Friday, February 12, 2010

House of Death: Pulse (1988)

After covering Pulse II and showing my intentions to review Pulse III...later, many of you are probably expecting this to be related.  It's not.  Instead, this movie predates the American films and Kairo, the original Korean film.  This is not a case of people stealing ideas, however, just titles.  For argument's sake, I will also mention that there many other films, including a Pink Floyd concert DVD, a 2003 film (aka Octane), a 2006 films (aka Incubus), two short films (one is French) and three different tv series.'  Is that thorough enough for you?  So what is this film about, you ask?  Killer household appliances.  There's a little more to it than that, but not much.  The whole idea is just odd & is one of those plots that you could only get away with in the 1980s.  A film in which aliens come to Earth, cut their hair and turn into future comedic stars?  Why not?!?  Let's check this thing out, shall we?  This is...
The film begins by showing us a dimly-lit house where a husband goes crazy and dies.  All of the people in the cul de sac show up to see the chaos, but nobody finds out anything.  We cut to a young kid (Blossom's Joey Lawrence) showing up in town to meet his dad.  You see, his parents are divorced and living in different states.  He is not too happy with being away from his normal home and wishes that his parents would get back together.  On top of that, the dad is working all the time and not spending time with him.  Good job bringing your kid home to...not see you.  The only bright spot is a kid he runs into which is played by his younger brother.  Note to filmmakers: casting brothers as unrelated characters never works!  The next night, the dad and new wife go to a charity gala and invite the kid, but he would rather stay at home and watch a baseball game.  Hey kid, do you not get what the word 'irony' means?!?  While there, some weird electricity crackles through some miniatures that are supposed to be the house's breakers.  If you like scenes of circuit boards slowly melting, this is your movie!  Weird shit goes down, but manages to stop when the adults get home.  This pushes the kid to look into the story of the other home, while the grass around the house turns brown.  You guys don't notice that at all?!?
The kid breaks into the empty house and discovers that it is full of wet carpeting and broken furniture.  Oh yeah, some freaky old man drops from the ceiling and scares him.  He tells a story about how evil electrical pulses have been causing incidents like this in the past and warns him to leave.  Evil electricity?  That's the best you've got?!?  The kid warns the adults, but they don't buy anything.  Never mind that your appliances are freaking out and bizarre patterns are burning themselves into tapes in your VCR.  They even fail to figure it out when the kids in nearly killed in the garage when the door breaks and a pipe literally splits in half!  Oh and the kid crashes his way through the garage door to escape this Final Destination-style murder attempt.  They finally figure things out when the wife gets trapped in the shower with super-hot, scalding water running.  If only she could have broken the cheap Plexiglas!  The son and dad stay in a neighbor's house, but the dad goes back in to get revenge...or something.  When your whole movie could be ended by people simply moving, you have to be tricky like that.  A whole bunch of crap happens, including pipes bursting and the like.  The kid goes in to help him...because that's a good idea.  They nearly escape together, but the dad dropped his keys while crawling away.  One axe hole later, they escape and the house burns down.  They leave, but, in a closing bit, the evil electricity strikes again...until a kid unplugs his night light.  Way to punk out your own story, film.
This movie is not bad, but it's not that great either.  There are some neat miniature shots and the adult acting is alright.  The bits with the Lawrence brothers...not so much.  I can't be too harsh on kid actors in most cases, but this film relies on him to be the common sense character.  The effects are not bad, although there are very little of them.  Most of it involves setting up Goldbergian deathtraps out of household items.  In terms of being a Poltergeist-rip off, it could have turned out a lot worse.  Of course, I would be even nicer to it if I had realized that I could have just watched it via Hulu instead of actually renting.  It's a decent film and a better bearer of the Pulse name than Pulse II: Afterlife.
Up next, a direct-to-video sequel to a sub-par Kevin Bacon film.  I know- there are so many of them.  Stay tuned...

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