Death By Cinema – 25 – House II: The Second Story

“If I must just choose the method of my demise, I choose…

Britt

Death By Cinema!” -Britt Rhuart

Day 25 – House II: The Second Story

So, yesterday I watched Nobuhiko Obayashi’s House. Needless to say, it was one of the most batshit insane movies I’ve ever seen and I loved every minute of it. However, it got me thinking of other weird ass films I’ve seen and the first one to pop into my brain was House II: The Second Story. This movie has nothing to do with and is not related at all to the Japanese House. Rather, it was related to an American franchise about a series of haunted houses. There were 4 of these movies according to IMDb. I haven’t seen 3 or 4, but I have seen 1 and 2. The first House is entirely middle of the road, though still somewhat okay. It’s watchable. William Katt and George Wendt are fun in it. But House II: The Second Story… my God, what a fun mess this film is. It has a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, though I don’t feel that’s deserved. I mean, it’s nutty, but it’s fun. Or it is in my memory… let’s see if it holds up!

Random Thoughts While Watching the Film:
Watching the credits, I am reminded both Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death’s Bill Maher and Motel Hell’s John Ratzenberger are in this film. Trust me, I’ll be commenting on both of them.
This weird old west ghost appears in this couple’s house looking for a skull, crystal, if my memory serves. When they don’t give it to him, he shoots them. Years later, their son Jesse, who has no knowledge of the event, comes back.
I do like the set designs, even though Jesse’s girlfriend Kate apparently doesn’t.
Jesse looks through old family photos and finds one of him and his parents. He comments how cute he was. Yeah, except the eyes in the picture are friggin’ black vortexes!
Here we see the first signs this might not be the most serious horror film. Jesse approaches a strange noise in a creepy fashion, opens the door, and an ironing board falls on his head.
Jesse’s best friend Charlie shows up at the house and it’s clear he’s the comic relief of the film.
Yeah, now we get some exposition. Jesse’s great-great-grandfather and outlaw, also named Jesse, found a crystal skull back in the day with his partner, Slim. The skull is hidden somewhere that has untold powers and can give people eternal life. Jesse and Charlie decide to dig up Gramps to find the skull. It’s so damn cheesy… and 80s.
This graveyard has no damn security.
They find the skull with Gramps, but Gramps is alive! Gramps tosses Charlie and Jesse in the grave until they convince him Jesse’s his great great grandson.
So, apparently the skull can control time and space in the house, which is a temple. They are gonna have to protect it from evil.
Actual line: Gramps: “I ain’t gonna die if it’s the last thing I do.”
Actual first line of Bill Maher: “Jesse, you old golf bag!”
Actual dialogue: John (Bill Maher): “Who’s your friend? Bozo the Clown?” Charlie: “Bozo the Death Machine.”
So, Maher’s character is a sleazy record exec. He and Kate steal Charlie’s client/girlfriend.
Gramps is flipping through the channels. “Now you take this Ronald Reagan, he sure is a pansy. He wouldn’t have lasted 10 minutes in the old days.”
After listening to Gramps tell stories for a few hours, Charlie and Jesse walk upstairs to find themselves in a Halloween party.
I’m waiting for some nutty stuff to happen, because I know some stuff is coming, but it’s taking a while. That being said, a jungle just appeared upstairs and a caveman just took the skull, so hopefully it’s coming soon.
Kate hits Jesse thinking he cheated on her. Really, it’s just a misunderstanding, but whatever, we’re not supposed to like her anyway.
Walking through the jungle, they find they’re in a land of dinosaurs inside the house. They retrieve the skull, but it’s stolen by a pterodactyl. They climb a tree to get the skull. Jesse falls from the top of the tree, sending both him and Charlie through the floor, along with the skull, a baby pterodactyl, and caterpuppy. What’s a caterpuppy? Half caterpillar, half puppy. Yes, that exists in this film.
The caterpuppy is pretty cute. Terrible puppet, but cute. Same thing as the pterodactyl, but that looks more like the monster from The Giant Claw.
