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House 2

franchisebannerindex.jpgI think that Indiana Jones ruined crystal skulls for everybody. The film opens on a crystal skull, and then dissolves into this gorgeous house. If the outsides art deco wasn’t impressive enough, the cavernous interior with stone balconies and Mayan glyphs lining the walls will definitely catch you.

House two was heavily advertised, way more than the original and I remember seeing it on the back of every comic book, on the wall of every theater, and in every other commercial on television. It’s one  of those films I was very aware of but I always assumed that it was a sequel to the original. I even wondered if perhaps the Second Story referred to most of the action taking place upstairs. Of course I was wrong. You have to understand this is an anthology series and this story stands alone, completely unrelated to the rest of the films.

After spiriting away their baby, a couple hears a strange noise from upstairs. They’ve obviously been living with this horror for a while, and they head up to investigate. All we see is a shadowy figure that demands “I want the skull!” before gunning them down.

25 years later

A car pulls up and Jessie, the baby that was sent away, has arrived to take ownership of the house with his girlfriend Kate. He certainly joined by his best friend Charlie and girlfriend Lana in toe. You may recognize Lana as Amy Yasbeck from the Problem Child series.

Downstairs, Jesse finds an article about his great great grandfather discovering a crystal index3skull, then having a falling out with his archaeological partner Slim. The Crystal Skull however, is nowhere to be found and Jessie comes up with the idea I’m digging up his great great grandfather and checking the coffin. The skull indeed has been hidden there, but what he discovers is that his grandfather is also there, and alive. A zombified corpse reaches out and grabs Jessie, defending the skull.  Jesse pleads with him and wins his trust. It turns out, Gramps has been waiting for 170 years for somebody to come and dig him up. He accompanies Jesse and Charlie back to the house, and places the skull back in it’s cradle over the mantle. It starts to glow and Gramps warns them that this house actually a temple, and forces will steal through to try and acquired the skull.

Chris takes Gramps out on the town for some fish out of water comedy and they end up on the side of the road getting drunk and staring at the stars. They set him up in the basement with the TV and they listen to his story of life in the old west. But soon, doors start to open between this world and others and a variety of bizarre forces start to come through to claim the Crystal Skull. A barbarian from the Stone Age storms in and swipes it during a Halloween party, but when he leaves, the portal used remains open. Upstairs in one of the bedrooms they discover a jungle. It’s actually very reminiscent of the devices used in the first House movie. The idea of walking through a familiar door, but instead of finding yourself in the expected room, you find yourself in a very different place. it’s one of those things that makes this feel like a sequel to the original, even while it’s completely disconnected.

They plunged into prehistoric times with an Uzi got that makes the prehistoric man a pushover. The stop-motion dinosaurs are a bit more of a threat. Nevertheless they escape the matte painting prehistoric world, along with a weird dog caterpillar and a baby index2.jpgpterodactyl, all while managing to retrieve the skull and return it to it’s cradle.

In the meantime, Bill Maher is trying to make time with Jesse’s girlfriend.
It’s weird to see him act, over the years we’ve gotten very used to him more as a panel moderator and commentator than a performer. He plays a completely superfluous and ridiculously slimy character in this film, all of which is pretty much the perfect metaphor for Bill Maher’s existence in the first place.

No sooner is the Crystal Skull back in it’s cradle Then the Aztecs come to take it. It’s around this time that John Ratzenberger shows up as Bill. He’s there to fix the wiring but he also has a sideline as an adventurer and finds an alternate universe inside one of the walls of the house. Bill, Jesse, and Charlie head through the portal to the alternate universe to retrieve the skull. A virgin sacrifice tags along with t hem on thier way home – she’s got a thing for Jessie.

index4.jpgIt’s time for Gramp’s old partner Slim to arrive, emerging out of the evening’s dinner as a terrifying visage. Frank Welker provides his best Doctor Claw voice for the dead cowboy and gramps arms Jesse with his six-shooter for the next encounter. Outside, the windows show a Wild West Town and Jessie crashes through to save his friends In a climactic showdown.

House 2 is not so much a horror film as it is a bit of a Dark Fantasy Adventure. There’s a lot of elements here that feel like The Goonies, which make sense. We’ve got a slightly watered down PG-13 rating on this film as opposed to the R rating of it’s predecessor. House two may be a lot of things, it’s spooky and dangerous, But it isn’t scary. Still, you can’t deny the tenor and general feel of the film that links it to the first House film. The addition of John Ratzenberger to the cast is a brilliant bit of backhanded connection as well. It feel like it’s part of something bigger, though it still could probably stand on it’s ow, and even with the very strange (and slightly unsatisfying) ending, it’s still worth the watch, especially in the context of the franchise.

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