Plot: In a shotgun marriage of Halloween, Carrie and The Amityville Horror, the 1982 horror cash-in Boardinghouse records the strange goings-on at arguably the most cursed ranch house in Los Angeles County. As the opening crawl explains, not so long ago a pair of married Nobel Prize winners—"leading authorities on telekinesis"—were found dead on night of their 16th anniversary party. Their daughter was at the scene, and apparently so traumatized that she had to be committed. Some years later, right around the time that the daughter is due to be released from the nut-hatch, the old house becomes the residence of a group of starlets looking for a place to crash at night after days spent on "jaunts around the casting couch." Paying the rent for the ladies? A craggy-faced dude with terminal '80s hair (played by the director, John Wintergate), who spends his downtime sitting around in his underwear, honing his psychic powers.
The house also comes with a weirdo Vietnam vet gardener (also played by Wintergate), who's "not used to women" but wouldn't hurt a fly. ("A fly? No," one of the ladies protests. "Us? Maybe.") Harmless or not, the gardener may be the worst Tom Waits impersonator ever.
But a mumbling, skittish groundskeeper is hardly the worst of the housemates' problems. Though none of them ever remark on it, they and every single one of their visitors seem to be constantly fleeing levitating weapons, often while semi-nude. The body count reaches its peak at a big pool party, featuring the smokin' hot rock band 33 1/3 (an actual band, fronted by Wintergate's wife and Boardinghouse's female lead, the single-named Kalassu). After much eye-clawing and gut-gouging, one of the nubile young actresses reveals herself as the recently freed daughter of the Nobel Prize winners, and subsequently devastates a showbiz bigwig with the power of her fakey accent.
Key scenes: It's hard to decide which of Boardinghouse's many outlandish scenes of scantily clad ladies covered in fake blood is its best, but it's hard to top the first of many shower scenes (complete with leg-shaving for added verisimilitude), which ends with the shower-ee getting so freaked out by the blood dripping from the walls that she thrusts her breasts into the shower door a few times, then imagines she's been turned into a pig-woman.
The rest of Boardinghouse's best scenes involve Wintergate and Kalassu's dabbling in telekinesis, whether it be Wintergate showing off the old floating soap trick
or Kalassu using mind control to retrieve some yogurt from the fridge.
The two dabblers in the dark arts are so simpatico that it's only natural that they end up together in the shower, having some of the most unconvincing simulated sex ever shot (while the true villain plots a cat sacrifice in a few awkward cutaways).
Can easily be distinguished by: Aside from the cruddy image—shot on videotape—Boardinghouse makes sloppy use of its "Horror Vision" gimmick, which occasionally (but not always) inserts an image of a formless blob on the screen before anything awful happens.
Boardinghouse also sports an odd editing structure that allows for unconnected blackout gags, like this wacky golf routine:
Sign that it was made in 1982: The opening and closing crawls are presented as blocky text on a computer—a computer responding to the command "Run Case File."
Timeless message: This about sums it up:
Memorable quotes: When Wintergate asks his lounging ladies what they want for dinner, they all adopt a taunting voice, and yell "Chicken chow mein!" in unison. That may be the creepiest moment in the movie.
Available on DVD from Code Red