House appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Given the movieís age and origins, this became a pretty good presentation.
For the most part, sharpness worked fine. Some wider shots looked a little soft, but the majority of the movie appeared reasonably accurate and tight Ė this wasnít a razor-sharp film but it seemed more than acceptable.
Shimmering and jaggies remained absent, and I noticed no edge haloes. Print flaws also failed to mar the proceedings.
House featured a fairly subdued palette, and the colors looked adequate. I thought they couldíve been more vivid, but they were mostly good, and at least they lacked the murkiness that affects so many 1980s movies.
Black levels seemed to be pretty dense and dark, and shadow detail was clean and natural. Nothing about the image excelled, but I thought the transfer offered a nice representation of an older, low-budget affair.
Though the film boasts a new DTS-HD MA 5.1 remix, one shouldnít expect much from it. For all intents and purposes, this became a ďglorified monoĒ track that failed to use the channels to much advantage.
Honestly, Iíd be hard-pressed to identify any notable usage of the side or rear speakers. Music spread out in a broad manner that lacked obvious stereo presence, and effects fell into the same category. While these elements moved outside of the center, they did so without any clarity.
That felt like a disappointment, as the movie enjoyed a number of good opportunities for lively audio. The Vietnam flashbacks couldíve created a dynamic presence, and the scary sequences came with the same potential. None of these managed to provide a soundscape that expanded past the monaural impression to an obvious degree.
Audio quality seemed fine for its age. Speech could be a little flat, but the lines lacked edginess and seemed perfectly intelligible.
Effects were a bit thin at times, and they didnít pack much of a punch, but they came across as acceptably realistic and accurate, and they lacked any significant distortion.
Music followed suit, as the score lacked a lot of range. Like the effects, the music was clear enough but it didnít present much punch. This was a perfectly adequate mix without anything notable on display.
Note that the Blu-ray also includes the original monaural audio. I preferred this to the remix, mainly because it seemed a little clearer.
The single-channel option gave us slightly tighter music and effects as well as mildly more natural dialogue. Since the 5.1 remix lacked real use of the side/rear channels, Iíd recommend the mono track as the strongest listening option.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the 2002 DVD version? Audio differed in that the DVD included only the original monaural mix, whereas the Blu-ray offered a new 5.1 remix.
It seemed clearer and less rough than the DVDís audio Ė and the Blu-rayís mono track offered definite improvements. Though the Blu-rayís audio never excelled, it seemed more natural and less distorted than the DVDís mix.
Visuals showed additional improvements. While the DVD looked good for its era/format, the Blu-ray seemed tighter, cleaner and more natural. Across the board, the Blu-ray became the strongest reproduction of the film.
The Blu-ray mixes old and new extras, and these start with the DVDís audio commentary from director Steve Miner, producer Sean S. Cunningham, writer Ethan Wiley and actor William Katt. All four men sit together for this running, screen-specific track. Usually that kind of mass meeting leads to a lively piece, but that wasnít the case with this fairly mediocre offering.
It appears that none of the participants has seen House in quite some time, and their lack of familiarity shows. Quite a few empty spots occur, which is unusual for a commentary with so many participants. Normally the folks involved have to jockey for position, but this one ends up with a fair amount of dead air.
When someone does speak, the remarks are often fairly interesting. They mention some good notes about low-budget filmmaking, and there are some fun stories from the set as well. However, a lot of the track follows the participants as they get reacquainted with the movie, and it frequently seems as though they donít remember it very well.
Oddly, they make some factual errors even though they should hear the correct information as they watch the flick. For example, they consistently refer to the aunt character as Rogerís grandmother. Ultimately, this becomes a sporadically interesting but generally flat and slow-paced commentary.
New to the Blu-ray, Ding Dong Youíre Dead runs one hour, six minutes, 39 seconds. The show features Cunningham, Miner, Wiley, Katt, story creator Fred Dekker, special painting artists William Stout and Richard Hescox, creature effects crew Brian Wade, James Belohovek, Barney Burnbaum, Bill Sturgeon, Shannon Shea, and Kirk Thatcher, stunt coordinator Kane Hodder, special visual effects artist Hoyt Yeatman, composer Harry Manfredini, and actors George Wendt and Kay Lenz.
ďDongĒ looks at the projectís origins and development, story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations. It also gets into creature design and creation, stunts and visual effects, music, advertising and the filmís release.
ďDongĒ provides a solid overview of the production. The show digs into all the requisite subjects and does so in a compelling way, so it makes up for the sins of the lackluster commentary.
Next we find a Vintage Making of> featurette. It goes for 24 minutes, seven seconds and provides comments from Cunningham, Miner, Katt, creature effects designer James Cummins, and actors Richard Moll and Mary Stavin.
ďMakingĒ mostly discusses story and characters, though it throws in a few production elements. Despite a smattering of good shots from the set, the vast majority of ďMakingĒ exists to promote the film, so it remains fluffy and insubstantial.
In addition to three trailers and three TV spots, we get a Still Gallery that includes 77 images. Presented as a running six-minute, 54-second montage, we see production photos as well as some advertising/video art. Itís a decent collection.
The package finishes with The House Companion, a 148-page book. It offers a long essay by author Simon Barber as well as art, photos, and promotional materials. It gives us a very strong long at the entire House franchise.
House offers a somewhat different kind of scary movie, though I donít think it becomes a successful one. The subject matter seems inappropriate for the light and campy treatment, and the filmís participants canít take the material to a higher level. The Blu-ray offers generally good picture as well as acceptable audio and a mostly informative roster of supplements. Though the movie leaves me cold, the Blu-ray treats it well.
Note that as of April 2017, this House Blu-ray can be purchased only as part of House: Two Stories. This also includes House II and the ďCompanionĒ book.
To rate this film visit the DVD Review of HOUSE