Horror House on Highway 6 (2014)
HORROR HOUSE ON HIGHWAY 6
WRITER: Richard Casey
DIRECTOR: Richard Casey
STARRING: Joanna Bartling as Clementine
Sean McCracken as Joe Nick
Brian Papson as Mullet
Misty Madden as Elmira
William D. Caldwell as Dr. Kessel
Alan Ehrlich as Uncle Mac
Phil Therrien as Dr. Marbuse
QUICK CUT: Some folks head up into the California wilderness to investigate the legends of missing people. Sounds dangerous.
Doctor Kessel - A strange man offering his services for medical help, deep in the mountains of California. He’s obsessed with Elvis, and he’s probably not a very good doctor…
Clementine - A student with a trouble past, into filmmaking, and folklore, and very determined.
Joenick - A foreign exchange student who is also obsessed with Elvis, and may be the key to everything…
Mullet - He used to have a mullet.
Elmira - Another student, who has visions when the plot calls for it, and pretty handy with an axe!
Dr. Mabuse - The mad doctor from the original movie returns! Or does he? Doesn’t he??
TRISK ANALYSIS: Welcome back Triskelions! Remember a few years ago, when I reviewed Horror House on Highway 5? An utter mess of a movie, which I actually love because it's half fascinating and half earnestly done? Well, 30 years later or so, they made a sequel. Horror House on Highway SIX. Because that's how titles work.
As with all Trisk reviews since the early days, I always watch the movie first, and then again to take my notes. And fair warning, Triskelions. This movie is a trip. It is an utter pile of batshit that boggles the mind. You have been warned.
We open up with our main players gathering to do a teleconference with their teacher, wanting to know about their upcoming project. The kids have decided to look into the urban legend that is the first movie. You know 'urban folklore' would actually go a LONG way to explaining that mess of a story.
Oh, and the teacher JUST so happens to have a twin brother who lives in the area. That is a very Dickensian coincidence.
Elmira mentions she had a nightmare that ties into their project, and she has a bit of a freakout. Mullet tries to calm her down with butchered quotes, a thing he keeps doing throughout the movie. But hey, he drops in a little Blue Oyster Cult, so I'll allow it.
And oh good lord. You know how some bad movies don't know how to use the camera, so it just sits motionless? Kevin Smith was often guilty of this, especially in Clerks. Static, locked off shots, you know what I mean. Just, zero movement. Highway 6 is guilty of the opposite; too MUCH movement. The camera doesn't just sit on a person's face, it sloooowly sways to the side. It is NEVER stationary, and I'm getting seasick.
We then move to the Horror House, and I almost suspect it is the EXACT same house from the first movie. It looks eerily similar. There, we meet J Dog, waiting on a Doctor Kessel to repossess stuff, as he chats with the doctor's Uncle Mac.
J Dog heads into the basement to try and find the doctor, and we all know things like that never go well. Fortunately. Where would we be if they did?
While he's down there, Uncle Mac and Cheese changes the channel and watches the assault on J Dog, because there are cameras set up all over the basement.
You might assume J Dog dies down there, and I know I sure did on my first viewing. And I'm honestly not sure if he's dead or not. But we'll get into that.
Meanwhile, our victims make their way to Harbinger Last Chance Gas and Gulp, and Lucky fills them in on the lore, including "I heard one story about an ex Nazi rocket scientist living up there,” so yeah, he saw the first movie. Bonus, he was IN the first movie, but more on THAT later too.
While Clementine interviews Lucky, Mullet tries to get a soda, the machine doesn't work, and his arm gets mauled by the racoons living inside it when he goes to reach into it. Oh, and a can somehow flies off the top of the machine and conks Elmira in the head.
Lucky directs them up to Dr. Kessel's, after saying there IS no horror house, so yeah, gotta love folklore. Elmira comes out, and thanks to her head injury she picks up an axe, and threatens Joenick with it, calling him a demon. This will be another thing we come back to.
Everyone tells her to chill, put the axe down, and somehow she gets back into the van next to Joenick without killing him on the way. Sure.
Lucky gives them directions to the house he says doesn't exist, and talks about the time he got a metal rake in his head. Yes, he is THAT guy from Highway 5.
