When I think of the 80s I think of cheesy slashers and cult sci-fi films. However, what do most of these things have in common? They all address a singular issue that was common throughout most of the 80s. Films like They Live, C.H.U.D., TerrorVision and Videodrom addressed issues such as the power TV has over its audiences and in some cases the rise of the lower class. The 1987 slasher film Open House seemed to have slipped below the radar despite its star actress even though the film makes a great point about lower class people. Open House is about a killer, who is a homeless man, who goes around killing young female real estate agents in Los Angeles. Though he may be insane, his reason behind the killing of real estate is a more radical approach to dealing with corporate takeover.
“It’s what they all done to me. They made homes to damn expensive. It’s all the real estate people’s fault. All the big shot corporation guys; they think they own everything.”
The way I look at it, this is a man who has gone insane because of how corporate and how greed people have gotten. Perhaps Harry, like Travis in Taxi Driver, has become sick and disgusted at what society has stooped down to that he feels obligated to set things right. He sees these young attractive real estate agents as sort of prostitutes of sorts, whoring themselves out to look sexy so that they can persuades their costumers into buying ridiculously overpriced homes. In a sick twisted way, Harry has some remnants of morality left. It would explain why he keeps calling the real estate agents bitches and cunts.
I can only image that Harry was once a prominent business man who got greedy or his superiors got greedy, resulting in him losing his job and family. Stranded on the streets, he learns to be a one-man army and any pressure like that would push a man off his rocker. Though he does have a point: people do deserve to live in homes and that companies shouldn’t hike the price of living up that high because it undermines the lower class. Here, Harry represents the lower class and how that social class has to fight to stay alive whereas the upper class can spend money at their leisure. He represents the uprising of the lower class and how they would eventually consume the upper classes to get back at them.
I’m willing to admit that I sort of sympathize with Harry not only because he is insane and doesn’t know the extent in which he was acting upon but also because he is a person that has been constantly beaten down by society. He was pushed into a corner and forced to deal with things the way he saw fit. Perhaps Open House is a little more revealing than what people give it credit for. I think we can lean a lot about this movie if we get past the sex and killing and maybe we can save ourselves from ending up like Harry (minus the homicidal tendencies).
Completely unrelated though, I do enjoy the little point it makes about the death penalty: “Let me ask you something Mr. Liberal. What if this psycho got a hold of your wife or girlfriend… what would you do?”