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House II: The Second Story (1987)

Okay, so this one suffered a little with the effect of rose tinted glasses.

House II

Completed unrelated to the first House movie, The Second Story focuses on events within a different house, and while riffing on ideas from the first movie, doesn't go in the same direction. Jesse (Arye Gross - Castle) has inherited the house in this one, and decides to go and stay with girlfriend Kate (Lar Park Lincoln - Knots Landing), and friends Charlie (Jonathan Stark - According to Jim (creator)) and Lana (Amy Yasbeck - Wings). When they settle in Jesse finds evidence in the house that a skull, discovered by his Great, Great, Great, Great, Grandfather is missing, and that it was supposed to have mystical powers. So in a fairly big leap, they exhume his body from the burial plot out back, finding both the skull and zombie Gramps (Royal Dano - Twin Peaks).

Royal Dano

At this point, you realise that the movie is completely bereft of horror in favor of humor. Not a bad thing, but it isn't great. Anyway.

Gramps goes on to explain that he had a falling out with his partner over the skull, and he turned evil (or more evil, or whatever) and that they must protect the skull from him, and anyone else who wants to take it. Cue, shenanigans. Taking ideas from the first movie, the house now becomes more of a player, with different rooms leading to different points in time, with cavemen, and dinosaurs trying to steal the skull, along with a Mayan ritual to kill a virgin, and take the skull. It all culminates with Gramps partner, Slim (Dean Cleverdon - Sundown), turning up to battle it out with Jesse and the gang. When the law shows up, Slim is gunned down, Gramps passes away, and the house burns leaving the heroes to escape to the old west, via time portal.

Slim, Charlie, Jesse, and Gramps

The immediate flaw with the movie is the heavy reliance on humor, which, at times is extremely childish for lack of a better word. At one point a baby pterodactyl steals the skull, another there is a puppy-caterpillar creature. Both of these suit The Neverending Story better than an adult horror. That said there are moments that shine, and the underlying movie isn't bad.

Ayre Gross / John Ratzenburger

Shine definitely comes in the form of John Ratzenburger's turn as Electrician / Adventurer, Bill, the cool wisecracking hero. When Slim turns up he brings the horror, even if it is only for the last few minutes of the film. Ayre Gross is a likable buffoon of a hero, and Jonathon Stark plays the comedy sidekick with aplomb.

The flaws come from the story. It errs too much on the comedy aspects of the first movie - missing the point of horror/comedy. Sadly, I feel this all falls on Writer/Director, Ethan Wiley. The first movie was written by Fred Dekker (who also wrote Monster Squad) and Wiley adapted the screenplay. Here Wiley is responsible for both, and sadly didn't judge the balance well.

It's not a remarkable film, but an average one - watch the trailer below, even that knows where its strength lies.

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