Friday, June 03, 2016

House II: The Second Story (1987)








DIRECTOR:
 Ethan Wiley

WRITERS:

Ethan Wiley
Fred Dekker

CAST:

Arye Gross
Jonathan Stark
Bill Maher
Royal Dano
John Ratzenberger
Amy Yasbeck
Lar Park-Lincoln
Dean Cleverdon
Lenora May
Dwier Brown

PLOT:

Jesse and his girlfriend Kate move into an oversized old mansion that has been a part of Jesse's family for generations. When Jesse and Kate decide to delve into the history of 
his new residence, he discovers that his great-great-grandfather was buried with a Mayan crystal skull. Jesse decides to unearth his remains which in turn awakens the old enemy of his great-great-grandfather who will stop at nothing to get revenge and claim the crystal skull for himself.







When it comes to the realm of horror. I've personally found it of rare occurrence that the second outing in a horror movie franchise lives up to the original film. We do have a list of exceptions with films like Dawn Of The Dead, Scream 2, The Conjuring 2, The Devil Rejects, Hostel: Part II, Final Destination 2, Child's Play 2, and Evil Dead 2. This is just a handful of the sequels that come to mind when thinking positively about the horror movie sequel. In most other cases, I've found that the film will usually not get close to reaching the same heights.

As House holds a special place in my heart, you could say that I'm a pretty big fan of the original entry. I went into House II: The Second Story with high hopes that we'd get a second outing that gave us another haunted house filled with demonic ghouls. I even crossed my fingers that House II would up the ante regarding gore and violence to really show that this sequel means business. After watching this movie, I was sat there scratching my head at what I just witnessed. I can't even begin to fathom the astronomical mess that is House II: The Second Story.

This sequel starts off the same way as the first film. Someone moves into a large old mansion where strange things begin to happen. Sound familiar? Well, it is for the first three minutes, and this is where the similarities end for this sequel. House II quickly flies off its trajectory and heads so far off course that it may as well be in space as it's no longer of this Earth. This sequel is such a departure from the original movie that it no longer belongs to the comedy horror genre. This is a mashup of so many different genres that it feels like you're watching a car crash unfold. I couldn't look away.

I find it utterly bizarre that both writers of the original are responsible for this sequel. Both Fred Dekker and Ethan Wiley who wrote the original movie seem to have spent their paycheques from the first film on a ton of crack and acid to come up with the synopsis and visuals for House II. It's the only way I can understand the film that I just witnessed. It really needs to be seen at least once in your life just to see how wildly left-field the sequel is and what not to do when making a horror movie sequel.


Let's talk about the blending of genres. What is marketed as a haunted house horror quickly turns into a mash-up of Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull meets 1925's The Lost World? Add a dash of Adventure and a splash of those old time Westerns and wallah, you've built yourself a bomb. None of these genres worked well together. It feels like everything was thrown at the wall and whatever stuck, the two writers put it in the final film on top of a thinly veiled plot.

The movie is completely dry when it comes to any tension, gore, and bloodshed. The first film tried to blend comedy and horror in equal measures and even succeeded at being pretty scary when I was younger, this film doesn't even try. The movie features a zombie or two but plays everything for laughs. This is what killed the movie for me. The fact that the movie doesn't even resemble the original in any way, shape or form kills the vibe completely.

House II also throws in an array of creatures, shame none of them come close to the original movies creature effects and work. Instead of the creepy and ghoulish rotting hag or the out for revenge zombie soldier. The sequel gives us pterodactyls as well as other dinosaurs, a half puppy, half caterpillar hybrid, zombie cowboys and miners and Aztec warriors who like to sacrifice virgins and a zombie horse. I can't even make this stuff up. Everything is just so out of place it becomes laughable.


The oddities don't stop there with this sequel. How about the Benny Hill-inspired tune as a zombie cowboy drives a convertible while drunk. We also have the scene where an Aztec warrior walks into a party painted like a WWE wrestler only to punch his way out seconds later. How about the shootout in an old Western town. A zombie feeding a Puppypillar hybrid with a baby bottle? Even the subplot where Bill Maher plays this seedy record executive who shows up to flirt with the protagonist's girlfriend and we John Ratzenberger from Cheers playing an electrician with a Turkish sword who can fight Aztec warriors and teleport? Sound odd? It's because it's the very definition of the word.

Lastly, the one aspect that I enjoyed about House II: The Second Story is the acting. Shocking, I know. Arye Gross and Jonathan Stark have great chemistry as the mates who need to recapture the crystal skull before all hell breaks loose. Both play off each other really well, and their comedic timing is the best thing about the film. Bill Maher and John Ratzenberger make odd guest appearances, and it was great to see Amy Yasbeck from Problem Child in an early role.







DEATH TOLL:
 
7

BLOOD AND GORE:

- Someone gets a bullet to the leg, arm and chest.
- A Zombies' head is blown off (Dust and bone are shown).
- A couple of Aztec warriors are kicked into a pit.

(More violence is shown in an episode of Charmed)







If you were ever under the impression that Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull was the worst attempt at showing the pursuit for the mysterious crystal skull, you'd be mistaken. House II: The Second Story is staking its claim on that title. The movie is branded with the House name but is so vastly different from the original that it's not even in the same realm of horror anymore. What we are left here with is a mishmash of ideas that can only be contributed to the writers taking massive hits of LSD. I've seen quite a bit of love for the movie online, but I just couldn't get into this film. Had this been more in line with the original film, I may have enjoyed this film a lot more than I did. A misfire of epic proportions.

3 comments:

  1. Great review. It's a scathing review of 'House 2' but plenty of reasons are cited to reveal how the reviewer got there. Honesty in movie reviews are refreshing. I'm a huge IJ trilogy fan but don't get me started on the dire IJ & The Crystal Skull! So House 2 also has crystal skulls & the film is a disappointment too. House 2 has a higher death count than the original film yet the reviewer has found greater violence in an episode of Charmed! Ha, ha! Proves that death count alone does not equate with a horror film being any good. I've never seen House 2 & based on this review I've decided that I won't waste my time watching it.

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  2. The film features a Crystal Skull that everyone is after just like Indiana Jones. Only Indiana Jones does it a lot more successfully and that's coming from someone who wasn't the biggest fan of Kingdom Of Crystal Skull on a recent repeated viewing.

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