Written by Old Bluffer 15th Jan 2007
The House of Clocks is a rather strange horror from Italian director, Lucio Fulci.
It is based on a fairly simple, yet moderately original premise: A psychotic elderly couple murder their nephew and his wife, and live on in their luxurious mansion, murdering the occasional maid to keep themselves occupied. The elderly gentleman in this relationship is totally obsessed with clocks, filling the house with them, talking to them and calling them his children. This is critical to the plot, as you'd imagine given the title of the film...
The androgynous figure in the centre here is actually the old couples' maid - she gets murdered soon after this, but eventually comes back to life.
The main action in the film occurs when three unlikeable teenagers arrive at the house, intending to rob the couple. Within a few minutes of this trio appearing on screen, it is guaranteed that they will die, as they commit numerous sins. They smoke drugs, they shoplift (whilst the girl distracts the sleazy shop assistant by letting him sniff her panties - I'm not joking) and by far the worst of all, one of the boys suffocates a cat in a plastic bag just for the pure hell of it. The poor cat takes an absolute age to die, but not one of the scum bag kids cares a bit.
The "don't let the cat out of the bag" joke is actually done in the movie itself...
Once they arrive at the House of Clocks, the girl blags her way in, whilst the boys scurry around the back and burst in once she signals that the coast is clear (it isn't, there is a one-eyed gardener in another room, armed with a shotgun - but she wasn't to know that). Soon we have a mexican standoff, with three deadbeat teenagers armed with a toy gun, a couple of unarmed pensioners who are serial murderers and the freaky looking gardener brandishing his shotgun. This probably sounds more exciting than it is, because we actually couldn't care less whether any of these misfits lives or dies.
After some general apathy, a scuffle breaks out during which One Eyed Gardener blasts the Mad Old Woman by accident, and then gets knocked out. The Mad Clock Collector tries to get revenge for his old lady, but ends up getting blasted as well.
So, the teenagers' robbery ends up as a double killing (and they don't think One Eye will survive either) and the only loot in the house are hundreds of clocks. More creepily, every single one of these clocks has now stopped (even the hourglass, which you'd think would warrant some investigation).
They wisely decide to get the hell out, but night has fallen and the grounds of the house are now guarded by ferocious hounds.
As they are Stupid Teenagers in a Horror film, they do what you would expect and head off to find somewhere to take drugs and shag.
This would appear to be the end of a rather dull film, were it not for the fact that all of the clocks are now running backwards, at an increasingly rapid pace.
The film has now reached its sole premise, so we are treated to a rather confusing sequence of events where time runs backwards outside of the house, but runs whichever the damn way it likes inside the house. In practise, this means that bloodstains from the killings disappear, and the old couple and one-eyed gardener come back to life to torment their killers.
They do a pretty good job of this - the cat torturer gets blasted by a shotgun early on, but lingers on for hours before being hacked to death with a handaxe.
The nondescript boy who isn't a cat torturer gets speared with a large stake (by the maid who was killed in the same manner at the start of the film, and is now alive by virtue of time running backwards) and the girl gets a spike through the back of her hand and is generally terrorised.
All of this merriment soon comes to an end though, when time runs so far backwards that the original owners of the house come back to life, and kill the old couple. This sets all the clocks running normally and the three teenagers conveniently awake in their car on the previous day.
They all laugh about their "dream" but decide that on second thoughts, perhaps they should give the House of Clocks a miss, and so they drive off in an annoyingly cheerful fashion.
All is not lost though, the cat that they suffocated has also come back to life, and is weakly mewing in his plastic bag. Even now, they choose to try and throw it out of the window rather than spare its life, so it with great satisfaction that the poor creature suddenly bursts free and claws the face of the driver (who was the b****** that originally bagged the poor little thing). The cat torturer loses control and the car veers off the road and plunges to its doom (actually, the director just rolls it down a slight incline into a field, but we got the point).
Sadly, the cat dies as well, but at least it ridded the world of three nasty pieces of work!
For the record, the three teenagers killed were Tony (Keith Van Hoven), Sandra (Karina Huff) and Paul (Peter Hintz).
Puss gets her revenge by smearing strawberry jam on this teenager's face, and he goes into anaphylactic shock.
This film wasn't actually as bad as some that we watch. Given that it was a made-for-TV production, the camera work and general atmosphere is almost commendable.
The soundtrack had a nice mix of being genuinely creepy (the main theme) to being wildly inappropriate (eg: Starsky and Hutch style music every time the teenagers drive, even if they're only going ten miles per hour).
I also enjoyed the old couples' dubbed voices, which were amusingly upper class British.
Worth watching, but only once!