Dr. Markway, doing research to prove the existence of ghosts, investigates Hill House, a large, eerie mansion with a lurid history of violent death and insanity. With him are the skeptical young Luke, who stands to inherit the house, the mysterious and clairvoyant Theodora and the insecure Eleanor, whose psychic abilities make her feel somehow attuned to whatever spirits inhabit the old mansion. As time goes by it becomes obvious that they have gotten more than they bargained for as the ghostly presence in the house manifests itself in horrific and deadly ways.
On their singles and EPs, the Horrors proved they'd done their post-punk and freakbeat homework. With their debut album, Strange House, they push their sound forward, distill it to its rawest essence, and give it a few funhouse mirror twists and turns for good measure. Almost half of the songs on the album already appeared on previous Horrors releases, but the ever-so-slightly cleaner production here gives more definition to their black-on-black sound. The band kicks off Strange House by revisiting their cover of Screaming Lord Sutch's "Jack the Ripper," which begins at a zombie-slow pace, then suddenly speeds up halfway through, transforming into a hurtling roller coaster of a song that makes a great introduction to Strange House's mix of campy humor, energy, and menace. With its dive-bombing noise barely held together by Faris Badwan's shouting and the faintest hint of a melody, "Sheena Is a Parasite" is still the Horrors' best and most radical song, although several other tracks here rival its black-hearted thrills.