Elmira rambles on about her visions, and a man in a red shirt, which sets off Clementine. Which will be MORE stuff we get to shortly. Oh, and there's also a line about "I don't know what's real or inaginary" that gets tossed out, but that right there? THAT is the crux of the movie.
They arrive at Kessel's place, and Clementine sees Redshirt in the window before he disappears, and oh yeah, J Dog has an exciting new career as a nurse. So he's not dead...I think
Elmira somehow recognises the house for what it is, despite it being an urban legend. Meanwhile, they take note of all the Elvis memorabilia, and mention that Joenick is also a huge king fan. Which is yet another thing we'll get around to in the fullness of time
We finally meet Kessel down in his bomb shelter medical facility, as Mullet is strapped down to a gurney and whalloped on the head with a mallet so they can operate on his arm.
By drilling into his skull. I swear, no one who practices medicine or science in the Horror House knows how either of those work.
"My hand slipped" is the last thing you wanna hear your doctor saying. As he's drilling. INTO YOUR SKULL.
Back upstairs, the other three are killing time, and Clementine tells us about her father who died before she was born, and the only picture she has of him is in the exact red shirt Elmira described. See? We get to these things eventually.
Clementine demands to see how Mullet is doing, and she ends up stuck down in a room that looks familiar from the first movie. Also, J Dog rambles about more conflicting backstories, and how the tunnels are ever changing.
Meanwhile, the other two in the waiting room realise they seem to be stuck and can't get out, until some others arrive, and someone on the tv repeats dialogue endlessly like he's in a Carl Sukenick movie.
Also, despite everyone being in the same room, they are all on separate cameras, and I don't think anyone was there actually together.
Elmira decides to leave through the open door thanks to the new people that arrived, and those two immediately decide to leave with her to get help. Thanks for walking into the movie for all of five seconds, I guess?
Clementine finds the dain bramaged Mullet, who has been reduced to shouting random bullshit that is slightly more random than before, and Clementine continues further to find her dead father.
Outside, the trio get a ride from Uncle Mac to the gas station, and inside, Joenick watches more tv as Kessel shows up on screen to tell more crap about the house that makes almost no sense.
Having listened to enough rambling about Elvis and being trapped in the everchanging house, Joenick heads downstairs, and the rest arrive at Lucky's gas station.
And while we're at the gas station, Uncle Mac grabs an axe and kills them all in 40 whacks. So far, more horror not at the house than in it. But hey! We get to see a hand removal and decapitation, with cheesy CGI blood, so it ain't all bad.
Back at the house, Joenick finds his way to Kessel's office, and the two have a bit of a chat about their mutual love of Elvis. And you might think having Dr. Exposition sitting across from you might have things start to make sense but aaaahahaha, good fuckin' luck.
"I don't know whether I heard these stories, or I made them up" is another key line in this movie. This entire movie is an entire steaming pile of batshit.
After Kessel conks Joenick on the head, Clementine follows her dad deeper into the maze of tunnels, and this movie has seventeen different plots, all of them incomprehensible.
Joenick wakes up on the doctor's operating table, with electrodes now part of his skull. Kessel tells him he has been expecting the man.
Having a drill pointed at him gets Joenick to confess that he comes from Elvis, but he's not Elvis, but Jesse, his twin brother. WHAT THE SHIT WITH ALL THE ELVIS SUBPLOT??
Joenick leads them in a rousing rendition of Amazing Grace, until he can get his hands on a gun and threaten the doctor. A gun he proceeds to not use, the doctor says he is not The Twin, and just walks off.
Our Croation Elvis unbuckles himself, and THAT was surprisingly easy for all the fuss he made about it, and gets dressed.
While Joenick Presley stalks Kessel through the basement, Elmira runs through the woods with Uncle mAxe chasing her. She of course finds herself back at the Horror House, because all roads lead to batshit.
Clementine finally catches up with her dead not dead father, and asks him some questions. None of which are coherent, which is par for the course for this pile of batshit.
But daddy deadest gives her the key to their home, and says it will get her home. Warning, this is a plot point!
He pulls a machete on his baby girl, but Joenick arrives and scares him off with a few bullets. I both know what is going on and have zero clue whatsoever.
J Dog suddenly stumbles back into the plot to make things even more confusing, talking about making viral videos to increase chaos and confusion in the world. Dude. Just release this movie. DONE.
