Of these two movies, I found House to be the more entertaining but House II does have its moments but it veers far more into the slapstick comedic territory than its predecessor. As far as this release goes, it is unfortunate that the third and fourth movies weren’t included (they are in the Arrow UK release).
— Two Stories —
Genre(s): Horror, Comedy, Fantasy
Arrow Video | R/PG13 – 92 min. / 88 min. – $59.95 | April 11, 2017
Date Published: 04/09/2017 | Author: The Movieman
THE MOVIE — 3.25/5
House (1985) — 3.5/5
Plot Synopsis: Horror novelist Roger Cobb (WILLIAM KATT) is a man on the edge, reeling from his recent divorce, haunted by the mysterious disappearance of his young son, and struggling with his new book about his traumatic experiences in Vietnam. But when he moves into the strange house left to him by his late aunt, Roger’s precarious sanity comes under siege by nightmares of his dead war friend (RICHARD MOLL), visits from a nosey neighbor (GEORGE WENDT) and an onslaught of hideous creatures from another dimension.
Quick Hit Review: The first of the four movies, although this set only includes two (presumably Arrow US couldn’t get the rights this side of the pond), has a fun mixture of horror, fantasy and comedy (not unlike Ghostbusters which came out only a few years earlier). No, it’s not as sharply written and its special effects budget was probably limited, and indeed looks cheesy even by 1980s standards, but I did find very entertaining and William Katt is a blast in the lead role.
House II: The Second Story (1987) — 3.0/5
Plot Synopsis: Jesse McLaughlin (ARYE GROSS), and his girlfriend Kate (LAR PARK LINCOLN), arrive at the house he’s recently inherited from his long-lost family. As he begins exploring his family’s roots, Jesse discovers that his great-great-grandfather, a notorious outlaw in the Old West, stole an extremely valuable crystal skull that supposedly possessed magical powers. The skull was buried with him.
Charlie (JONATHAN STARK), Jesse’s best friend, persuades Jesse to dig up the coffin and its treasure. To their surprise, they find both the skull and Jesse’s great-great-great grandfather! ‘Gramps’ (ROYAL DANO) is 170 years old, alive and kicking, thanks to the magic of the skull. They all return home and let the hilarity ensue as ‘Gramps’ discovers “modern” devices, oh and people from different eras are also after the skull, including his old partner whom he killed (in self defense).
Quick Hit Review: The writer of the first House movie, Ethan Wiley, gets a promotion to the director’s chair, this sequel which is pure comedy with ever so little horror. It’s a goofy film that did manage to illicit a chuckle out of me but isn’t quite as strong in the story department, plus Katt was sorely missing though Arye Gross and Jonathan Stark definitely had shades of Richard and Larry from Weekend at Bernie’s. On the plus side, this one features another Cheers cast member: John Ratzenberger in a cameo as an electrician and adventurer…
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.25/5
|Each movie comes their own HD Keep Case which gets tucked inside a hard outer box. Also included is a 148-page book ‘The House Companion’.
House (1985) — 4.5/5
Audio Commentary – This is an older track that features director Steve Miner, producer Sean S. Cunningham, actor William Katt and screenwriter Ethan Wiley.
Ding Dong, You’re Dead! (1:06:39; HD) – This is a new documentary on the making of House and features interviews with director Steve Miner, producer Sean S. Cunningham, writer Ethan Wiley, story creator Fred Dekker, stars William Katt, George Wendt & Kay Lenz and various crew members (composer, make-up and creature effects artists, etc). It’s a well done making-of as these participants recollect their work on the film interspersed with scenes from the movie.
Vintage Making-Of (24:07; SD) is an old featurette, made for television, which includes archive interview footage and some behind-the-scenes footage.
Also included is a Still Gallery (6:54; HD), 2 Theatrical Trailers (0:59/1:28; HD), a Teaser (1:27; HD) and 3 TV Spots (1:31; HD).
House II: The Second Story (1987) — 4.0/5
Audio Commentary – Writer/Director Ethan Wiley and Producer Sean S. Cunningham. It’s a basic track, staying on point with how the film was developed. Would’ve been nice for a couple of the actors or tech crew to be included, but as older commentaries go, it’s not bad.
It’s Getting Weirder! (57:38; HD) – Is another new documentary, this time focusing on the sequel and includes new interviews with writer/director Ethan Wiley, producer Sean S. Cunningham, stars Arye Gross, Jonathan Stark, Lar Park Lincoln & Devin DeVasquez and others as they discuss their approach to the film from the standalone story and characters.
Vintage EPK (14:38; HD) is much like other one, something made for television audiences as a way to advertise the film.
A Still Gallery (6:14; HD), Trailer (1:24; HD) and TV Spot (0:33; HD).
VIDEO – 4.0/5
|Both House and House II were presented in their original 1.85 widescreen aspect ratios and 1080p high-definition transfers. The first movie was culled from the original 35mm interpositive and scanned in 2K resolution with restoration work done removing instances of dust marks and scratches. The original 35mm interpositive was also used for the sequel and scanned in 2K resolution and used the same restoration software (PFClean).
Each movie looks pretty good in high-def showcasing sharp looking detail though I found the first appearing slightly better as I did notice, in House II, a strange light bar on the right hand of the screen for a fair portion of the film (if you look right, it is slightly noticeable in the screen shots). Still, for both being low budget films, made in the 1980s, Arrow once again does a more than commendable job. House – 4.25/5; House II – 3.75/5.
AUDIO – 4.0/5
|House and House II come with 2.0 PCM and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks, as well as a 1.0 PCM option for the first movie. I actually found the 2.0 option to be the better one with the 5.1 distributed the audio out through each speaker, still the dialogue levels on both movies were rather strong and when the action picked up steam, there was a fine robustness. Like the video, I didn’t expect much but another admirable work by the studio.|
OVERALL – 4.5/5
Overall, of these two movies, I found House to be the more entertaining but House II does have its moments but it veers far more into the slapstick comedic territory than its predecessor. As far as this release goes, it is unfortunate that the third and fourth movies weren’t included (they are in the Arrow UK release), even so, what is here are good video/audio transfers and a nice selection of bonus material.
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.