Saturday, October 25, 2014

Boardinghouse (1982)

Warning: it's probably easier to explain Finnegan's Wake and Sein und Zeit combined than to properly explain Boardinghouse.  The movie starts off strong by informing you that you'll be warned before scenes of horror, a fine throwback to the gimmicks of fifties horror.  Of course, it never actually gives you the warnings it promised once the film starts.  Bait-and-switch is also very fifties, although I'm sure it's accidentally done here.


After this lying prologue, there's another prologue in which someone reads a barely-visible narrative off of a computer screen, like the computer was filmed in a crypt.  Then, death.  A girl nurse is compelled to hang herself and a boy nurse gives birth to his own intestines.  We don't know what's happening, really, but it has something to do with this old house or something?  IDK.  If you are afraid of being confused, this will be a frightening film for you.


The guy who inherits the house is this guy, our leading man, Jim.  Here he is practically naked on his desk.  You're welcome, all two women who visit this site.  Jim is deeply into mysticism and such.  At one point, a lady complains that he's just not physical because "he's too into metaphysics".  Boardinghouse thinks metaphysics means staring at a plant until it has an epileptic seizure and making soap move around a tub using only your mind.


Since it's a big house, Jim posts an ad inviting hot chicks to come live there.  Naturally, a bunch of them do.  Like a sitcom, the movie never shows us what any of these people do for money.  The closest we get is one of the girls bitching about her actress auditions.  We do get repeated shots of women falling into water while wearing sheer clothing, though.


You are very smart and so you are thinking that this sounds like a porno movie.  And you have scored a point, that is sort of correct!  Boardinghouse was made by porno producers, apparently after they saw how much money low-budget horror could generate.  This has distinct porno tinges, with its ridiculous plot moving us in the direction of sex and then cutting away just before penetration occurs.


There's lots of breasts and butts and French kissing, but there's also gory death.  Caused by the house?  Maybe?  Sometimes this is noticed by the characters and sometimes it's never mentioned again!  One character dies after a plugged-in hair dryer falls into a bathtub on its own.  It seems like people would comment on this happening or take action to get the body moved out or say, "Hey, remember when [character] got electrocuted in that tub?"  But, nope, they just immediately go on with their lives.  


Boardinghouse appears to be set in an alternate universe where this is the norm.  You have to make all kinds of allowances for things that don't make sense.  Like a topless woman not hearing a running chainsaw approach until it is like one foot from her face.  


Or a copy of Vogue that tries to shoot someone with a gun.


This movie is deeply disturbed.  You can kind of tell it was made by people who hadn't made a mainstream film before.  Sometimes, this is kind of charming.  Boardinghouse is so in love with editing.  I'm guessing it's because it doesn't have to worry about prolonged shots of penis/vagina interchange.  But the movie constantly cuts back and forth between scenes, at the expense of logic.  There's one scene in which a real-time conversation is intercut with lengthy scenes of women catfighting in a hot tub.  It would give David Lynch a brain aneurysm.  Eventually, though, the porno roots of its makers reassert themselves.  


Believe it or not, there were even pornier-looking scenes than these two.  I just didn't screencap them.  You're welcome.


I don't know that I've ever seen anything so nonsensical as this.  Maybe Howling: New Moon Rising, although it's a pretty tight race.  And, as with that movie, I feel like you should see this.  It's a totally unique experience.  It's not good, of course, but it's something.  After 90 MINUTES of madness, we wind down to a climax that matches Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare for jaw-dropping weirdness.  Some H.G. Lewis-style gore is intercut(!) with a terrible band performance by a poor person's pool, which is intercut with a series of gunshots that the other characters don't hear.  Then the survivors fight on what is apparently the set of a Dokken video or something. 


Astoundingly, there's a 2 and a half hour cut of this that's available for purchase!!!  The makers wanted to release this epic version, but the distributors managed to talk them down.  I don't think you can really say "What the fuck?" with any conviction until you've seen this one.


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