In the post Shogun world, Japanese culture gained a foothold in American popular entertainment. The Land of the Rising Sun had been reduced to rubber monster suits including Gamera and Godzilla. Most grindhouse theaters were satisfied running chop socky from Hong Kong. Akira Kurosawa and Sonny Chiba weren’t during much in the late ’70s and early ’80s for the arthouse or drive-in scenes. Tokyo was losing steam until the Shogun miniseries brought back the concept of the Samurai and the Ninja in 1980. This major cultural event allowed exploitation filmmakers of Hollywood a chance to use centuries old traditions in modern settings for low budget productions. The House Where Evil Dwells & Ghost Warrior is a double feature that isn’t quite an even cultural exchange.
The House Where Evil Dwells (1982 – 88 minutes) opens up with a traditional Japanese setting. A samurai warrior returns home to find his wife involved with a pal. This leads to him going nuts with his sword and killing them both. He then commits suicide on his own sword. Flashforward over 100 years as Edward Albert ( Galaxy of Terror), Susan George (Strawdogs) and their daughter arrive in Japan for his new job with the embassy. Doug McClure (The Virginian) has found the perfect house for them. It’s a traditional Japanese place as they requested. The rent is below market. How can this be? Well the previous tenants were the dead couples from the opening scene. They ignore the rumors that the place is haunted and move inside. Turns out that they should have kept looking for a house that had been stomped by Godzilla. The ghosts of the former tenants attempt to act out their previous lives with the newbies. Susan finds herself seduced by Doug McClure. How could she refuse the animal magnetism of Trampas? This plays like a really frightening version of that HGTV series about renting a house in a distant land. Will the family lose their security deposit if they stain the floors with another murder-suicide event?
Ghost Warrior (1986 – 81 minutes) is a misleading title since the samurai warrior isn’t undead, but merely defrosted. Shogun Yoshimitsu (Kamen Rider‘s Hiroshi Fujioka) faces off against his enemies in a wintry mountain region. At the end of the battle, he plunges into a frozen river and doesn’t emerge for 400 years when he’s discovered in a block of ice. A secret mission flies the human Popsicle to America for experimental revival surgery. Reporter Chris Welles (King of New York‘s Janet Julian) gets to help discover the background of the stranger. She doesn’t learn too much. What’s comical about this film is that in the recovery room, there’s not a single person who speaks fluent Japanese. It’s up to the reporter to connect with the man out of time. Yoshi hasn’t a clue about the modern world. He escapes the hospital after being attacked by a greedy hospital worker. Modern Los Angeles is not sure what to think of the guy who looked like he just left his shift at a Benihana. He doesn’t take any gruff from various street gangs. The cops aren’t sure what to make of the killer who is slicing open bad guys with his ancient samurai swords. It’s up to Chris to save Yoshi from the perils of modern life. The movie reminds me of Phil Hartman’s Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer sketch on Saturday Night Live except with a body count.
The House Where Evil Dwells & Ghost Warrior is a fun double feature that really doesn’t give any justice to the samurai way of life. Both films have their positively goofy moments as they exploit the Japanese way of life without any real historical accuracy. Neither project seems inspired by the work of Kurosawa. But they are extremely entertaining in their over the top depiction of Samurai ways. Best to watch this with a bag of popcorn and a bowl of Ramen noodles.
The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The higher resolution all you a better chance to see the gleam in the swords. The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio Mono for Where Evil Dwells. Stereo is provided for Ghost Warrior. Both are fine mixes without too many dynamic audio moments. Both films are subtitled.
Theatrical Trailer (1:07) addresses how The House Where Evil Dwells wasn’t merely a legend.
Theatrical Trailer (3:00) gives the condensed version of Ghost Warrior.
The House Where Evil Dwells & Ghost Warrior is a double feature that brings the Samurai way of life into the modern world with dangerous results.
Scream Factory presents The House Where Evil Dwells & Ghost Warrior. Directed by: Kevin Connor & Larry Carroll. Screenplays by: Robert Suhosky & Tim Curnen. Starring: Edward Albert, Susan George, Doug McClure, Hiroshi Fujioka, John Calvin & Janet Julian. Rated: R. Boxset contents: 2 films on 1 Blu-ray disc. Released: January 5, 2016.
Tags: Ghost Warrior, Scream Factory, The House Where Evil Dwells