House II: The Second Story (1987)

I really didn’t like the first House so went into this sequel with a lot of trepidation. Imagine my surprise then to find that this is a far superior movie in almost every way. It really has nothing to do with the previous film – a new house, a new cast – other than the central idea of a house being more than meets the eye. The blend of comedy and horror is better handled and the effects take centre stage with a level of care in the execution the original film sorely lacked. It boasts a nutty mythology involving Mayan temples and crystal skulls and one of the supporting characters is an undead treasure hunter called Gramps. The set pieces are crazier with one extended sequence resulting in an oddball trip to the Jurassic age where a caterpillar dog is recruited permanently into the ensemble. Clearly Second Story does itself a lot of favours by indulging in weird tangents whenever the opportunity arises, something the first House suffered without.

The cast is strong too. Genre fans will get a buzz from spotting Lar Park Lincoln (Friday the 13th: Part VII‘s telekentic heroine) and Amy Yasbeck (that stunning red head from The Mask) among the faces on screen, not to mention an appearance from a pre-fame Bill Maher as well as John Ratzenburger stealing the show about haflway through as Bill, electrician and “part time adventurer”. He shows up for about ten minutes and delivers all the film’s best lines in machine gun succession. He is one of those characters which totally validates the film’s very existence. If Second Story completely sucked, at least we got Bill the electrician. 

But it doesn’t completely suck! I had a real good time with this dumb, goofy flick. It’s a funhouse of undead giggles and mid-tier 80s genre filmmaking. There’s a bunch of puppet creatures, make-up effects and all that other good stuff. If House made me wonder why the hell this franchise went four films deep, The Second Story made me wonder why it didn’t run longer. Good shit.

Watched on Arrow blu-ray

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