(Release Date: August 28, 1987)
(Premiere Date: May 14, 1987 [West Germany])
To be fair, however, there are worse infestations... I mean, I guess I could use a more spacious house, to a degree, but not if it includes Crystal Skulls that open the doorways to Kingdoms beyond just about any horking thing that Dr. Indiana Jones ever thought up... well, until the next sequel!
Yes, Yes, folks, "Sequels" are the thing for today's whacked-out review from beyond the boundaries of good taste. Peer your beautiful brown eyes into this here follow up to 1986's House, which stood as one of the most comedic Haunted House movies of all time... that is until 1987's House II: The Second Story was released. Yeah, how briefly you held that crown, House! I'll bet the guy who wrote that film was pissed... except for the fact that one of the two clowns who wrote House was Ethan Wiley, the same clown who wrote all of and directed House 2!
Not a bad gig, if Smilin' Sean S. Cunningham does say so himself! And where there's Cunningham, there's Harry Manfredini composing the score! Now, while this may seem like just another retread or re-gathering of the talent from the first flick, Wiley and company avoid remaking House here. Instead, what we get is a similar film with all of the strange blends of Horror and Comedy, all surrounding a weird-ass Haunted House with a dumbstruck, well-meaning dude and his wild-child amigos dragging him all over the gosh darned place. However similar this may seem, House II shares almost no continuity with the first film and no characters whatsoever. It is, indeed, a Second Story!
This time we meet Jesse McLaughlin (Arye Gross) who, surprise, surprise, has just inherited a wicked-huge house, part classic American Architecture and part Aztec Weirdness. Then again, he may not have noticed much of that because of the fact that he's dating Kate, who is played by the very attractive Lar Park Lincoln! If that's not enough of a distraction, his goof-ball best buddy Charlie (Jonathan Stark) shows up with HIS even hotter girlfriend Jana (Amy Yasbeck), who hangs around this house singing songs in her little pink panties and tiny little shirt.
Okay, I'm missing the part where this is a "Horror Movie" again. Sakes Alive, baby, baby!
Things start to get weird about the time that ol' Jesse starts to uncover more about his family's past, which is, of course, also that of the house itself! It all seems to surround his Great-Great Grandfather (and namesake) Jesse (AKA: "Gramps") (Royal Dano) a wild-west gunslinger who may have met his demise while fighting over a Crystal Skull... Which is... right over there... Hmmm... And hey, wow, it has the power to bring Gramps back to Mummy Life! Whoa! That's not as great as Amy in her undies, but that's pretty darned cool, I'd say! Especially when he brings forth the secrets of the past and future with him.
Those secrets may or may not include ancient zombie cowboys, bizarre portals into other dimensions, the old west, the older Mexico and perhaps even... the plumbing! Hell, it might even include a record deal for Jana's band Puce Glitz and the AVOIDERS, courtesy of Kate's boss John (Bill Maher)! Yep, that's a pretty full story with a pretty freakin' full cast... hell, if you look closely you'll see Kane Hodder and Ronn Carroll along with such hotties as Devin DeVasquez and Jayne Modean!
But, damn it... no "Norm from Cheers"! What kind of House Movie would... HEY! Wait a minute, there's CLIFFY! Yep, John Ratzenberger plays Bill the Electrician, a very non-Cliff role, seeing as how this contractor is Kung-Fu trained and is wilder than your average hell-harrower!
However hilarious and quality House 2, really is, it is also much more of a comedy than a horror flick and even manages to be somewhat (gasp) "Kid Friendly"! Oh, there are a few scary moments, but the stop-motion animation and puppetry here lends itself much more to a cartoon than an experiment in monstrous terror. A certain baby pterodactyl and a "caterpuppy" both spring laughingly to mind! It could work great for the kiddos, indeed!
And, yes, it works quite well for adults as well, considering all. The effects may be scattershot, but with a name like Phil Tippett in the credits, you have to know there's something cool going on. By the same token, however, often Wiley and Cunningham seem to lean on the conceit that this is comedy, much more than even the original House was! In that respect, the audience is expected to overlook fizzled plot points, deleted characters and meandering, self-indulgent inclusions. Not that any of this reduces House 2 into a poor quality film. In fact, it's a worthy sequel and a must for haunted house fans who aren't afraid to have some fun!
Three Stars out of Five for House II: The Second Stor[e]y, a chip off the old Housing Crisis. It wasn't quite the financial boon for New World Pictures that the first film was, but it's got its boom in all the right places, especially when it comes to bizarre comedy and surreal landscapes of the Jumanji kind. On the other hand, seeing as how it was retroactively renamed in Italy to La Casa 6 and forced into association with a series of BAD ITALIAN Cash-Ins on the great The Evil Dead series of films, you have to know that it's made better just by comparison to that crap. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm ready to step into a parallel universe to see what's on the other side. Hmmm... looks like the gang from Cheers! I'll be drunk in the next reel. Seek me there!
Sorry, that just came to mind, thought I'd say that.
You know what else sucks? More of my Reviews.
At least that's what I heard some random group of High-School kids saying outside of the theatre I saw Inglourious Basterds in.
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