Plot: Jesse (Arye Gross) has just moved into his family’s old estate, along with his girlfriend Kate (Lar Park Lincoln). The house is huge and ornate, not to mention filled with relics from Jesse’s family history. Jesse’s friend Charlie (Jonathan Stark) and Kate’s friend Lana (Amy Yasbeck) drop in for a short while, to help them get settled in and so Lana can meet one of Kate’s friends in the music business. Jesse and Charlie start looking through the house’s curios and find books that talk about a magical skull, which seems to be buried with his great-great grandfather. But the effort to dig up the skull results in a family reunion, as the 170 year olds Gramps (Royal Dano) is still alive…kind of. Now Gramps is back and he tells Jesse how important the skull is, as is does indeed have magical powers and is coveted by the powers of evil. Can Jesse help protect the skull or will this family bonding be cut short?
Entertainment Value: House II continues the theme of haunted houses, but doesn’t carry on the same story from the original. New house, new tenant, but similar theme and approach. While House was a blend of horror & humor, House II skews much more toward the humor side of that mixture. There are still some horror elements, but the focus is slanted heavily toward the humor. In truth House II seems like an almost ideal introduction to horror for younger viewers, which seems to be a consensus among fans and those involved in the production. But don’t let that sway you if you’re more into the horror side, as House II is still quite fun. More of a fantasy feel than horror most of the time, but if you enjoyed the first House, there’s a lot to like here. Not on that same level as the original, but it still offers passable entertainment. The creature effects are quite cool, the cast is interesting, and who doesn’t love old Gramps? The pace is also brisk, so we move from one wild scenario to the next, from a caveman to Aztecs and yes, there’s a caterpillar dog. So in the end, we have a movie that stays true to the original but also moves toward humor over horror. If you like the original House or like your horror a little silly, check this one out.
No nakedness. Very little blood, but we do have some cool creature effects on display, including some stop motion sequences. In addition to Gramps and the caterpillar dog we have a baby pterodactyl, an evil gunslinger zombie, and an undead horse. I love the undead horse, even though it has very limited screen time. Just a gross, but cool visual creation. I also love how we get a jungle, Aztec ruin, and Old West town all within the confines of the house, pretty cool stuff. I’m scoring one point for the effects work, but again, minimal blood here. Gramps and Charlie have most of the best lines, while Bill Maher is almost painfully unfunny in his role as a douchebag music executive. Gramps tends to the show, but I do wish Karen would have ramped up in her level of bitchiness, as there was untapped gold there. House II has a wild story, but never feels out of control or off the rails. Just a solid mix of horror, fantasy, and humor, presented in a mostly family friendly configuration. Even so, undead cowboys and a troupe of wacky creatures deserves at least a couple of crazy points.
Overall Insanity: 2/10