Where the 1986 horror film House went for a more serious tone, the first sequel, subtitled The Second Story, to be released the very next year went straight for the absurd. While it might sound like a recipe for disaster, taking the film in an entirely different direction from the first actually seemed to work and exceptionally well. By doing so, it would set itself apart as a totally different beast with no ties to the first movie and while utterly ridiculous at times; it turned out to be a lot of fun.
One would expect the house of the picture to be the star of the show and in this film it does end up playing a more integral role than that of the first movie. Here it is not only the setting, but it sets the stage for the discovery of a crystal skull and everything that takes place afterwards. Ethan Wiley, who wrote and directed the film from a story by Fred Dekker, would throw in everything including the kitchen sink to create one incredibly twisted masterpiece. With everything from zombie cowboys to sleazy businessmen, dinosaurs, cavemen, virginal sacrifice, Mayans and Cliff from Cheers, Wiley blends everything together in seemingly seamless fashion. The constant changing of the scenery as different rooms lead to different time periods keeps things quite fresh, though one has to wonder just where it will all end. In that respect, it does tend to get just a little bit repetitive as the story tends to stall out in the middle with no headway being made. Things do eventually get back on track and though it was entertaining as a whole, seeing more of the big bad would have made for a more interesting time.
While classified as a horror-comedy hybrid, there is little in the way of scares and whether it is Gramps, the loveable zombie cowboy, or his former partner Slim who betrayed him, they are about as frightening as it comes. The first House was more horror-centric and geared towards adults while this film seemed focused on pulling in a younger audience. That decision by the filmmakers was not a bad thing, it simply meant that if one were looking for a movie featuring blood and guts and other horror tropes, this is definitely not that film. Nice to see is that most of the comedy holds up nearly thirty years later, providing more than a few chuckles, though John Ratzenberger falls a little flat. The special effects are quite good with the dinosaurs looking sharp and the little baby monsters being quite cuddly and humourous whenever onscreen. There were a few moments when the acting was not up to par or when the script was a little silly, but for the most part, everything was top-notch.
Jonathan Stark, Amy Yasbeck and Royal Dan would star and so would a young Bill Maher, perfectly cast as the slime-ball executive. Stark and the movie’s lead as played by Arye Gross had a good chemistry and though they were not exactly Abbot and Costello, they managed to carry the film quite successfully. At the end of the day, this menagerie of a picture is far more pleasurable than not, more comedy than horror but still worth the time.
3.5 out of 5