As mentioned in my review of part one in the quadrilogy as a series of horror films House somehow passed me by and so after visiting the first story in the Arrow Video Complete Collection I set off to its neighbor, House II The Second Story.
Not set in the same place and baring very little relation to the previous instalment save the idea that the abodes in both served as portals to another world bringing through supernatural beings this 1987 horror comedy is written and directed by the man behind the first films script Ethan Wiley.
Plot wise there is also a similarity as the movie opens with the main character inheriting the aforementioned house 25 years after his parents are murdered in this strange lavish eccentric mansion by a mysterious undead cowboy packing a six gun and a deep hatred for the family.
Moving in with his fun loving friends and girlfriend the orphaned Jesse (Arye Gross from Ellen and Minority Report) is entranced by the temple like building and throws himself into discovering the history of his new home.
Finding an old photo album with a picture of his namesake and great great grandpa Jesse in front of a Mayan temple holding a bejeweled crystal skull he takes his buddy Charlie (Jonathan Stark from Fright Night) to see if his relative was buried with the mysterious treasure.
When they dig up the grave however they find not just the ancient artifact but Gramps (Royal Dano) himself who has been kept alive all this time by the magical in the stolen item. Taking both the skull and the 170 year old mummified cowboy relation home the pair unwittingly open themselves up to a whole heap of horror infused trouble as every evil entity including the evil Slim Reeser (Dean Cleverdon) who killed Jesse’s folks comes to the house looking for the all-powerful skull.
My reservation with House was that it didn’t know what it wanted to be blending a haunted house horror with a Vietnam War movie and a gross out comedy via a psychological breakdown drama. With House II these questions of genre disappear quickly as after a creepy opening the film descends into an all-out horror comedy adventure romp with its tongue firmly in its cheek throughout.
With several sinister stereotypical villainous characters attempting to take the crystal skull from the strange house including a beef cake caveman, some Mayan tribes people performing a sacrificial rite and the gun tooting arch enemy of Gramps himself, Jesse and Charlie journey from the Jurassic era to the old west fighting monsters, pterodactyl’s and more throughout the film in more and more wacky adventures.
If the spirits in the first House spawned from the main characters fears and anxieties it seems the crazy chaos of the second story could be inspired by Jesse’s childhood fantasy’s as he gets to play a variety of heroic roles defeating dinosaurs, saving virgins and dueling at sundown all to save the skull and his ghost granddad.
Again the effects are well done and the cast are all solid however the script feels more like a series of short adventures strung together rather than a complete film. Standing out from all of this is an amazing cameo from John Ratzenberger (the second Cheers cast member to appear in a House film) as Bill whose card calls him an electrician and adventurer. By far the best bit of the film his character deserved his own spin off for sure.
Throwaway fun and by far a better crystal skull movie than the travesty that is the fourth Indian Jones film House II is an entertaining oddity that some horror fans will love. Coming with a ton of extras including Ethan Wiley’s audio commentary and a brand spanking new documentary with tons of cast and crew if you love crazy 80’s cult comedy horror House II will be right up your street.