House II: The Second Story (1987) Dir. Steve Miner
I am not what most people would consider a fan of horror films. My exposure to "classics" of the genre has been minimal at best. I've only seen one Nightmare on Elm Street film (Dream Warriors), never watched any of the Friday the 13th series and closest I got to seeing Mike Myers horror was renting So I Married an Ax Murderer.
My lack of quantitative viewing has, however, made the horror films that I have watched stand out quite clearly in my mind. I avoided mirrors for months after seeing Candy Man (much to the detriment of my personal grooming) and I still have problems with long hallways after watching Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining on television. So when asked which horror film I enjoyed watching the most, the answer springs very easily to mind: House II: The Second Story.
The film starts with a murder of a couple in the titular house, then flash forwards to present day (1987) where the now adult child of the slain couple, Jesse (Arye Gross), returns to the house where his parents were slain. With the help of his sex-craised, party-animal, best friend Charlie (Jonathan Stark), they dig up the body of Jessie’s great, great grandfather in order to find an ancient Aztec crystal skull with magic powers. Once freed from the grave Gramps (Hollywood veteran Royal Dano) reanimates but instead of killing the would-be grave robbers in some horrible way, he ends up bonding with his descendant and moving in with him.
From there it just gets weirder.
There are other dimensional escapades, an ancient princess to rescue, a spontaneous Halloween party, a musical dance number and- last but certainly not least- John Ratzenberger in an amazing role as an electrician/adventurer.
In purest circles this film barely qualifies as horror and would fit in just as good if filed on the same shelf with screwball comedies like Cannonball Run. House II: The Second Story is an early example of the horror/comedy genre hybrid that really came into it’s own by the mid Ninety’s. It’s fairly campy, loaded with sophomoric humor and ultimately not very frightening but overall the movie is just plain fun. A great view this Halloween if you are looking for more laughs than screams.
Brian is a writer and Executive Director of KRFC radio in Colorado. He is also one half of the creative duo behind the hilarious Life Under Construction web comic.