Production Notes

Behind the Scenes

"While we hope the creatures are frightening, we want to cut down on gore and shoot for something more surrealistic" says James Cummins, who designed the creatures for 'House'. "The overall feel of the motion picture is that the character of Roger Cobb is experiencing things in a surreal, dreamlike way, so we constructed the beasts to achieve a fantastic, almost cartoonish quality."

Chimney Ghoul

Cobb finds himself being terrorized by the bizarre and dangerous supernatural beings. But his nightmare has just begun. "Without a doubt this was one of the most exhausting roles i've ever had" says Katt. " Not only did the part require a tremendous amount of concentration and mental energy, it was also physically demanding."

During the course of the story, Katt's character finds himself being pursued by a hideous witch who knocks him unconscious with a blow to the head from a shotgun butt, scrambling panic-stricken through the House fending off the vengeful ghost of his former 6'8" army buddy Big Ben (RICHARD MOLL) and furiously eluding the claws of the war demon, a huge eighteen foot mechanical monster.

The War Demon

Producer Sean Cunningham was very selective when he cast William Katt in role of Roger Cobb. "In this picture, if you dont like the character of Cobb you havent got a movie" states Cunningham. "It was essential to have an actor who could blend humor with pathos; and the part also required the actor to be in top physical condition. Bill was a natural for the role."

Ben and  Roger

Katt began these frightful adventures on April 22,1985 when 'House' began production. The first two weeks of filming took place on location in Monrovia, California, at the home of Los Angeles firemen Brian and John Wade. The Victorian style house of these two brothers became 'the House'.

For the final six weeks of filming, the company shifted to Hollywood's Ren Mar Studios, once the home of Desilu Studios.

Production designer Gregg Fonseca, who was responsible for transforming the Wades' peaceful home into a place of nightmares, scouted an area in Monrovia, in which he knew existed Victorian Houses. A photographer took pictures of several likely possibilities, then collaborated with Fonseca to pinpoint the exact structure for the film.

The  HouseFonseca and his crew of five, modified the Wade Victorian within four weeks, vigorously repainting the entire house, fencing the front with wrought iron and adding Victorian gingerbread and spires.


The back of the edifice was changed from clapboard to brick, and landscapers were hired to plant flowers and bring the depleted front lawn back to life. The finishing touch was the construction of a sidewalk in front of the house.

The Interior

The talents of Fonseca, his design and construction crew, were then utilized in recreating the interior of the Victorian at Ren Mar, for sound stage filming. A replica of the two-storey interior, which included a full living room, den, staircase and three upstairs bedrooms was built on a stage.

The JungleOn an adjacentsound stage, Katt crawled through the dense foliage of a Vietnamese Jungle which Fonseca fabricated in three days time for the wartime flash-back sequences. Fonseca proudly remarked that the 'House' sets were some of the best work he had ever done.

Perhaps the most striking aspects of the film are the demons and monsters created by Special Effects wizard James Cummins. 'House' features a total of seven different monsters, including the remains of Roger Cobb's old army buddy Ben, a witch, three demonic kids, a 'flying void' creature, a marlin which comes to life while mounted on a wall, and a horrendous war demon, which menaces Cobb.

Skull and Crossbones

The creatures are the work of 17 special effects artists who laboured 10 hours a day, six days a week over a three and a half month period to construct the creatures. Cummins notes that the goal of the work is to produce something more than hideously gory beasts.

Perhaps the most awesome of the creations is the war demon, a fully mechanical creation controlled by 15 people. Construction of the creature took in excess of three months, and the result is a monster 18-feet long with massive 8-foot long arms.

The War Demon

Above: William Katt looks to Director Steve Miner on set

Producer Sean Cunningham and Director Steve Miner located Cummins after viewing the film 'Strange Invaders' for which Cummins had done the special effects. "The film contained scenes of alien transformation that were really terrific" says Cunningham. Miner continues: "Not only does James have an excellent reputation, but he is able to produce a quality product within the required timetable and budget".

The Sandywitch

Above: The Sandywitch on set. Note Director Steve Miner's hand creeping into shot.

"The most significant aspect in the creation of a successful motion picture is to manage money correctly," Cunningham states, "a modest budget doesnt have to be restrictive if you know what you're doing" he says. "I personally believe that the filmaker has a responsibility to the audience to produce a first-class product despite budget restrictions. I feel we have achieved that with 'House' and we were working within the confines of the budget."

The man responsible for the creation of these hellish creatures is screenwriter Ethan Wiley who wanted to make an exciting Horror film with elaborate special effects that also had a psychological depth.

The Sandywitch" I wanted to tell a concise story that would make the horror and characters blend" says Wiley, who views 'House' as the story of a man whose life is "on the skids, and when he comes to the House, it feeds off his anxiety and fears and compounds them."