If you’ve been reading my most recent reviews, you’ll have noticed that I’ve been on a little Unearthed Films kick. In continuing with that recent trend, I figured I’d check out another one of the most recent additions to their ever-growing filmography, Todd Sheets’ House of Forbidden Secrets.
It’s Jacob’s first night as the security guard for ShadowView Manor. After meeting with the rest of the night residents of the building, Jacob reluctantly agrees to be a participant in a séance. Instead of communicating with the recently deceased husband of a grieving widow, however, the group have made contact with something, or someone, much more sinister. Now the Manor’s haunted past is breaking through the veil of reality, unleashing Hell upon its current inhabitants.
I’ll be honest with you guys; After watching the trailer for this one a few weeks back, I wasn’t really impressed, and had zero intentions of ever watching it. That changed, however, once I started seeing the hype for this one amongst the diehard Unearthed fans. Curiosity getting the better of me, I decided to give it a fair chance to impress me as much as it seemed to be impressing everyone else.
As is usual for most low-budget, do-it-yourself horror films, the cast of House of Forbidden Secrets is a mixed bag of talent, ranging from not-so-good to pretty impressive. The best performance, without a doubt, comes from Nicole Santorella (Hi-8) in her role as Cassie, the gifted medium. More so than anyone else, Santorella was able to convey the different emotions necessary for the events unfolding throughout — the joy of speaking to her lovely daughter on the phone to the sheer dread of being chased by demons and ghouls.
Originally released in 2013, House of Forbidden Secrets is as independent as they come. A true jack of all trades, Todd Sheets not only directs, but also acts as writer, editor, and producer. A true testament to the type of filmmaker that he is, the limited budget did not stop Sheets from unleashing his entire arsenal.
Along with the cast of actors who make up the main cast, there are appearances from a slew of familiar faces from throughout the last two or three decades of fear cinema. Longtime genre fans will recognize the likes of Ari Lehman (Friday the 13th), Lloyd Kaufman [of Troma fame], George Hardy (Troll 2), Lew Temple (The Devil’s Rejects), Dyane Thorne (Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS), Howard Maurer (Ilsa: The Wicked Warden), etc.
The love for the genre, and more so of film making in general, is made abundantly clear throughout the feature’s 98 minute runtime. It is silly and kind of random at times and, oh, did I mention it is also full of gore? Flesh is torn apart, eyes are gouged out, and a girl is ripped almost completely in half, among other forms of depravity. If you’re a fan of Troma-level indie horror and love seeing tons of DIY gore effects, this is a film you’re going to want to check out.
House of Forbidden Secrets hasn’t proven to be my favorite independent flick, but I can see why a bunch of people have enjoyed it. It can be a fun time for all, features bloody kills, and even has a killer score by frequent Fulci collaborator, Fabio Frizzi.
Be sure to pick up your copy of House of Forbidden Secrets, which is out now on Blu-ray for the first time, thanks to Stephen Biro and Unearthed Films. This home release contains a feature-length making of documentary, documenting Todd Sheets’ health battles and triumphant comeback, audio commentary, gag reels and deleted scenes, and even a second cut of the film.
HoFS has earned itself a final repulsive rating of 2 nipple horns out of 5.