I thought I’d lighten things up for this particular instalment of the 13 Frights with an animated movie – but then I watched it, and if I, as an adult thought it was pretty twisted in places then the kids have absolutely no hope.
I chose Monster House because it’s been a long time since I saw it and that time had blurred some of the true horror that it embraces. It’s not at out and out nasty as The Corpse Bride, which let’s face it is a tale of necrophila. Yes kids – she’s dead. Cold and dead. And he has the hots for her. Sicko!
So, Monster House. It’s a tale set in October, right around the time of Halloween – and oddly enough, the time I watched it, a couple of days ago. All American neighbourhood, and of course there’s that one house. The run down one. The one that houses a cantankerous old fart who seems to hate kids and confiscates any toy that God forbid should land on his precious lawn. In this case, the scourge of the neighbourhood is Mr Nebbercracker, voiced by Steve Buscemi.
Keeping him under surveillance from across the street is young DJ. DJ knows every toy the mean spirited old geezer ever took. One day, his best buddy Chowder loses his prized basketball to the curmudgeon when it lands on his lawn. DJ tries to recover it, but Nebbercracker rages all the way to an apparently fatal heart attack.
Okay – so far it reads like any cartoon aimed at children, right? Stand by – things are about to take a nasty skewed turn, remember this is a co-production of Robert Zemekis and Steven Spielberg. (Actually, their first co-venture since the Back to the Future trilogy.)
The house is a “Domus Mactabilis” – literally, a deadly home. A living beast created when a human soul is merged with a man built structure. Yeah – Monster House is actually about a house that IS a living monster. It lures its victims in by showing them a glimpse for example, of a kite that was taken from them. The door opens, the floorboards and ceiling timbers rear up like jagged teeth while the hall runner carpet snakes out like Gene Simmons’ tongue and scoops them up.
The only way to kill the house is by killing its heart – which is in this case the furnace – but to do that, DJ, Chowder and a girl they saved from being devoured must enter the house. Disturbing enough, already?
Prepare for more twists.
In the basement, they find a shrine for Nebbercracker’s late wife, Constance the Giantess – a freak show fat lady, who is encased right there in cement. The house wakes up, and attacks them but they escape by grabbing a chandelier in the hallway that they reason must be the monster’s uvula, so it literally vomits them out on to the lawn – where Nebbercracker stands, having been released from the hospital.
The child hating Constance’s spirit lives in the house. One Halloween while she and her husband were building the house, she was tormented by kids, she gave chase with an axe and tripped and fell into the basement, where she was buried in the wet cement, and suffocated. Constance’s spirit seeped into the house and Nebbercracker only pretended to hate kids to keep them safe from his homicidal domicile.
The enraged house now tears itself from its foundation and actually chases the kids to a construction site, where thanks to some dynamite, it meets its end – but boy, what a story.
It’s easy enough to take lightly when it’s a CGI cartoon, despite some imagery like the sun going down and the shadow of the cursed structure entering DJ’s room like a skeletal hand, but imagine if rather than animation, it was films with live actors. You would have a story literally worthy of American Horror Story.
Check it out here.
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