20 years after an innocent prank at a haunted house goes horribly wrong, a college fraternity becomes the target of a madman who plans to crash their haunted house and turn it into a true house of horrors.
Directed and co-written by Doug Robertson, HauntedWeen is an extremely low-budget slasher film set during the most wonderful time of the year: Halloween. The film was shot in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and quickly establishes itself with a distinct look from many horror films of the era, and this is specifically due to its ‘Bluegrass State’ setting.
HauntedWeen begins with a flashback to the accidental murder of a girl by the hands of a mentally deficient boy named Eddie Burber (Craig Bitterling and Ethan Adler). The murder occurs in a haunted house that Eddie’s family puts on every Halloween, and this haunted house setting mixes nicely with a soft focus lense that results in the flashback having an aesthetically appeasing nightmare like quality. Despite its obvious low-budget, this opening sets a nice mood that feels somewhat reminiscent to another low-budget horror film, David Prior’s Sledgehammer. Though, with HauntedWeen, things are a tad more sensible.
From there the movie jumps forward twenty years later, where the before mentioned fraternity is - in true ‘save the rec center’ fashion - forced to come up with X amount of dollars or else they'll lose their recognition as a national fraternity. Their first fundraising idea comes in the form of a pay to play party, but that leads to little more than money for more beer. However, in an odd turn of events, a strange man gives the frat members permission to use his abandoned home to host a haunted house and, in turn, make the money they need to keep their frat going. This location is the perfect place to hold a killer haunted house, especially since it’s the same house where the young girl was murdered 20 years earlier.
HauntedWeen features a nice mix of low-budget cheese and a surprising level of competence, both of which keeps the film enjoyable for the long, non-horror stretch that occurs during much of the first half. As one would expect, there’s a lot of terrible acting. On the other hand, though, there’s also some surprisingly okay performances, too. There are also a lot of funny moments, some of which are unintentional, and some that are genuinely worthy of a laugh or two, and this is most evident in the sporadic lines of clever dialogue strewn throughout. Something else that should be noted is the complimentary music that comes with your stay at HauntedWeen; music that mostly consists of pre-set, uptempo Jazz from a Casio. The Vince Guaraldi Trio this is not.
The final act of HauntedWeen takes place in the fraternity’s haunted house where Eddie makes his big appearance. In a seemingly typical fashion, Eddie begins slaying characters left and right, but where things really get exciting is how these deaths lead to a showcase horror moment where Eddie puts on a real showstopper for the patrons of the haunted house; a show they’ll be sure to remember for years to come.
Ushered by the cheering sounds of an oblivious audience, Eddie delivers a Grand Guignol inspired performance that involves various victims being tortured to death. With each slice and dice Eddie makes, the audience grows all the more excited. To them this is all just a good bit of fun. Naturally, this Grand Guignol style of cinema madness has been seen in numerous exploitation and horror films in the past, but rarely are they featured in what would otherwise be a typical slasher film. In that sense, such an approach is quite refreshing, never mind completely enjoyable in its execution.
In the vast ocean of shitty-to-mediocre low-budget slasher films that offer nothing more than a sigh from their viewers, HauntedWeen is truly a hidden gem that shines brightly due to the obvious care the filmmakers put into entertaining their audience. That’s not to say that the film isn’t without its faults, and of course there are some silly moments, but all of these things add to the entertainment value as oppose to taking away from it. HauntedWeen is simply good, home cooked fun from a group of people with their hearts in the right place.