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Film / The Horror Show

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They tried to electrocute "Meat Cleaver" Max. It didn't work.

"Lucas, I'm coming back to tear your world apart... I'm going to fuck you up."
Max Jenke, making a dying promise

The Horror Show is a 1989 horror film. The film was released in some countries outside the United States as House III: The Horror Show, even though it has no connection to the previous films in the House franchise.

The story centers around police detective Lucas McCarthy (Lance Henriksen), who becomes a target for otherworldly revenge from an executed Serial Killer "Meat Cleaver" Max Jenke (Brion James), whom he helped to bring in.

This film has the examples of:

  • Achilles' Heel: Jenke is a borderline Reality Warper after his resurrection and can't die since he's a ghost, but electrocuting him again will reverse it and render him mortal and vulnerable to being killed for real. McCarthy and his wife electrocute him at a power plant in his realm and do just that.
  • Arch-Enemy: Jenke to McCarthy. After Jenke kills McCarthy's partner and some of his other colleagues then it becomes personal.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Jenke tips off both of Detective Casey's arms.
  • Ax-Crazy: Jenke. He uses a large meat cleaver as a weapon (hence his nickname) and he's a pure evil psychopath.
  • Badass Boast: Max gets one out before the chair’s activated:
    Max Jenke: Your worst fucking nightmare, Lucas... I’M IT.
  • Badass Longcoat: Jenke wears it, even in death.
  • Beard of Evil: Max has a beard, and is a monstrous serial killer.
  • Big Bad: Jenke's villainy in life and the afterlife drives the plot.
  • Black Dude Dies First: The first person Jenke kills onscreen is McCarthy’s black partner Casey.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Jenke after being electrocuted a second time in his realm, dragging him back to the world of the living and fully resurrecting him. As he's now alive again, he loses his powers and becomes mortal, allowing McCarthy to finish the job.
  • Came Back Strong: Jenke's pure evil and practice with electricity allowed him to come back as ghost far more dangerous than he ever was alive.
  • Chairman of the Brawl: When a burning Jenke approaches Lucas after freeing himself from the electric chair, Lucas readies himself with a chair.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: After killing one cop in the flashback, Jenke puts his severed head on a table and writes "blue platter special" with blood next to it.
  • Curtain Camouflage: When Donna is searching the basement for the cat, Jenke's legs and shoes are seen hiding behind the rack of clothes.
  • Dolled-Up Installment:
    • Thanks to having some of the same creative forces behind it, the film was released as a third sequel to House outside the US. The title stuck, and the official third House film had to be released as House IV.
    • And as if that wasn't enough, it was also released as the seventh Evil Dead in Italy.
  • Double Tap: After gunning down the now mortal Jenke, Lucas sticks his gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger, just to be sure.
  • Evil Laugh: Jenke's ratty "hehehehe".
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Jenke. It is Brion James, after all.
  • Flashback Nightmare: The arrest of Jenke by Lucas is shown through his nightmares.
  • Groin Attack: While electrocuting Jenke to make him mortal again, Donna shoves an electric cable into his groin.
  • High-Voltage Death: Jenke's first death is via electric chair. This was Invoked on his part, as the only way Jenke could return as a powerful, deadly ghost is if he was killed by electricity. Inverted at the climax, as electrocuting Jenke a second time makes him mortal and allows him to be killed by gunfire.
  • Large Ham: Jenke. After Leon and Raquin this is Brion James' hammiest performance.
  • Made of Evil: According to Campbell, Jenke has basically become this after death. The fact he was already pure evil to begin with is actually the reason he was able to come back to life.
  • Made of Iron: It takes a lot of voltage to kill Jenke on the electric chair.
    Jenke: All that did was give me a hard-on!
  • No Range Like Point-Blank Range: Lucas makes sure Jenke is really dead the second time by sticking his gun in the psycho's mouth and pulling the trigger.
  • Once is Not Enough: Defied. After Jenke is rendered mortal, Lucas fills him full of lead until he stops moving. He then walks over, sticks his gun in the psycho's mouth and fires. After all that happened, the man did not take chances making sure Jenke's was really dead that time.
  • Off with His Head!: Jenke's preferred form of murder.
  • Oh, Crap!: Jenke has this reaction when he's rendered mortal and sees Lucas pointing a gun at him.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Jenke trained himself so being electrocuted would result in him returning as a Made of Evil spirit capable of borderline Reality Warper abilities. He can also be returned to the living by electrocuting him again.
  • Peekaboo Corpse: Vinnie's corpse in the basement provides this.
  • Rape as Drama: When Jenke captures Bonnie, it's implied that he raped her.
  • Reality Warper: The now Made of Evil Jenke is seemingly capable of warping reality, at least within the house.
  • Shoot the Television: Lucas is tormented by visions of Jenke while he and his family are watching a stand-up comedian on TV. The visions drive Lucas to take out his police-issued handgun and shoot the TV set, to the shock and dismay of the rest of his family.
  • Shower Scene: Completely gratuitous one provided by Bonnie.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: After Jenke is rendered mortal, Lucas fills him full of lead and doesn't stop until he stops moving. He then walks over, sticks the gun in his mouth and fires one last shot just to make sure he's dead for good.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Jenke starts adding "bitch" to his sentences during the climactic confrontation.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Jenke slices off a girl's head right in front of Lucas in the opening scene.
  • You Can't Kill What's Already Dead: Jenke is essentially invulnerable as a ghost, as he's already dead. It takes bringing him back all the way and then killing him in a way that didn't involve electricity to put him down for good.
  • Your Head Asplode: After Prof. Campbell's severed head on the other side reminds Lucas of how to defeat Jenke, he explodes.