Sunday, January 9, 2022

HOUSE II: THE SECOND STORY (1987) Blu-ray Review

House II: The Second Story (1987) d. Ethan Wiley (USA) (88 min)

Barely a horror film at all, this wannabe comedy revolves around a crystal skull possessing magical powers which has been squirreled away for safekeeping in the coffin of our nominal hero Jesse’s (Arye Gross) great-great-great grandfather who is dubbed… Gramps (Royal Dano). As they say, you can’t keep a good man down, and soon our mummified cowpoke is holed up in the basement and causing a ruckus from time to time while certain rooms in the house serve as portals to other dimensions populated by animatronic creatures with a terminal case of the cutes.

I know there are a lot of people out there with a lot of affection for the original House (1985), and while I enjoy it for what it is, it was never one that I was too keen to watch on heavy rotation. As a result, I had no problem letting writer/director Wiley’s (who wrote the screenplay for the original) sequel pass me by, especially since I had never heard anyone insisting that I needed to catch up with it.

There’s a reason for that.

The wacky supernatural events mentioned above are intended to be amusing, I think, but most of the time they are just annoying. Chris Walas was in charge of the makeup effects, and it’s a little embarrassing to consider that the guy had just won an Oscar the year before for Cronenberg’s The Fly, considering how thick and immobile the latex is on all concerned. Credit Walas’ creature design (with future Jason X director James Isaac coordinating the special effects) deserves mention; it’s just too bad that what Wiley does with these unique characters comes off so forced and unfunny.

Equally frustrating are the overblown human performances, unfortunate considering all concerned have done much better work elsewhere. Busy character man Gross has a rare leading role here, and it becomes abundantly clear why he didn’t have too many others. The guy is trying so hard to carry a film that is way out of his control. Similarly, his obnoxious buddy Charlie is way overplayed by Jonathan Stark, better known as Jerry Dandridge’s human-ish familiar in Fright Night.

Bill Maher shows up with his trademark smarm as a music executive, and Lar Park-Lincoln aka The Carrie Clone Who Drops a House on Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th VII: The New Blood) is Jesse’s easily miffed girlfriend. Even John Ratzenberger can’t save the day (filling the “requisite Cheers cast member” slot established by George Wendt in the first film), putting in a glorified cameo as a rogue electrician.

What made the original House work was its even-handed blend of fun and frights; the emphasis on the yuks here is what left me saying just that. I’d like to say take the elevator past this floor and head straight to The Horror Show aka House III, but that one’s not much better. Ah, well.


Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements

Audio commentary with writer-director Ethan Wiley and producer Sean S. Cunningham

It’s Getting Weirder! The Making of House II: The Second Story – brand new documentary featuring interviews with writer-director Ethan Wiley, producer Sean S. Cunningham, stars Arye Gross, Jonathan Stark, Lar Park Lincoln and Devin DeVasquez, composer Harry Manfredini, special make-up and creature effects artists Chris Walas, Mike Smithson, visual effects supervisor Hoyt Yeatman and stunt coordinator Kane Hodder (58 min)

Vintage EPK (15 min)

Still Gallery

Theatrical Trailer and TV Spot

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Justin Osbourn

House II: The Second Story is available now from Arrow Video and can be ordered HERE:



  1. The House boxset from Arrow is one of my favourites, despite the fact that I now only truly like one of the films enough to covet it. But if you'd asked 12-year-old me what the best horror-comedy-fantasy movie of all time was . . . the answer may well have been House II.
    Always sad I never bought myself a caterpuppy.

  2. Fair enough. I felt the same way watching THE GOONIES for the first time in my late 30s, that I had just come to it a little late in life to catch the right vibe. I can see this being a pretty decent entry film for a younger horror fan. Not too scary, but with plenty of monster action and "comedy."

    I say this also in defense of my younger self being a huge Jerry Lewis fan, whereas my older self is, like, "What were you thinking?"