Sunday, December 9, 2012

Needs More Katt

I seem to have bad luck with the House sequels.

See, you probably don’t know this, but quite a few months ago, I sat down to watch The Horror Show with the full intention of sharing my thoughts in this familiar place. I was even more enthused when I realized it was occasionally considered an in-name-only threequel to the bouncy William Kattastic House. 

(Random thought: the next installment should indeed be about a haunted bouncy house)

For whatever reason, I just couldn’t get a review written. I bumbled around a little bit, learned one lesson (“If a foot’s frying in one deep fryer, you can probably guess the rest of the parts are frying in another”) and decided to abandon ship, leaving Lance Henrikson and Michelle Pfeiffer’s less famous sister on their own.

Cut to a few months later when the horror comedy mood struck me hard enough to queue up the ACTUAL House sequel, a film that proves its pedigree by a) sharing its predecessor’s theme and b) also featuring a barfly from Cheers. Although House II: The Second Story (possible favorite subtitle ever) doesn’t actually connect to the original in terms of character, it is a little more official in terms of its franchise pedigree.

And once again, I feel incredibly apathetic writing about it.

Quick Plot: Our prologue introduces us to a married couple handing off their infant son to another while they return to their Victorian style home to confront what can only be described as a ghost cowboy looking for a crystal skull.

Already better than Indy 4

When the pair refuses him, our ghost cowboy shoots them both and sends us 25 years later to the rocking ‘80s present, where Jesse (Ellen’s Arye Gross) and his girlfriend Kate (the telepathic heroine of the seventh Friday the 13th) are now moving into the long-abandoned home. Before they even have a chance to find the nearest pizza delivery, their pals Charlie and pre-Problem Child Amy Yasbeck drunkenly drive on over to open up all sorts of house secrets, including the burial location of Jesse’s namesake and great grandpa.

Because alcohol generally makes us do really awesome things, Jesse and Charlie grab some shovels and exhume Gramps (played with the same bumpkin swagger as Royal Dano’s one year later role in Killer Klowns From Outer Space) in the hopes of finding the famed skull. Gramps turns out to be rather spry--if a bit crusty--and turns into the life of the Halloween party, stealing the show from a young Bill Maher. When a big beefy leotarded giant crashes the festivities to hijack the relic, Jesse and Charlie end up traversing the alternate dimensions hidden within the house.

Stop motion animated monsters wander, weird dino bird things squawk, and the cutest worm since Labyrinth barks its way around to help protect Gramps from the ghost cowboy he apparently killed a hundred years or so earlier. There’s also a random time warp into an Incan virgin sacrifice (maybe?), a blond being traded for another and back again, a whole lot of slapsticky skull dropping, and time travel.

You might say this is a busy film.

House II: The Second Story shares the same horror comedy vibe as its original, minus the whole PTSD Vietnam veteran angle and dead kid thing. In other words, it’s a little lighter. With its cartoon violence and colorful creatures, House II actually feels more in line with an episode of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse than The Evil Dead.

I should like House II, and I’m fairly certain that on another day, I just might. Like the original, it boasts a gleeful assortment of bizarrely fun practical monsters, plus an even goofier tone that just begs to be contagious. For whatever reason though, I found the antics somewhat tiresome. Most days, the sight of a prehistoric worm dog would make me smile. Today, I just yawned.

High Points
Prehistoric worm dog!

Aside from the prehistoric worm dog, House II’s best moments come courtesy of Cliff Clifton himself, John Ratzenberger playing the world’s most efficient electrician who also happens to have Michonne-like skills when fencing Incan spirits

Low Points
A gal can only watch so many interceptions via dinosaur of magical crystal skulls before she just stops caring

Lessons Learned
Even in the late 80s, car phones got no reception in haunted locations

Neither mummies nor baby pterodactyls make for a good excuse when caught getting friendly with your ex

‘Sir’ is a term reserved for politicians

All old folksy men played by Royal Dano in the late '80s had a lot of questions for tarnation

House II fits a very particular niche of ‘80s horror comedies, and by those terms, it’s a fun watch. I would certainly recommend fans of that era check this one out via Instant Watch, even if I seemed in this viewing to be immune to its considerable charms. I’ll chalk it up to the weather, because on a typical day, I fully endorse old grizzled zombie prospectors going on Abe Simpson-esque rants while being fueled by endless liquor. Maybe I’m the weirdo in this scenario.


  1. The weird thing about The Horror Show is that the opening is crazy disgusting and disturbing, but it has a ridiculous super happy ending, like somebody watching a movie where a guy beheads a little girl demands an ending where love conquers all. Off topic, I know.

  2. But you're totally right! It kinda fits with the first House, which is super goofy in tone but also has all these sidebars regarding Katt's dead son and PTSD from Vietnam. The "House" series has a very complicated relationship with dead kids.