Friday, October 7, 2011

Film Review: HOUSE II: THE SECOND STORY (1987, Ethan Wiley)

Stars: 2.5 of 5.
Running Time: 88 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Arye Gross (SOUL MAN, MINORITY REPORT), Jonathan Stark (FRIGHT NIGHT, PROJECT X), Royal Dano (THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY, THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES), Bill Maher (RATBOY, CANNIBAL WOMEN IN THE AVOCADO JUNGLE OF DEATH), John Ratzenberger (CHEERS, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK), and Kane Hodder (Jason in FRIDAY THE 13THs parts VII through X). Music by Harry Manfredini (FRIDAY THE 13TH, HOUSE). Produced by Sean S. Cunningham (FRIDAY THE 13TH, DEEPSTAR SIX, HOUSE). Written and directed by Ethan Wiley (CHILDREN OF THE CORN V, co-writer of HOUSE I). Inspired by an original story by Fred Dekker (HOUSE, THE NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, THE MONSTER SQUAD, ROBOCOP 3).
Tag-line: "It's gotten even weirder." AND "Frightening Strikes TWICE!"
Best one-liner: "Look at me. I'm a 170-year-old fart. I'm a goddamn zombie."

Compared to the greatness of HOUSE I, it's difficult to admit that HOUSE II: THE SECOND STORY doesn't really hold up despite possessing one of the greatest subtitles in memory, recent or otherwise. There's also the stroke of utter genius in casting John "Cliff Clavin" Ratzenberger in a similar role to the one that George "Norm Peterson" Wendt played in HOUSE I, but unfortunately the genius sorta ends there.

"Eh, ya know Normie, it's a little known fact that the HOUSE series is so deeply interwoven with CHEERS."

Also, it really has nothing to do with HOUSE I aside from the fact that it takes place inside a "house," which I guess would make more than a few movies unofficial sequels to HOUSE. Furthermore, it Italy it was released as LA CASA 6, which means the ersatz Italian film canon considered it to be EVIL DEAD 6! (Which for the record goes like this 1. Sam Raimi's EVIL DEAD, 2. Sam Raimi's EVIL DEAD II, 3. Umberto Lenzi's GHOSTHOUSE, 4. Fabrizio Laurenti's WITCHERY, 5. Claudio "TROLL 2" Fragasso's BEYOND DARKNESS, 6. HOUSE II: THE SECOND STORY.) So wrap your head around that for a moment.

Anyway, I didn't intend for a full review, I just recently discovered my screening notebook from five or six years ago and shall reprint the slightly downcast entry for HOUSE II:

"So I'm sitting down on the couch, getting all amped up to watch "HOUSE II: THE SECOND STORY." Hey, that's a pretty good subtitle. Almost as good as "ARTHUR 2: ON THE ROCKS." Man, I am in the mood for a horror movie. Okay, I'm watching it now. I'm pretty excited. Alright, I can see this movie is going for laughs. I like some laughs in my horror. There were more than a few laughs in "HOUSE I." What the deuce?! It's turning into a Western? Well, that's okay, "HOUSE I" kinda turned into a war movie partway through. Alright, now I can just sit back and relax until William Katt shows up. What? He's not in this? Damn, I guess I should have rented "HOUSE IV: HOME DEADLY HOME." Katt is back for that one. What?! It's not available on DVD?! Now I'm sad. But I can't be too sad, cause I'm watching these two whacky dudes and their dead grandpa cause a ruckus trying to find this crystal skull in HOUSE II: THE SECOND STORY."

Zombie Royal Dano wrote the book on "raisin' a ruckus."

This still might actually be better than INDIANA JONES 4.

-Sean Gill


Henry Swanson's Glasses said...

Pretty bad movie, BUT love the consecutive reviews.

Sean Gill said...


Thank you, sir– things've been kind of a shitstorm lately, but I hope to step it up a tad for the Halloween season!

Jack Thursby said...

Yeah, I appreciate House II isn't a good horror or a good comedy but for some reason I can't stop watching it. It's just so soaked in 80s-ness - cheap rubber masks, random chase plots, yuppie protagonists.

The "Cliff from Cheers" is the best part of the whole thing. If only the rest of the flick was as good as that.

Sean Gill said...


Thanks for stoppin' by. You're right in that if something is soaked in 80's-ness, the watchability factor goes up at least ten-fold, even if its as objectively bad as HOUSE II. Long live rubbery masks, I say!