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I am a fan of horror movies. Some are good. Some are bad. Some are indifferent. Many of them are remakes or seemingly copies of other horror movies, thus a lack of originality tends to be associated with this particular genre. This brings us to THE SICKHOUSE ($20), which is frighteningly similar to RETURN TO HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, insomuch that it assemble a group of disposable victims into a former "hospital," so that they can be dispatched in a grisly fashion by malevolent spirits. The setting of THE SICKHOUSE is the ruins of seventeenth century plague hospital where an archeologist hopes to prove her theories about a murderous plague doctor. Of course, said archeologist’s excavations rouse the murderous spirit, just as a group youths’ break into the hospital, which allows for a higher body count. Since the youths prove to be such an unlikable lot, there is no doubt the audience will be looking forward to their blood soaked deaths. The cast of THE SICKHOUSE includes Gina Philips, Alex Hassell, Kellie Shirley, Andrew Knott, Jack Bailey, John Lebar, Romla Walker, Tom Wontner, Gregg Harris, Finlay Carr and Gillian MacGregor.

New Line Home Entertainment has made THE SICKHOUSE available on DVD in a 2.35:1 widescreen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. A full screen presentation is included, if anyone cares. The presentation has the look as if it were shot with HD cameras under very low light settings. Much of THE SICKHOUSE is unattractive, dark, somewhat murky and decidedly grainy. Things can and do appear somewhat soft. Sequences with better lighting have much better definition. The limited lighting skews the colors, but well lit sequences appear more natural. Digital compression artifacts are not generally problematic.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack gets the job done. There are some spooky atmospheric qualities to the soundtrack, but for the most part, the sound design is un-involving because all it has to do is reproduce a lot of screaming, as victims and potential victims run around in the dark waiting to be dispatched. An English Dolby Surround track has also been provided, as have English and Spanish subtitles.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some previews.

THE SICKHOUSE isn’t a particularly original horror movie or particularly attractive DVD. It may be worth a peek, or may make for an interesting second half of a double feature with RETURN TO HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL.



The Sickhouse (2007)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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