Dark House 

have you believe.

"Re-Animator" ringleader Jeffrey Combs stars as Walston Ray (get it, "My Favorite Martian" fans?), the nation's premier haunted-house showman. This season, he's looking to set up shop in an abandoned foster home where the headmistress (Diane Salinger) went nuts years ago and killed seven kids, before sticking her hands down the whirring sink disposal.

Walston and crew have outfitted the place with a slew of high-tech holograms, so that visitors will face evil clowns, female vampires and hungry zombies that aren't really there. He's also hired a group of local theater actors to serve as hosts. One of them, the suicidal Claire (Meghan Ory), is reluctant because she survived Miss Darrode's slaughter and has been messed up ever since.

Claire has good reason to fear, because Miss Darrode's ghost remains there and hacks into Walston's computer system operating the attraction, thereby turning the virtual-reality spooks into reality. Hey, credible science this is not.

But fun it is. If not for the bloody CGI and the constant F-bombs, it could pass as an old-fashioned gimmick film. It's certainly rooted in that spirit.

Aside from the aforementioned Combs and Ory, several others deliver performances on a higher level than such independent horror efforts get. Of particular note are Bevin Prince and Danso Gordon. And Salinger "? who'll always be Simone in "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" to me "? is effectively creepy.

Writer/director Darin Scott has done other credible work in the field before, penning "Tales From the Hood" and "From a Whisper to a Scream." This effort may not be scary, but it's also not stupid. "?Rod Lott

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