If you’ve been kept up nights wondering, what would it look like if Animal from Hey Hey It’s Saturday fisted a bongo, you are in luck.
Houseboat Horror opens with several car loads of people making their way along country roads to Lake Infinity. As one bloke puts it, their purpose on the lake is, “Just shootin’ a rock clip for a music group that plays at the underground disco”. One of the cars picks up a hitchhiker, they let her off on the edge of the lake to go find her boyfriend who’s already made camp. When she does find him, he’s been freshly and brutally killed with an arrow, or stick, or something to the throat. His missus tries to run away, but she cops it too.
The music group who play at the underground disco arrive lakeside and so do the crewmembers who’ll be shootin’ the rock clip. There’s an obvious anti-film crew sentiment amongst the locals, but I’m sure that has nothing to do with the double murder in the opening minutes. Or does it? Yes. Yes, it does. Everyone boards a flotilla of houseboats and they make their way around the lake, drinking and rooting, rooting and drinking. There’s something about the amazing 80s vibe of Houseboat Horror that makes “rooting” the only appropriate word for the brand of boot knocking on display.
People die, a lot, but I generally had no idea who. It’s like the screenwriters made sure they had maximum cast for maximum body count, but never worried about even minimal character development. I really have no idea if the core group consisted of one blonde woman and one brunette woman, or several of both varieties that I just never differentiated.
If you ever watched Australian TV in the 80s, you’re in for a treat, because Houseboat Horror is a cavalcade of has beens, never weres and “that guys”. You have the afore mentioned Animal (drummer for the house band on Hey Hey It’s Saturday), Jim from Neighbours, Gavin Wood (the voiceover guy from Countdown) and a soundtrack by the Uncanny X-Men’s Brian Mannix. Even John Michael Howson takes time way from his packed schedule of weight lifting, Muay Thai training and pounding vag, to film a cameo.
This movie really does tick all the miniscule budget horror boxes. Shot on video ?… Check. Chintzy synth score ?… Check. Actresses not nearly hot enough for their sexpot roles?… Check. Animal from Hey Hey It’s Saturday fisting a bongo ?… You better believe it.
There’s a lot to make fun of in Houseboat Horror, but the more I watched it, the more I found myself being impressed by its very existence. Someone came up with this story and decided to sit down and write a feature length screenplay to tell it. Someone liked that screenplay enough to co-direct it with the writer. More than a dozen people gave up their time to act in it. It was shot, edited, sold to a distributor and released for paying audiences. There are thousands of frustrated film makers out there who would look down their nose and scoff at Houseboat Horror, but those same frustrated film makers will never have the balls to actually make their self-proclaimed masterpiece and put it out there for public consumption and public scrutiny. But Kendal Flanagan and Ollie Martin did it. They made a movie that I heard about and was able to buy on DVD in 2013, almost a quarter of a century later. I’d call that a win.