Coroner’s Report: The Substitute


thesubstitute_dvdStill traveling through time in my WayBack-Machine, we finally get around to The Substitute from Ghosthouse Underground.    Around the web, this was seemingly one of the more well received installments of the collection, garnering some lofty praise that is, unfortunately, mostly undeserved.  Despite what you have read, the pedal is never pressed to the floor, nor is this Faculty-esque flick ever really surprising.  That said, it still is mildly entertaining and easier to watch than some of the other dreck with the Ghosthouse Underground banner on it.

The story follows a group of young students with a focus on the shy Carl as they try to cope with a mean-spirited teacher named Ulla Harms.  True to her malicious sounding name, Ulla is the substitute from hell, forcing weaklings to climb the gym rope, insulting the appearance of children, and mocking the death of a child’s mother.  She also just so happens to be an alien, capable of sprouting tentacles, taking over bodies, controlling and reading minds, and flirting with fathers.  The children, of course, are immediately onto her scheme and set about trying to convince their parents she’s an evil face sucking creature from beyond.


I think maybe two people died.  I’m also certain a chicken was killed.  This isn’t a movie that will satisfy your bloodlust.


A chicken is eaten alive, though it’s not graphic in the least.  Very tame in this department.


Paprika Steen plays Ulla Harms and despite rapidly approaching 45 years of age, puts the M.I.L.F. in “Man that lady is a M.I.L.F.”  But you don’t see anything and other than her, not much to look at.



Kids will also find evidence of an alien or monster invasion approximately 12 days before any adult will.  Personally, I take anything a child under 14 tells me as gospel.


The Substitute isn’t a bad film, it just isn’t a very engaging one.  It actually took me two nights to finish this movie as I found myself drifting off to sleep both times.  The highlight of the film is assuredly in Paprika Steen’s performance.  She gets to play both the cruel and menacing teacher, but tempers it with moments of levity.  Really a praise worthy performance on her part.  The child actors are all pretty good, though as with all of the other foreign imports, this Ghosthouse Underground title has dubbed dialog that won’t be winning any awards.

There are rumors of an American remake in the pipeline, which could hopefully fix a few of the problems with the story which, at its core, has an interesting premise.  The movie pounds you over the head with the notion that Earth and humans are different from other creatures in the universe because of our ability to empathize and love.  That makes our race strong.  Aliens, however, don’t have this ability and are constantly locked in a state of war against each other.  One of those aliens assume the key to peace and love is to kidnap some humans and possibly learn some lessons along the way.  Well, these kids really aren’t in the mood to be kidnapped, so that goes out the window pretty quick.  The extraterrestrials probably also didn’t bother to actually check out the Earth all too heavily, considering on a long time scale, we too have been constantly embroiled in some sort of violent action against each other since Cain punked Abel with a rock – and probably before that too, since cavemen were dicks.  Murder – so easy a … ah forget it.

Either way, that is definitely an interesting approach that we haven’t really seen before.  An alien, still mostly malevolent, that has some sort of moral goal to achieve or that wants to change.  I would like to see a movie where the alien is greeted as a menace but really isn’t an evil creature and go that route.  Sort of like Alien Nation.  I’d totally be behind more of that story coming to the front.  Also, inter-species intergalactic love making is probably really awesome.  All in all, a movie that doesn’t quite get you fully invested, but among the better of the Ghosthouse Underground titles.

Grade: C-

Did you see The Substitute?  What did you think?

Robert Fure is many things: horror expert, ruggedly handsome man of the world, witty prose composer, and writer of his own biography page. Beneath the bravado is a scared little boy, ready to grow into an awesome man and make lies about a scared little boy inside of him. Wait a minute...

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