Review Date: June 12, 2001
Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release date: 6/9/2001
MSRP: FREE (in the first 20,000 copies of House DVD)
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
Anchor Bay has included House 2 as an extra bonus in the first 20,000 copies of their House DVD release. Even though House 2 comes with House, we've decided to review it separately so that you can enjoy the same in-depth reviewing and high quality screen shots you've become so accustomed to here at Horrordvds.com. Lets take a closer look at House 2: The Second Story.
Clarence (Dwier Brown) and Judith (Lenora May) McLaughlin, a seemingly happy and, by the look of their home, wealthy couple, nervously send their newborn baby off into the night with friends. They return to the house and hear a noise coming from the upstairs. Together, armed with a shotgun, they head upstairs to investigate. In what was once their baby's room they find a stranger who tells them in a deep, scratchy voice that he "wants the skull". They claim to not know where it is, and soon find themselves victim to the stranger's own firearm.
Twenty five years later - Jesse (Arye Gross), the young newborn who lost is parents that night, is now an adult. Jesse and his girlfriend Kate (Lar Park-Lincoln) move into the home that once belonged to his parents. When they arrive at the house, Jesse beings looking around, eventually finding a photo album that contains picture of him and his parents, his grandfather, and his great grandfather. Kate, who works for a big record company, immediately finds the phone and starts working from home. That night while Jesse and Kate are sleeping, Charlie (Jonathan Stark) - Jesse's wild, comedian friend - arrives at the house with his girlfriend Jana (Amy Yasbeck) for an unexpected visit. They're there to celebrate Jesse's birthday, and to try and get Jana a record deal through Kate's company.
Charlie finds Jesse down in the basement researching an old book of mysteries. Jesse tells Charlie that his great great grandfather Jesse McLaughlin was an outlaw in the old west. Jesse's great great grandfather, along with his partner in crime, Slim (Dean Cleverdon), came across a crystal skull that has magical powers. Jesse [the grandfather] and Slim had a falling out over the skull, and Slim died without ever getting his hands on the it. Jesse [the grandson] believes that the skull is buried with his great great grandfather at an old cemetery located at a nearby hill. Charlie and Jesse agree to dig up the grave in hopes of locating the skull. They find the skull, as well as Charlie's great great grandfather, who is alive and well. The power of the skull has somehow kept his grandfather alive all these years, while he patiently waited for someone to dig him up.
Charlie and Jesse bring the grandfather, who insists on being called "Gramps" (Royal Dano), back to the house. Gramps places the skull into a shrine above the fireplace; shortly after, things begin to get quickly out of control. Charlie invited a few dozen friends over to Jesse's house for a Halloween party, which he forgot to tell Jesse about. Gramps joins in on the party; since everyone is dressed up in costumes, Gramps blends right in. During the party, a prehistoric jungle sprouts up in one of the upstairs bedrooms. A caveman from the jungle enters the house and steals steals the crystal skull, which, as it just so happens, is the only thing keeping Gramps alive after all these years.
Charlie and Jesse head off into the jungle to face not only the prehistoric man, but a few prehistoric creatures as well. The skull, along with a few prehistoric pets, eventually make it back to the house. This marks only the beginning of Charlie and Jesse's adventures, though. Soon they find themselves, along with Bill the "Adventurer/Electrician" (John Ratzenberger), crawling into the walls of the house to battle ancient Aztecs. The real trouble comes when Gramps' old nemesis, Slim, returns from the grave to claim the skull. Slim will stop at nothing to get it, and kill anyone who gets in his way. Now, Gramps, Charles, and Jesse must go head to head with Slim to not only save the skull, but also their own lives.
I've never seen House 2 prior to this review; I went in thinking it was going to be a lousy movie. My reasoning was that A) it's a sequel and nearly all sequels are horrible when compared to the original, and B) Anchor Bay is including it as a bonus, instead of releasing it on its own, separate from the original House, so it must be pretty bad. It's easy to see my thought process on this - if Anchor Bay can release Mirror Mirror Parts 2 and 3 on their own, and not House 2, it must be pretty bad. But as it turned out, I was wrong, House 2 is an excellent movie.
House 2 is quite different from the original House. I've read user comments over at the Internet Movie Database complaining that it's not really a sequel, it's totally different than the original, and it shouldn't be called House 2. These points are certainly true; the characters are entirely different, the story is different, the genre is different, and even the house itself is different. However, when one is comparing the original and the sequel, it's only fair they consider the complete title of this sequel - House 2: The Second Story. That title certainly gives me the impression that it could very well be entirely different, which is what I was thinking even before watching it. House 2 could definitely work as a standalone movie (i.e. not a sequel), but given the title, I have no qualms with it being called House 2.
The original House can easily be classified as a horror/comedy. House 2, on the other hand, falls into adventure/comedy genre. There's absolutely no horror aspect to it, which may upset some. It's hard to stay upset, though, because the movie works wonderfully as an adventure/comedy. This could have easily been a horrible movie. Thanks to a good story, decent acting, good effects, plus some great humor and adventure, House 2 ends up being quite enjoyable. I also enjoyed the stop-motion effects, present in a handful of scenes. Though they're far from the great, they're decent enough to enjoy. And who can't love the humor of the fact that "Norm!!!" (George Wendt) from the Cheers TV show is in the original House, and "Clffy!!!" (John Ratzenberger) from the Cheers TV show is in the sequel? You gotta love it!
House 2 - see it, love it! If you're expecting horror or a clone of the original, you may be disappointed. Otherwise, I think you'll enjoy House 2 immensely. Now, can someone tell me where to find one of those caterpillar dogs? My son loved that little guy!
House 2 is presented in an anamorphic widescreen transfer in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. As the case with House, the transfer on House 2 is excellent. It's nearly identically in terms of quality - image remains sharp overall and boasts consistent strong, solid colors during playback. I didn't see any blemishes, but there are a handful of scenes that have light grain present. Scoring House 2 with an A- as well.
The sound is in Dolby Digital Mono. No problem found here; sound is distortion free and dialogue is crystal clear. No complaints for a mono track.
Even though the House 2 is a bonus DVD included with House, that didn't stop Anchor Bay from including some supplements on it. This time around is a commentary track with Director/Writer Ethan Wiley and Producer Sean S. Cunningham. I found myself enjoying this commentary more than the original House commentary, which had a different director of course. There's a lot of discussion between Ethan and Sean on the effects, story, cast and crew, and their personal experiences both on and off set. They also pointed out various cameos, including one from the future Jason in various Friday the 13th sequels, Kane Hodder. There are still some gaps of silence, but I don't think there were nearly as many compared to House, plus Ethan gave me that vibe of being generally proud of his work on House 2.
The only other supplement is the theatrical trailer to House 2. Still, the commentary track is definitely enjoyable and is an excellent bonus on this bonus DVD.
I expected to whip through this review with the standard "this sequel sucks" layout. As it turned out, I enjoyed House 2 just as much as the original House. It's an entirely different movie, but just as enjoyable in many ways. As a result, my review for House 2 is actually longer than my review of the original. Quite amazing...
I highly recommend this one. Anchor Bay has once again amazed me, releasing this great movie as a freebie with the first 20,000 copies of their House DVD. Plus, House 2 has an enjoyable commentary track to boot. Great deal, don't miss it!
Movie - B+
Image Quality - A-
Sound - B+
Supplements - B+
- Running Time - 1 hour 28 minutes
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- Chapter stops
- Dolby Digital Mono
- Commentary with Director/Writer Ethan Wiley and Producer Sean Cunningham