Housesitter...The Night They Saved Siegfried's Brain!

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Housesitter; The Night They Saved Siegfried's Brain!

The road to Hell, so the saying goes, is paved with good intentions. Nowhere is this more apparent than the world of cinema, which is littered with the corpses of well-meaning mega-buck misfires, inane studio fare and independent duds alike. Nothing leaves a bad taste in a collective audience’s mouth more than a movie marred by shabby directing, faulty performances or bland pacing when there was ample opportunity for success. Yet there are two strains of bad film: those that are of unintentional poor quality, and those that are not. For every hundred Plan 9 From Outer Space and Waterworld that aspires to greatness and fails, a Rocky Horror Picture Show (or, indeed, a Bad Taste) rises from the depths to celebrate its own campiness with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

It’s in that latter womb that Leomark Studios’ Housesitter…The Night They Saved Siegfried’s Brain! was born. Initially lensed in 1987 but not released for thirty-two years, it’s a film that brims with intentional B-Movie insanity, and from the opening rumble of menacing, pseudo-symphonic bombast straight through to the wacky I-Can’t-Believe-I’m-Still-Watching-This end, viewers know instantly they’re in for an all-you-can-eat binge of over-the-top vintage cheese.

The plot unfolds from that initial reel with zany zeal: brainy college student Andy (Richard Gasparian, who co-wrote the film with director Robin Nuyen), is on the verge of a scientific breakthrough in the only-in-the-movies field of ‘crossover brain retention’, the transferring of an individual’s consciousness from one cerebellum to another. His hungry-for-acknowledgement professor, Dr. Ambrose (David Karsten) seeks to usurp Andy’s research in order to transfer the personality of his collegeue Siegfried into another body, and is assisted in the quest by his assitant, Cora (Lyda Stillwell), and Dr. Himmel, a mad-scientist of such Frankenstien-ish notoriety he was committed to the Drumpf Asylum For The Criminally Insane. Ambrose seeks to lure Andy into his pincers and hijack the youth’s work by allowing the young man to house-sit his creepy, Munsters-style lair of a dwelling while he goes out of town, but everything goes awry when Andy’s friends get wind of the arrangement and decide to throw an Animal House-inspired kegger instead.

There’s madcap mayhem aplenty in Housesitter, and while the direction and production values are too polished to fully emulate the B-Movies it wishes to ape, the sub-par spirit is there: the acting ranges from deliberately awful (Karsten’s Dr. Ambrose hams it up with vitriolic intensity) to amateurishly awful (most of the main cast), scenes involving illicit experimentation are shot in corny, angular black-and-white, and the audience becomes privy to each character’s thoughts due to overdubbed internal monologues. It’s a loving homage to the days of trashterpiece drive-in flicks and in that single-mindedly narrow goal succeeds stupendously.

That’s not to say it’s for everyone. There’s a certain type of audience for a movie like Housesitter--snobbish cinephiles who spend their time extrapolating the virtues of auteurs such as Welles or Kubrick or Spielberg to the exclusion of all else will find an

excursion into something so purposefully second-rate appalling, and even many straight-forward horror and science-fiction fans raised on a generation’s worth of CGI and torture porn will likely scoff at the running Elvis joke and fourth-wall breaking buffoonery. But those who revel in the low-budget funhouse of Troma, Full Moon Productions and John Waters won’t watch Housesitter with anything less than a delightfully deranged smirk.

I give Housesitter…The Night They Saved Siegfried’s Brain! a 2.5 (out of 5) on my Fang Scale (Add or subtract a point depending on your tolerance for camp).

Grade: 
2.5 / 5.0