Old houses come with a lot of strange idiosyncrasies. The doors stick on Wednesdays. The windows are single pane and let the breeze go through. The basement pipes creak all night. And there’s a chance of blooding pouring out of the half bath and demons in the subflooring. House and House: The Second Story are tales of people who move into old houses only to quickly learn those strange things. House was a surprise hit back in 1986 when it challenged Pretty in Pink for the top of the box office. Now both fright fests with comedic twists are brought together in the House: Two Stories boxset.
House (1986 – 93 minutes) gives us a low point for a successful horror author Roger Cobb (The Greatest American Hero‘s William Katt). His wife has left him. His son has disappeared. He publisher is demanding another best seller. And his aunt hangs herself under mysterious circumstances. The only positive thing to come out of the bad times is the aunt left him the house. He decides to move into the place in order to work on his book about the Vietnam War. His publisher isn’t too happy that this is his next topic instead of a good old fashioned scare. Roger’s Vietnam experience was a bit of a horror story when his unit was overtaken and his best pal Big Ben (Night Court‘s Richard Moll) was captured. But his nightmares grow as monsters lurk inside his aunt’s old joint. He does his best to seem normal when neighbor (Cheers‘ George Wendt) is around. But slowly Roger needs his neighbor to prove his isn’t completely going nuts. There are strange monsters in the house that are attacking people and wanting a piece of the new homeowner. Unlike a normal haunted house movie, there’s a sense of humor to much of the action. George Wendt isn’t there for to scare audiences with a non-Norm role. There’s an odd effect of a talking mounted fish that would someday be turned in the singing trout novelty item. William Katt is able to maintain his composure while playing a role that has him switching from trouble Vietnam vet to man battling a demon posing as a lady. Remarkably the film was a hit during its theatrical release and not merely from its home video release.
House: The Second Story could have easily repeated the formula except the original was just so weird compared to the normal haunted house flick. Instead of giving us a new tenant to the house, the sequel just makes things even weirder at a new address. Jesse (Arye Gross) and his lover Kate (Lar Park Lincoln) move into an old family home. His party pal Charlie (Jonathan Stark) brings along his girlfriend Lana (Amy Yasbeck) to help give a housewarming. Although it is a strange house since Jesse’s parents were killed on the grounds when he was a baby. The guys discover a family curse linked to a special skull. The two dig up a great-great grandfather to recover the artifact. They get their skull and the undead body of the great-great grandfather (Royal Dano). He joins them as they deal with weird time travel that has them encountering dinosaurs, Mayans and more cowboys. The biggest thing to tie the House films together is the arrival of John Ratzenberger (Cliff on Cheers) as an electrician with an understanding of time-space jumps in older houses. The movie remains comedic in nature especially with the arrival with Ratzenberger who seems to understand the strange situation in the architecture.
Watching House and House: The Second Story as a double feature is perfect for a night of WTF moments that don’t follow the paint by numbers scare action that dominates the genre. The Cheers gang ups the fun and makes so much on the screen seem explainable. Both films remind viewers that there’s a serious price to be paid for a free inherited house. Nothing comes cheap in real estate. Either you have termites or just an evil spirit that wants to send you sweet smile to Hell. House: Two Stories places the films in a luxury community. This is a limited edition boxset so don’t think too hard before moving into the neighborhood.
The videos is 1.85 anamorphic for both films. The transfers really bring out the details in both houses. The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, LPCM 2.0 and LPCM Mono on both movies. You’ll be able to hear Katt’s flashback to Vietnam with explosions around the room. The movies are subtitled.
The House Companion is 60-page book about the movies with an article by Simon Barber
Audio commentary with director Steve Miner, producer Sean S. Cunningham, actor William Katt and screenwriter Ethan Wiley has them break down how they mixed so much in one film and came out with a hit.
Ding Dong, You re Dead! The Making of House (66:39) features interviews with Steve Miner, Sean S. Cunningham, Ethan Wiley, story creator Fred Dekker, stars William Katt, Kay Lenz, and George Wendt, composer Harry Manfredini, special make-up and creature effects artists Barney Burman, Brian Wade, James Belohovek, Shannon Shea, Kirk Thatcher, and Bill Sturgeon, special paintings artists Richard Hescox and William Stout, and stunt coordinator Kane Hodder. They talk about how their wasn’t much studio interference. William Katt swears this is the horror film to first show your kids. And he’s got a point. Fred Dekker explains how he gave the script to his pal Ethan Wiley.
Vintage Making Of (24:07) appears to be a TV series about upcoming movies. Marvel to the youthful William Katt.
Stills Gallery (6:54) has the screaming and the steaming photos from the set.
Theatrical Trailers and the Teaser give a sense that the House should remain unoccupied.
TV Spots (1:31) relies on Cunningham and Miner’s Friday 13th Connection.
Audio commentary with writer-director Ethan Wiley and producer Sean S. Cunningham lets them talk about trusting the screenwriter of the original to direct the sequel.
It s Getting Weirder! The Making of House II: The Second Story (57:38) features interviews with Ethan Wiley, Sean S. Cunningham, stars Arye Gross, Jonathan Stark, Lar Park Lincoln, and Devin DeVasquez, composer Harry Manfredini, special make-up and creature effects artists Chris Walas, Mike Smithson, visual effects supervisor Hoyt Yeatman, and stunt coordinator Kane Hodder. They pretty much all point out how strange the film was. There was a lot of special effects and props that had to be built for the shoot. Ethan was able to get major talent for his low budget project.
Vintage EPK (14:38) promotes the new film based on the success of the original. Producer Sean Cunningham promises all of the rules are off.
Stills Gallery (6:14) are promo photos and publicity material.
Theatrical Trailer (1:24) promises another evil film about the fears of home ownership. The weirdness is highlighted.
TV Spot (0:33) lets you meet the new owners of the house.
Arrow Video presents House: Two Stories. Directed by: Steve Miner & Ethan Wiley. Screenplay by: Ethan Wiley. Starring: William Katt, George Wendt, Kay Lenz & John Ratzenberger. Boxset contents: Two movies on 2 Blu-ray discs. Rated: R. Released: April 11, 2017.
Tags: Arrow Video, House