House II begins on a Halloween in 1961. A sweet and concerned couple hands their crying baby over to safer hands. As their baby drives off with other people (family members, strangers, hobos…I have no idea who they are and it’s irrelevant), the couple arm themselves and investigate ominous spur-like sounds coming from upstairs. What… could it be an undead cowboy, lurking in the shadows, seeking a mystical skull that can grant eternal life and youth? Hmm…. Perhaps, but telling would be spoiling.
Twenty-five years later, Jesse (Ayre Gross), a successful architect (I feel as though in the 80s, that was the cool profession to have next to rockstar or hip doctor that wears Chucks with their scrubs) drives up to his newly inherited home with girlfriend in tow. How he inherited it, where it's located or why he's never been there before now are details in which this movie is not interested. It doesn't take long before Jesse to start meddling through his great-great grandfather's mysterious possessions. You see, great-great gramps (Jesse also) was somewhat of a cowboy Indiana Jones. His prized find, a mystical crystal skull (coughcoughGeorgeLucascough). Jesse Prime had a run in with his partner, Slim Razor (I shit you not, that's the baddie's name) over the skull. Jesse killed Slim and hid the skull for safe keeping.
With the arrival of Jesse Jr. Jr.'s best bud, Charley (Jonathan Stark), they decide to dig up Jesse Prime's grave, which is conveniently on the property, in hopes the the skull is with his remains. Lucky for them, Jesse Prime (from now on known as Gramps and played by Royal Dano) isn't dead, but a 170 year old coot who's ready to tell stories and booze it up.
The rest of the movie is a madcap adventure for laughs involving prehistoric bird, caterpillar pug dogs, lots of beer, human sacrifices, pagan tribes, more old west zombies and John Ratzenberger swashbuckling. What's not to cheer about?
Writer and director Ethan Wiley leaves no genre unturned (save for Kung Fu) in his directorial debut. Having written the original House, he must've been in a jovial mood when approaching it's sequel. No slouch when it comes to his pedigree, though, acting as creative and pupeteering on 80s classics like Return of the Jedi and Gremlins. His attention to effects and composition in the more technical aspects of the movie are impressive and hold up for a twenty-five year old flick.
In summation, what's not to love about the kitchen sink mentality behind House II. Everything is in there, including Bill Maher as a sleazy music executive with
feathered hair (I love the 80s). House II is the epitome of movies that used to run at 2:00am on the USA Network in-between sorority girls and Toxic Avengers. A gem of schlock buried deep in a sea of forgotten experiments. Before direct to video was an option for these odd flicks, House II stands as a bug-nuts middle finger to rational thought and predictable plot progression.
I highly recommend this one on a sick day, stuck at home or a night after the bar as you look for something to watch that'll ease your buzz to rest. If you'll excuse me, I think I just might go watch it again.
Sweet dreams, Cheese-faces!
P.S... How's this for a slice of awesome?