House II: The Second Story (1987) Reviewed

After the modest success of House comes a sequel that no one saw despite a wide theatrical release. Of course when a movie’s most recognizable star is Cliff from Cheers it’s doomed to obscurity. Thing is, of the entire confused House series, this is easily the most spirited and inventive. Combining elements of 50s-style prehistoric adventure with old West cowboy action and ancient haunted house clichés, House II manages to create a flawed but fun fantasy that is almost wholly unique. It’s not much of a horror movie though. Arye Gross is the new owner of an inherited family mansion that is also the portal to…um…other worlds. There’s some nonsense about a magic Aztec skull and a “cute” couple of creatures that function as poorly-designed distractions. Television character actor, Royal Dano, is fun as Gross’ recently exhumed miner forty-niner grandfather. John Ratzenberger (Cheers’ Cliff) shows up in a funny role similar to the one played by bar-stool buddy, George Wendt in the original House. Bill Maher appears in a supporting role. Though awkwardly executed, House II has a lot of you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me moments that are sometimes inspired and sometimes unbelievably weird. I happen to own a Marvel comic book tie-in for House II from my less critical youth. How’s that for an obscure and unwanted comic book collectible?
** ½

~ by Number5ive on February 19, 2010.

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