Open House (1987) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Open House (1987) Review

Horrorific content by TE Simmons on July 09th, 2021 | Movie Review | Survival, Psychological, Serial Killer, 80's Horror

Add Open House (1987) to your Watchlist

Add to Watchlist

You need to login or register to add this movie to your horror watchlist.

It’s about a sort of Dr. Frasier Crane talk show psychologist who receives calls from a serial killer and thinks he can outwit him.  

Open House was directed by Jag Mundhra (The Jigsaw Murders and Bawandar), who also wrote the original story on which the screenplay was based. It stars Joseph Bottoms (Surfacing) as Dr. David Kelley, the consistently excellent Adrienne Barbeau (who got her first big break playing Carol Traynor on the television series Maude and later starred in The Fog, Escape from New York, and Swamp Thing), Rudy Ramos (Mr. Sadman) conveniently cast here as Rudy Estevez and  Darwyn Swalve plays the killer, Harry.

What happens in a love triangle comprised of a hesitant celebrity psychologist, his girlfriend, and a knife-and-axe-and-plunger-wielding psychotic?

Open House Review

There’s a scene from The Jerk where Navin Johnson (played by Steve Martin) lands a job as a gas station attendant and comes under sniper fire. Navin in the crosshairs, but the sniper isn’t too practiced at his craft. Shots spray, some thudding into a display of motor oil cans, opening bullet-sized holes from which brown syrup spurts. Dim-witted Navin wonders, “What’s wrong with these cans?”

A couple more shots. Then after a moment’s reflection, Navin forms a hypothesis: “These cans are defective! They’re springing leaks!”

Several more shots ring out, with additional spurts of Pennzoil pooling on the pavement, Navin spots the sniper across the highway, and a light bulb goes off for him: “He hates these cans!”

With Open House, we have a similar setup. The “Open House Killer” is targeting pretty, successful real estate agents in a series of slasher set pieces in spiffy homes. Serial killers like this one lack any immediately obvious connection to their victims, frustrating law enforcement.

The ordinary methods of crime solving don’t apply and what’s needed is a pattern. What’s required is some sort of clue to the victims’ profiles; a preference which operates as a motive and thereby connects killer to crime.

Indeed, a pattern does emerge, but it reveals itself to an unlikely sleuth – DJ/psychologist Dr. Kelly. He develops a relationship with the killer as a caller to his radio talk-show. After several visits, a light bulb goes off for the doctor: “He hates the overheated housing market!” Dr. Kelly nearly blurts out.

But there’s a twist: He’s right!

In movies from the 1970s, the screenwriters would often find a way to blame the criminal’s deeds on society. Homeless killer Harry blames high interest rates and corporations.

Worth Watching?

Sure, why not?

Open House Review (1987) Worth Watching? - ALL HORROR Tweet it

Awesome scream sequence!

Would it Kill You to Subscribe?

Get horror news, reviews and movie recommendations every Friday!

We respect your email privacy