Seriously, Bill Maher’s character is just the worst. Luckily, if my memory serves, this is the last time we see him in the rest of the movie. He’s even harder to take here than he is in real life.
Are they ever going to explain the caterpuppy?
A couple Aztecs stole the crystal skull and beat up Gramps. BTW, if a lot of these notes sound like I’m just mentioning the plot, that’s because other than the insanity of a pterodactyl and caterpuppy, not much has really happened that’s noteworthy.
Hey, here John Ratzenberger! As I recall, he’s a great character (an electrician), so hopefully this will save the movie. So far, he’s pretty funny.
Actual line: Bill (John Ratzenberger): “I’ve seen enough tragedy that’ll make you want to upchuck in your shorts.”
Ratzenberger has good patter, if nothing else. He proceeds to tear a hole in the wall, leading to another dimension. “Looks like you’ve got some kind of alternate universe in there or something.”
Bill tells them not to go into the wall. When they do, Bill says they might need the help of an expert, and he’s dealt with this before. He reaches into his toolbox and pulls out a freaking sword! Is it wrong I would rather see a backstory on Bill now?
The group runs across the Aztecs about to sacrifice a girl. When they interrupt them, the Aztecs come a sword fight begins. Bill is a goddamn badass!
The guys save the virgin and the skull, leaving Bill behind, but he’s not worried as it’s his “kid’s little league night.” They run out, only to find Bill’s already beaten them out?!? What? Who the hell is this guy?! Bill hands Jesse a card reading Bill Towner, Electrician/Adventurer. Why has this guy not gotten just a ton of spin-off work?
Jesse and Charlie proceed to have a dinner with Jesse’s mummy Gramps, the pterodactyl, the caterpuppy, and the Aztec virgin. You know, as one does.
They take the lid off the plate and the mummy Slim rises out from under it, facing off with Gramps.
Gramps goes to his deathbed and Jesse straps on a six gun looking for Slim. He breaks through a window into the old west. Slim does have a stop motion skeleton horse which is kinda cool.
Jesse and Slim continue their shoot out, traveling between the house and the old west. The cops show up at the house, someone having heard the gunfire.
Jesse manages to destroy Slim after a few shots and once again retrieves the skull, taking it to Gramps.
Actual line: “Did you blow his head off? That’s a good boy. I thought he’d kick your ass.”
Somehow, Slim’s body comes alive again and shoots the police chief, which leads to a shootout with the cops and the house being set on fire.
Jesse travels back to the old west with Charlie, The Aztec Virgin, the pterodactyl, and the caterpuppy. He buries Gramps leaving the crystal skull to mark his grave. Uh… it’s an object of immense power, are you sure you want to just leave it laying? Also, no payoff with John, Kate, or Charlie’s girlfriend? What happened to Bill? Now that they’re in the old west, can they continue traveling through time or what? What’s up with the cops now that they believe Jesse is a psychopath? Nope, no explanations, the movie just kinda ends.

This movie was not as much fun as I remembered it. This one was bad. It was boring in places and could have been handled a lot better. I remembered this film being a lot more crazy than it actually was. It doesn’t seem to know what tone to take as it either goes from being a minor horror comedy to a straight comedy to a drama to a western. Really, the movie is all about wasted potential.

That being said, it looked nice and polished. The makeup was fairly good, as were some of the effects. The directing was… okay. Overall, it’s a watchable movie, but I can’t really recommend it, unless you want to see a caterpuppy. Honestly though, this would have worked much better as a TV pilot. Heck, it actually broke down like a TV pilot, plus another couple episodes. Had it been properly developed as such, it might have been one of the better cult TV shows of the 80s. It actually reminded me of the Friday the 13th TV show quite a bit. But whatever, it’s still a better crystal skull movie than the Indiana Jones one.

Tomorrow, I’ll look at Mario Bava’s Black Sabbath!

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