The Halfway House (US-2004; dir. Kenneth J. Hall) looks like a Lovecraftian-inspired schlock horror flick, described by its director thus:
Young girls are disappearing in and around the Mary Magdalen Halfway House for Troubled Girls. Desperate to find out what became of her sister, Larissa Morgan (Janet Tracy Keijser from HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL) goes undercover to infiltrate the Catholic-run institution. Once inside, she encounters Father Fogerty, a priest with a passion for punishment; Sister Cecelia, a nun with a dark past plotting an even blacker future; Edwina and her love-toy Cherry Pie; tough Latino Angelina and her home girls and a sinister handyman named Lutkus. It’s not long before she’s caught up in a twisted web of sadism, violence, and wanton lust before finally learning the ultimate secret of the Halfway House. (IMDB)
Here’s the trailer:
The evil Sister Cecelia is portrayed by cult queen Mary Woronov:
and here is a friend of Lovecraft’s — Yog-Sothoth — who obviously used his industry connections to get a role in the film:
Director Kenneth Hall commented that the film’s mix of horror and comedy that runs through the film shifted its focus as the project developed. “Originally, I envisioned the humor being much broader, along the lines of Russ Meyer and John Waters, whose work I admire,” he said. “As I got into it more, I didn’t want the comedy to overwhelm the horror elements so I took a more subtle satirical approach, like Joe Dante and John Sayles did with The Howling, Dan O’Bannon with Return of the Living Dead, and Stuart Gordon with Re-Animator – – some of my all-time favorite genre movies.” Dropping those names as influences clearly tells us the nature of Hall’s aspirations.
On the Lovecraft connection Hall remarked:
I actually resisted that for a while, at least doing it as literally as I did. After all, this isn’t supposed to be an adaptation of one of his stories. Then I realized the fact that the Necronomican has turned up in so many movies was funny in itself. What better way to make fun of religious extremism than to use the Hollywood-style Lovecraft mythos from pictures like The Dunwich Horror and The Haunted Palace? You’ve got fanatics trying to bring into our world a race of beings that will wipe out all of humanity, including those who brought them in. How much more extreme can you get?
Along with the exploitation elements, though, Hall clearly has a more conceptual agenda running:
Well, it’s a humorous commentary about the dangers of allowing certain things to get out of hand under the guise of religious freedom, which is very timely, I think. Also, while this film revels in its exploitative roots, it has a strong pro-women theme. Female sexuality is probably the strongest force on earth. It’s what drives most men to succeed in society. It’s the basis of the whole economy. Our hero is female and so is our villain. Most of the male characters are controlled and manipulated by them, which ultimately leads to their demise. Before it starts sounding too pretentious, let me assure you The Halfway House is, first and foremost, a no-holds-barred horror film with enough monsters, gore, and gratuitous nudity to satisfy the most hardcore fan. At least, I sure hope it does since I happen to be one of those fans!
Read the full interview here.
The Halfway House has been described by cult horror director Joe Landis as “Good old drive-in exploitation fun!”, which is exactly what it looks like. It has now been released on DVD.
Check out production and cast details, news, and lots of pics on the official website.