• The House On Tombstone Hill (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: September 25th, 2018.
    Director: James Riffel
    Cast: Mark Zobian, Victor Verhaeghe, Douglas Gibson, Sarah Newhouse
    Year: 1989
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    The House On Tombstone Hill – Movie Review:

    The House On Tombstone Hill is also known under the unfortunate moniker of Dead Dudes In The House (which is how Troma released it as part of their Toxie’s Triple Terror Volume 6 DVD collection) and alternately as The Dead Come Home. The story revolves around Mark (Douglas Gibson) and six friends - Ron (Mark Zobian), Bob (Victor Verhaeghe), Jamie (Sarah Newhouse), Steve (J.D. Cerna), Linda (Naomi Kooker) and Joey (Eugene Sautner) – who all arrive at the massive old house that Mark’s purchased to help him whip it into shape. The place needs some work… a lot of work, really, but it’s huge and he got it cheap.

    Shortly after they settle in, they see an old lady (Gibson, under some creepy makeup) peeking around the corner. They chase her away, or at least they think they do, but soon realize, nope! She’s sticking around and she’s pretty stabby. Before you know it, people are getting killed off left, right and center but then coming back as ‘intelligent’ zombies (meaning that they talk and react as if they’re living). Throw in a girl (Leighann Belair) who may or may not have died in the forties and a few nosy kids and, well, soon enough everyone locked in the house unable to escape with those left alive fighting for their lives.

    This isn’t high on plot but the story works quite well thanks to some absolutely amazing location work. Shot entirely on location in upstate New York, the massive old house goes a long way towards making this low budget picture as effective as it is. Granted, the whole thing does run about ten to fifteen minutes longer than it probably needs to but that issue aside, this is good stuff. There’s a lot more atmosphere here than you’d expect from a film best known as Dead Dudes In The House, and the cinematography, while occasionally less than perfectly polished, does a nice job of bringing that out. On top of that, the movie really benefits from some well-executed gore scenes, some of which are quite strong. There’s a lot of on-screen violence in this picture, and the camera doesn’t shy away from it at all.

    The film’s sense of humor also works well. While, without going into spoiler territory, there are a couple of obnoxious characters in the movie that are really hard to like, the fact is that we don’t need to like everyone here. We like enough of them to invest in the story and can enjoy the others for what they are – and that’s essentially canon fodder. This might not be deep, but it’s pretty damn fun.

    The House On Tombstone Hill – Blu-ray Review:

    The House On Tombstone Hill gets an excellent Blu-ray debut from Vinegar Syndrome with a transfer ‘newly scanned & restored in 2k from its 16mm original camera negative’ and framed at 1.78.1 widescreen. The AVC encoded 1080p high-definition image is a good one, preserving all the grain inherent in the format while at the same time really bringing out a lot of detail in the picture. Colors look great, black levels are fine and skin tones are reproduced with no issues. The transfer is free of compression artifacts or edge enhancement and it doesn’t look like any aggressive noise reduction has been applied here at all. Eagle-eyed viewers might spot some white specks and a small scratch here and there, but odds are if you’re not looking for it you’re not going to see it.

    Audio chores are handled by a DTS-HD Mono track, in English and with optional English subtitles available. While range is understandably limited, the quality of the mix is fine. Levels are properly balanced and there aren’t any issues with any hiss or distortion. The score sounds quite nice here as do the sound effects featured throughout the picture.

    Extras on the disc start off with a featurette entitled Three Dead Dudes that runs just under a half-an-hour in length. This is made up of new interviews with actors Mark Zobian, Victor Verhaeghe and Douglas Gibson and it’s quite interesting. They each talk about how and why they wound up in the picture, what it was like on set, budgetary limitations, the locations that were used for the picture, their thoughts on the story and the overall finished product and more. It’s also fun to hear from Gibson about how he was transformed into film’s geriatric female killer.

    Chris Poggiali provides an audio interview with director James Riffel that lasts for forty-two-minutes. Riffel goes into quite a bit of detail about the project, talking about how the film came to be in the first place, how the locations were secured, the cast’s contributions to the film, the movie’s distribution history and how he got into filmmaking in the first place.

    A large behind-the-scenes still gallery, menus and chapter selection finish off the supplements on the disc. As this is a combo pack release the clear Blu-ray keepcase also holds a DVD version of the movie, taken from the same restoration and containing the same extras as are found on the Blu-ray.

    The House On Tombstone Hill – The Final Word:

    The House On Tombstone Hill gets the release it deserves thanks to Vinegar Syndrome. Seen in a proper presentation, it proves to be an effective mix of horror and comedy with some solid murder set pieces and a genuinely excellent main location. The disc looks and sounds really good, and it contains some decent extras that document the film’s interesting history. Recommended.

    Click on the images below for full sized House On Tombstone Hill Blu-ray screen caps!