Director: Lewis Abernathy
Arrow Video UK

The last gasp of the HOUSE franchise puzzled American viewers by being the third entry in the series while being titled HOUSE IV, and Arrow Video's Region A/B UK Blu-ray tries to clear up the mystery.

Known on both sides of the pond as HOUSE IV: THE REPOSSESSION, the fourth film in the series brings back William Katt as Roger Cobb who apparently has another "magic" house in his family as well as another wife and a teenage daughter. His decision to honor an oath between his grandfather and the local Native American tribe – represented by medicine man Ezra (Ned Romero, CHILDREN OF THE CORN II: THE FINAL SACRIFICE) – not to sell a house built on their land is a sore point between him and his stepbrother Burke (Scott Burkholder, CRIMSON TIDE). When his car flips over on a desert road and burst into flames, Roger's daughter Laurel (Melissa Clayton) is confined to a wheelchair and his wife Kelly (Terri Treas, ALL THAT JAZZ) – guilt-ridden over signing the order to shut off life-support of her severely-injured husband – decides to move into the house and restore it as a project to distract herself and her daughter. No sooner do they move in than strange things start to happen to Kelly who starts to believe that she is cracking up. When Burke is unable to convince his sister-in-law to sell the house to him so that he can use the mysterious well in the basement as a toxic dumping ground for his boss Mr. Grosso (Mark Gash, TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A.), he sends his lackeys (CARNOSAUR's Ned Bellamy and CRIME STORY's John Santucci) to terrorize them only for the supernatural forces within the house to turn on them. Kelly's only confidante is housekeeper Verna Klump (DREAM ON's Denny Dillon) who has installed herself in the household without explanation, but is she really as good as she seems?

A return to the quirkier, more family-friendly side of the franchise – apart from a blood and breasts shower sequence – after THE HORROR SHOW – which was only titled HOUSE III overseas since the title was jettisoned by United Artists for the states – HOUSE IV returns to the issues of loss and mourning in the first film while substituting the Aztecs from the second film for POLTERGEIST-y Native Americans. The weirdness in the house - including a dog lamp come to life and a living pizza played by stunt coordinator Kane Hodder (PRISON) – takes a backseat to bizarre real life world that seems to coexist with the dramatics of Kelly's story as brother-in-law Burke travels around with two flunkies like forties gangsters and works for a dwarf crime boss who requires a machine to extract phlegm from his throat (which he force feeds to those who incur his wrath). A disappointment upon release, HOUSE IV has improved with age and proves entertaining as part of a set rather than standalone. Dabbs Greer appears briefly as Kelly's father.

Released direct to video through RCA/Columbia sub-distributed New Line Home Video, HOUSE IV remained unavailable on DVD stateside while popping up everywhere else overseas (including a HOUSE set from Anchor Bay's British arm). Arrow Video's 2K-mastered 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 widescreen Blu-ray is a more vibrant presentation of the film than the VHS tape, contrasting some more saturated colors in the wardrobe with the wood and faded wallpaper of the house while the surreal gel-lit scenes in the toxic waste plant and Grosso's office are free of noise and the skintones of the actors are better separated from the red gels lighting them. Like the other transfers in the set, this one seems to have been transferred with the entire frame exposed, revealing a crew member at the edge of the frame in one shot (as pointed out online). English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0 soundtracks are provided with the surround track having a bit more depth in terms of music and directional effects. Optional English SDH subtitles are included.

The film is accompanied by an audio commentary by director Lewis Abernathy and David Gregory recorded back in June 2004 for the Anchor Bay edition. Abernathy reveals that he had worked on special effects for HOUSE and doctored the script for THE HORROR SHOW, and that he wanted to direct DEEP STAR SIX which he scripted. Cunningham instead offered him HOUSE IV which started with a script by Jim Wynorski (THE LOST EMPIRE) and R.J. Robertson (TRANSYLVANIA TWIST) which he reworked with Deirdre Higgins and Geof Miller (SHREDDER) before Cunningham approached him two weeks before production with the idea of integrating Katt's Roger Cobb character into the story (which was originally about a single mother whose deadbeat husband left her his family home). Abernathy admits that much of the choices he made with regard to the look of the characters and sets was out of a desire to be visually interesting with his first (and only) directorial effort despite the incongruities. He also reveals that the exterior of the house was a mockup while the interior was the same downtown Los Angeles Victorian which was also used in THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS.

Also included is "Home Deadly Home: The Making of HOUSE IV" (29:24) in with Cunningham and Abernathy separately rehash the story of the project's origins while Treas mentions the differences from the script she originally read and recalls the physicality of scenes like the pizza man bit. Katt vaguely recalls his three days on the set while Hodder discusses the stunts, playing the pizza man, and even sings the song. Abernathy also recalls penning the pizza man song and composer Harry Manfredini (FRIDAY THE 13TH) reveals that he is not sure whether it was he or Hodder who actually sung the song in the film. Cunningham recalls that the film went direct-to-video stateside but received theatrical release overseas and even did well in Italy. Also included is a still gallery (3:26), the film's trailer (1:50), and a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Justin Osbourn. (Eric Cotenas)