aka 8213 Gacy House; Paranormal Entity 2
Director/Screenplay – Anthony Fankhauser, Producers – Paul Bales, David Michael Latt & David Rimawi, Photography – Mark Hoefler. Production Company – The Asylum.
James Arthur Lewis (Michael Lewis), Michael Gaglio (Professor Roger Franklin), Sylvia Panacione (Tessa Escobar), Rachel Riley (Lena Russell), Matthew Temple (Robby Williams), Brett Newton (Gary Gold), Diana Terranova (Janine Peslo)
Film footage is compiled from tapes in police evidence. A university parapsychological research team were conducting a tour of famous serial killer homes across the country. They travelled to Des Plaines, Illinois, to the house that had been built on the site of the former home of serial killer John Wayne Gacy. As they set up and began testing the house for evidence of ghosts, all the while filming everything, they indeed found that the house was haunted by malevolent spirits.
Gacy House is a film that comes with the intriguing notion of being a ghost story that ventures into the house once owned by John Wayne Gacy. Between 1972 and his arrest in 1978, Gacy imprisoned and murdered 33 young, usually teenage, men. He was infamous for having buried the bodies of his victims in the basement crawlspace of his home and covering them with lime until the smell eventually attracted attention. He was executed in 1994. Straight filmed versions of Gacy’s story can be found in To Catch a Killer (tv mini-series, 1992) and Gacy (2003).
There is a good deal of potential to the idea of haunted house film set on the site of Gacy’s property but it is one that Gacy House almost entirely discards. Firstly, the credits tell us that it is not Gacy’s house but only one that was built on the site. (However, the parapsychologists contradictorily refer to it as the same house where Gacy lived and murdered. It is also worth noting that the real-life Gacy House was completely demolished by police during their search for bodies back in 1978). All of that said, John Wayne Gacy is of zero relevance to Gacy House other than in terms of being a novel title by which to sell the film. You could have called it John Wayne House and made no difference to anything that happens in the film.
In every other regard, The Asylum, the makers of a great many cheap and low-budget films including Snakes on a Train (2006), Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus (2009) and Sharknado (2013), have just gone away and made a Found Footage ghost story copying Paranormal Activity (2007). In fact, Gacy House frequently looks like no more than one of the crappy ghost hunter reality tv shows that mostly air on the Syfy Channel. Director/writer Anthony Fankhauser does little that is original. He fails to even drum up any atmosphere and merely throws in some very minor physical jumps – doors slamming, objects being thrown.
The film’s occasional moments reside in the unintentionally laughable such as the kooky New Age psychic (Sylvia Panacione) who believes in everything from Loki, the Moon Goddess and casting runes to determine their fate. It is only in around the last ten minutes that the film moves out of its dreary lack of event in a series of scenes with people being levitated in mid-air, dragged across rooms and the appearance of shadows of spooky figures on the wall. Sylvia Panacione gets a great exploitation scene at the end where she tries to conduct a seance as the forces in the house rip off her top. It still fails to amount to anything that makes Gacy House more than an immediately forgettable addition to the Found Footage haunted house genre.
With The Haunting of Winchester House (2009), The Asylum hit on the novelty idea of setting a Found Footage ghost story on the site of a famous murder (or notorious place) and have made other films in a similar vein with Anneliese: The Exorcist Tapes (2011), The Amityville Haunting (2011), A Haunting in Salem (2011), The Haunting of Whaley House (2012), 100 Ghost Street: The Return of Richard Speck (2012) and The Bell Witch Haunting (2013).
Director Anthony Fankhauser has produced a great many films for The Asylum and other companies, as well as directed 2012: Supernova (2009), Shadow People (2011) and Jurassic Attack (2013).