mercedes Ruehl, and Katharine Isabelle.  There are also music videos and a trailer.

Ben Kingsley Interview

Mercedes Ruehl Interview

Katharine Isabelle Interview

8 Music Videos

Trailer

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