Story: Detective McCarthy (Lance Henriksen) devoted his life to the capture of sadistic serial killer “Meat Cleaver” Max (Brion James), a dedication that paid off, as the murderer was brought to justice. McCarthy even watched as Max was executed in the electric chair, but even with the madman put to death, is this the end? After the execution, McCarthy begins to experience some unexplainable events and while he is hesitant to even consider the notion, it seems as if Max might be back. Of course, when he tries to tell others about the paranormal events taking place, he is dismissed or waved off as mentally exhausted. But is McCarthy just in need of some much needed rest or has Max returned from the other side?
Entertainment Value: While often included as part of the House franchise, The Horror Show doesn’t feel like an organic part of the series and was just tacked on to try to raise interest. The tone is darker and more serious, so if you show up expecting the zaniness or silly humor of the first two movies, you will be let down here. The end result is a mediocre horror movie that leaves little to no impression, which is a shame, as Lance Henriksen and Brion James make fun dueling leads. The narrative is passable, but doesn’t do a lot to stand out or push the envelope, settling for a predictable, generic horror experience instead. A little craziness is stirred up, such as Henriksen staring into a fire, some non traditional deep fryer recipes, and some light gore, but it is simply not enough. I wouldn’t rank this with the worst horror movies out there, but The Horror Show is bland and overly predictable, not to mention just plain dull at times. So unless you simply have to see all the 80s horror out there, this one is safe to skip.
I love that Lance Henriksen has the lead here, but I wish he was given more of a worthy project to carry on his shoulders. Henriksen is often able to make the best of even lackluster material, but here he struggles to keep things even a little interesting. He does his best and certainly doesn’t phone in his effort, but the script lets him down often. Brion James is capable as always as our villain and a showdown between James and Henriksen should have been epic, but no such luck. So we have two competent, skilled performers with an uncommon chance to shine in lead roles, only to have a poor script sabotage the potential. But hey, it is still fun to watch these two genre staples tackle the featured roles, so there’s that. The cast also includes Rita Taggart, Dedee Pfeiffer, and Lewis Arquette.