Upstairs, Elmira is just chilling when the guy she was with earlier, who we saw pretty dead, walks in, still kinda alive. And he then professes his love for the girl he just met fives minutes before being killed. Because this is so the time and place.
BUT, Elmira has a plan! First, get the axe away from Mac! Well DUH. But then she says we have to find Joenick and kill him. Why? I don't know! He's on third!!
The first part of the plan goes swimmingly, actually, as Elmira brains Mac with a fire extinguisher, and then slices him into bite sized chunks with the axe.
SO much of this movie is everyone wandering around alone in front of green screens, then put into still shots of the locations. It's bizarre. But far from the most inexplicable thing in this movie.
While Elmira and Hermann wander around the basement, someone randomly shoots them with a shotgun, and they're dead again for the moment.
This...arguably kicks off a third act as Joenick finds the doctor about to operate on Clementine, and the two Elvis fans confront each other.
It all ends for the doctor when Joenick shoots him, and...he ups and disappears. And that's when Elmira and Hermann reappear with the shotgun, to kill Joenick and NONE OF THIS MAKES SENSE.
And if this wasn't all batshit enough, now we get into real batshit territory, as they try and figure out how to escape, and wonder if they're dead. Yeah, I'm wondering that too.
Clementine pulls out her camera, to try and prove their existence. Using two cameras she hopes to corroberate herself, because one camera can be tricked, but not both, and one of them must show the truth.
Break out them philosophy degrees, people, we are in deep thought territory.
Clementine makes way to leave, but everyone else decides to stay, which may be for the best, since they're all probably various levels of not alive at this point.
Mullet draws Clementine a map, which somehow works, and there's also a lot of rambling about seeing people two ways at the same time.
Clementine leaves them to their fates, and stumbles around the basement for a good long while with a whole bunch more weirdness, before finding a stairway up to a cellar door that yes, her father's key works in.
There really shouldn't be nearly 10 minutes left to this movie. But once Clementine is outside, she does her two camera trick again to prove this is the really real world, and gets picked up, I shit you not, by her professor's twin brother.
Look. I've seen the first movie, I know this isn't going to end w...what are you doing, movie?
She sets her two cameras up on the dash, and we watch both streams, until...they diverge. The covnersations are different. And in one camera, she is murdered, in the other she lives, and what the shiiiIIIiiiiiiIIIIIIIIIttttt,
This is the Schrodinger's Cat of movies. Everything is two things at once. Everyone is alive and dead. Everything makes sense and doesn't. ALL AT THE SAME TIME.
And that is how it stops.
Video: It actually looks pretty good, although there is occasional weirdness in front of still images.
Audio: Sounds pretty decent to me, no major comments.
Sound Bite: "Hey, that's my axe!"
Body Count: Uhhhh. I did the best I could here, people.
1 - Eight minutes in, and J Dog is seemingly killed.
2 - Grace Waylon gets axed.
3 - One of the band members gets it next.
4 - And then another
5 - Hermann looks pretty dead, oop maybe not.
6 - Uncle Mac gets axed up
7 - Hermann gets shot
8 - Elmira gets shot too.
9 - Joenick shoots Doctor Kessel.
10 - Joenik gets shot by Elmira who’s not so dead.
11 - Strange guy shot by Clementine
12 - Daddy redshirt dies, appropriately
13 - Clementine gets stabbed in one reality
Best Corpse: Uncle Mac going to pieces gets the win.
Blood Type - D+: There’s a few splats of blood, but most of it is cg or comped in later.
Drink Up! Every time you have to watch the tv.
Video Nasties: Mac’s rampage around the gas station is a highlight.
Movie Review: …How does one review this mess? It’s a pile of headache from start to finish. The plot is light, yet there is 20 of them at once, and none of it makes sense. It’s well enough made, but it’s just such a puzzle box of frustration that it just is impenetrable. Two out of five timelines.
Entertainment Value: This is actually just as tough. I spend too much time shouting WHAT at the screen and in utter befuddlement to actually enjoy this movie, but the more I watch it, the more I like it. Not quite as much, or in the same way, as Highway 5, but in it’s own way. This movie challenges me to like it, to figure it out, and that is a fool’s game. Three out of five Elvis busts.