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