Published Nov 26, 2013In trying to wring scares out of a flimsy and silly premise, The Horror Show is the kind of thriller where ominous music builds dramatically, only to have a cat jump out at someone, or they realize it's just a loved one sneaking up on them. It would be easy to dismiss entirely if, amidst a lot of fluff and filler, there weren't a couple of effective performances from Lance Henriksen and Brion James keeping this lame duck afloat.
Henriksen is Lucas, a detective haunted by a vicious serial murderer named Max Jenke (James) that he recently put behind bars. When Lucas goes to witness the execution of Jenke, things don't exactly go as planned: Jenke seems ecstatic about the electricity passing through him, and when they turn up the juice he makes a promise to Lucas that they have not seen the last of each other before finally expiring.
Sure enough, Jenke somehow manages to find a way to regenerate inside the furnace in Lucas's basement by manipulating electric wavelengths, or something. It's all explained by the requisite crazy scientist who might not be so crazy after all in a plot thread that's hardly worth the time it takes to even set up. The short of it is that Jenke can essentially appear whenever he wants, so he begins to use his powers to terrorize Lucas's home.
James plays Jenke like a figure out of a horrific nightmare, armed with a meat cleaver and a spine-tingling laugh, and the way Henriksen wears a perpetually vacant look of fear while questioning whether he's losing his mind only adds to the power of Jenke's creepy presence. The script continuously does them few favours, however, saddling Lucas with a thinly sketched wife and kids, while being frustrating in its adherence to the genre convention that the killer must first target people who are largely inconsequential to the story.
In the supplemental material, we learn from stunt coordinator Kane Hodder that the movie is actually to be regarded as the third entry in the House series. Hodder, who plays Jason in many of the Friday the 13th movies, is surprisingly friendly for a guy who has made a living dismembering teenagers, gushing over all the great people he worked with on the film and how it's still brought up regularly by fans at conventions he and Henriksen attend. Rita Taggart, who portrays Henriksen's wife, reveals in another interview how the firing of Australian director David Blyth disrupted things on the set for a little while. (Shout! Factory)