House (1986)*Spoilers throughout*
What’s It About: Roger Cobb (William Katt) is a famed horror novelist [much along the lines of Stephen King or James Patterson] whose career is on the decline due to his failing marriage and the disappearance of his son. He is also keen on writing an autobiographical account of his tour in Vietnam which bothers his agent because it could further alienate his devoted fan base. When Roger’s eccentric aunt dies in the same house his son disappeared in, Roger ultimately decides he’ll live there to write his war tome. Immediately after moving in strange things happen in the house and Roger is attacked and tormented by paranormal phenomena, sometimes taking the form of his late aunt, his son and his divorced wife. Roger is then committed to capturing the ghosts on film when he buys a dozen BETA-max video cameras and other still cameras. With the (not so much) help of a very noisy neighbor (George Wendt) Roger enters the house’s other-worldly dimension and finds his lost son. But his Vietnam buddy, Ben (Richard Moll) who Roger failed to euthanize during an attack is out for revenge.
Is It Actually Scary?: In a word…No. This picture is essentially an even goofier rip-off of the Evil Dead series of flicks. It’s suppose to be funny but not so much actually. The “ghosts” have a high pitched voice much like Judge Doom had in Roger Rabbit and they even look like cartoons too.
Scariest Moment: William Katt’s career. For me the scariest moment is when the grocery store delivery boy stumbles into the room with the dead aunt hanging from her neck swinging like a pendulum. But I have a thing for hangings. The movie has a bunch of jump scares but nothing that would make you spill your popcorn.
How Much Gore: None. Like I mentioned this is a horror-comedy so no blood. Ben happens to be a walking corpse much like Jason Voorhees but he’s not what I would consider gory.
Dumbest Moment: The movie is littered with dumb moments being a horror-comedy that isn’t funny or horrific but the dumbest scene has to be when Roger’s very attractive neighbor comes by the house to drop off her 3-year-old son for Roger to babysit without any notice. Just, “Here ya go, please watch my precious little boy, guy I just met this afternoon. I’m sure you’re wonderful with children despite losing your son to ghosts that still inhabit your house. Bed time’s at 8:00 and I’ll be back later to pick him up. Here are some He-Man toys to occupy him while you fend off some demons. Bye-Bye!” Of course Roger obliges watching the boy. Probably because of this:
Any Nudity: Nope. Look above for the extent of any T&A.
Overall: I used to love this flick as a kid but sadly the appeal has worn off since it is very much a rip-off of the Evil Dead series but also just not as funny or campy as what I remembered as a youngster. However, if my kids wanted to watch a silly horror movie this would be on top of my list for them. I still had some fun watching it now but all for nostalgic reasons.Score: 4
House II: The Second Story (1987)
What’s It About: Jesse (Ayre Gross) and his girlfriend inherit a large mansion that has been in Jesse’s family for generations. Jesse and his friend decide to dig up Jesse’s great-great grandfather in the hope that the corpse is still in possession of a very rare and powerful crystal skull. The grandfather is resurrected as a kindly jovial cowboy zombie who likes to drink beer. However, Gramps isn’t the only paranormal entity on the loose as the skull’s powers unleash cavemen, Ancient Aztecs and Gramp’s cowboy rival Slim who wants the skull for himself.
Is it Actually Scary: When the zombies are funny, and while retrieving the skull from the stone-age, Jesse brings back a pet pterodactyl and some kind of cute caterpillar with the face of a puppy, it’s evident that this movie is really for kids. So a big NO in the scare department.
Scariest Moment: If you find this picture has ANY scary moments then you may not want to leave your house. I’ve seen scarier things on the 6 O’clock news.
How Much Gore: Gore Vidal has more gore than this flick. Not one drop of blood.
Dumbest Moment: Where to begin? But I will mention briefly the Halloween party that just happened to start in the house without the hosts, Jesse and his friend, complete with music, snacks, drinks and decorations. They literally go down into the basement to talk to Gramps, and when they come back up later there are decorations and people everywhere. Jesse’s friend admits that he forgot that he invited people over, and Jesse didn’t know this was going to happen, so the only conclusion is that all of these people came to the house of a person they didn’t even know (Jesse) and decorated the place top to bottom and put out a feast.
Any Nudity: NO! And why bother casting Devin Devasquez, Playboy‘s Playmate of the Month in June 1985 if the most you see of her is some leg.
Overall: This was way worse than what I faintly remembered as a kid. And I think I liked this as a kid which is even scarier. It was boring, slow, dumb, poorly written, executed, casted (Bill Maher? John Ratzenberger?) and filmed. Which its so baffling to me that there was TWO more sequels after this garbage. Speaking of the casting, it’s funny that Amy Yasbeck and Bill Maher are given billing on the above cover because they’re both in the movie for a total of about 8 minutes.
Brian: This movie can go into the What Were We Thinking? category for me because I recall absolutely loving this as a kid. It’s easy to see why, there’s a pterodactyl, puppy-caterpillar, shootout action, and time travel. The time travel part is handled like “My Science Project” (another movie I remember loving, so look for that review sometime in the future) in that certain rooms in the house open up into the past. But watching this movie now, I was bored out of my crystal skull. I shouldn’t have went back to this House…Score: 3