House II: The Second Story

Before Indiana Jones ever messed around with a crystal skull, two hapless buddies did in House 2: The Second Story, an absolutely bizarre and totally awesome sequel that at times is so off the wall and strange I thought I had fallen asleep on the couch and drifted off into a particularly vivid R.E.M. sleep cycle. It’s funny they call these films “House”, because it is as baseline and normal a name for any horror film as you could get, a name that doesn’t barely suggest the kind of surreal, oddball, dreamy shenanigans that await in each entry in the trilogy, this one especially. It’s the best, and weirdest, of the three films and the story exists only loosely for a bunch of super random characters, special effects and cryptozoological beings to run around and have fun in. Best I could surmise it is two friends (Arye Gross & Jonathan Stark) are fixing up a creepy old house one of them has bough when a shiny, cursed Aztec skull they find tucked away unleashes all kinds of creatures and ghosts, starting with the resurrected spirit of one of their great grandpas, who just happens to be a crusty Old West gunslinger. He’s played by Royal Dano, an actor most probably couldn’t picture but he was an eccentric travelling judge in Twin Peaks so I immediately recognized his voice under all the decrepit makeup. His arrival is just the start of the party though, they spend some time chilling with him and soon they are battling pterodactyls, fighting tribal warriors who want their Crystal skull back I guess and running all about the house. The best, and strangest thing about the film is a small, lovable creature that shows up and can only be described as a dog crossed with a caterpillar, a practical effects creation whose friendly disposition and striking appearance I immediately fell in love with. He’s one of the coolest, most memorable FX creations I’ve seen in 80’s horror and really makes the story something special. The film really exists as playtime rather than a coherent story, and when you have production values, creativity and imagination that is this inspired, I have no problem with that. Wonderful stuff.

-Nate Hill

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