House 2: The Second Story (1987)

house_ii_the_second_story1 Although this is pretty much a sequel in name only, it shares a surprising amount with its predecessor. Same writer, same producer, and a cast member from “Cheers” (although it’s a different one here). It also shares one of those scenes, that never happens in real life but is a staple of movies – in this case, that thing where someone just invites themselves to stay at your house and never leaves. Two names I was pleased to see at the beginning were Arye Gross and John Ratzenberger, both solid comic actors. A name I was less pleased to see was Bill Maher, who, before he became a sort of right-wing Jon Stewart (sorry, “libertarian”, which basically means a right-winger who wants to smoke pot) had a bit of a career in films like this and “Cannibal Women In The Avocado Jungle Of Death” – luckily, he’s not in this for too long. Gross is Jesse, whose parents were murdered by some supernatural entity when he was a baby, and he finally decides to move back in – his girlfriend Kate works for a record company and, it can safely be said, isn’t too fond of the old place. 2966 The supernatural shenanigans in this movie centre round a crystal skull, and the person it’s buried with, Jesse’s great-great-grandfather (called “Gramps” by everyone). When Jesse’s friend Charlie and his wannabe singer girlfriend Amy move in, the two men get to exploring the old house, and dig up Gramps, who it turns out is a friendly zombie. With him and the crystal skull back in place above the fireplace – oh, the house is actually a temple of some sort – all sorts of stuff starts happening. A jungle grows in their guest room, which has dinosaurs in it, mysterious figures keep trying to steal the skull back, and Jesse has to hide the zombies, the baby dinosaur bird and proto-dog which accompanied him back to the house, from his girlfriend, her record company friends and eventually the police. Hopefully that’s not too confusing ( I even left a few bits and bobs out). “House 2” is basically a straight comedy, with the plot backbone being one that could have come from a horror film – although there’s no blood and, aside from the last battle, nothing particularly scary. There’s some great farce and the fish-out-of-water elements as Charlie and Jesse get deeper and deeper into the world of crystal skulls, magic jungles and undead cowboys are really well done too, plus you’ve got Gramps who is a hilarious presence. The funniest character of all, though, is Ratzenberger as Bill, whose business card reads “Electrician & Adventurer”. When he’s trying to repair the wiring and reveals a large black hole, and delivers the line “looks like you got an alternate universe in there, or something” the same way you’d discuss a loose light fitting, it immediately improves the film (and it was already pretty decent). house2drinkin It’s a film absolutely packed with fun stuff happening, although there’s a few too many instances of them leaving the crystal skull somewhere for it to get immediately stolen back by the bad guys. it’s a weird mashup of genres, too, so kudos to Full Moon regular Mac Ahlberg for capturing them all well – you can tell I’ve seen too many of their films when I start to recognise the cinematographer’s name. Plus, the two puppet models – the pterodactyl and the worm-dog (so cute!) are pretty well done too. I can understand why this film didn’t do terribly well on release. Horror-comedies tend to struggle, and this is way more a comedy than it is a horror, another factor that probably played against it. It’s currently ranking 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, which indicates the reviewers who covered it were annoyed it wasn’t the thing they were after. Who knows? But they’re definitely wrong, because it’s a strange, baggy, funny, and really well-made film, and I’d definitely recommend it. house2ratz Weirdly, writer / director Ethan Wiley only made two movies in the next 20 years (this was his first directing credit, and part 1 was his first writing credit), although he seems to have been working more steadily since then. Shame, as I think these two films are at least interesting enough to lead to more work. Makes you wonder what people do with such huge gaps in their resume – was he working in a coffee shop? Jail? Did he turn to his first love, the jazz flute?   Rating: thumbs up

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2 thoughts on “House 2: The Second Story (1987)

  1. Pingback: House 4: The Repossession (1992) |

  2. Pingback: The ISCFC vs. Horror Franchises |

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