PopHorror Celebrates ‘House II: The Second Story’s’ 30th Anniversary

Everyone loves a good haunted house story, filled with ghosts, ghouls, and other assorted grim fiends assaulting the senses of the poor living bastards forced to contend with them. Sometimes, in the weirdest part of the supernatural, other demented beings spring forth! Today’s retro review is a special one, focusing on one of my favorite ’80s movies, House II: The Second Story, pun intended!

“It looks like you’ve got some sort of alternate universe in there or something!”

Released on August 28, 1987, House II: The Second Story opens with a couple sending their infant son, Jesse, off with two unknown individuals, right before they are inevitably gunned down by a third guy clad in black, all taking place within the titular House. Fast forward to 1986 as we meet a now full grown Jesse (Ayre Gross) and his girlfriend, Kate (Lar Park Lincoln), as they arrive at Jesse’s ancestral home. Soon after, they are joined by Jesse’s goofy friend, Charlie, and his wanna-be pop star girlfriend, Lana. It’s then that Jesse discovers that his Great-Great Grandfather Jesse (Royal Dano: Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Ghoulies II) was in possession of some kind of mysterious crystal skull with jewels in its eyes. Figuring that it must have been buried with him, Jesse and Charlie unearth the old man, only to find that he’s been reanimated as a cowboy zombie!

It’s like the Crypt Keeper got his face pimped by Xzibit!

From there we’re taken on a bit of an adventure as the elder Jesse, who prefers to be called Gramps, explains that it is the family’s mission to protect the skull from evil all across time! While the skull has the ability to keep Gramps living, it also serves as a beacon, changing various rooms in the house itself into portals to other time periods with various baddies looking to claim the skull for themselves.

Admit it, you’ve had nights like this!

This film, like the rest in the series, has nothing to do with its predecessor plot wise, besides the fact that it takes place in a large house. Also like the original House (1986), this film is more of a light-hearted affair and tends to lean more towards silly rather than straight up horror. The cast seemed to take advantage of this, and generally came off as having fun with this goofy premise, such as the scene where Charlie and Gramps go joy riding and get drunk!

Getting drunk with a mummified cowboy is officially on my bucket list!

Also similar to how George Wendt was cast in the first movie, this one managed to cast John Ratzenberger as the swashbuckling electrician Bill, who manages to save the day for the five minutes he’s in House II: The Second Story.

I had to ask an electrician friend of mine if a Cutlass sword was standard issue and he just looked at me funny!

As much as I enjoy this movie, I will point out several flaws I’ve noticed. Parts of the story are far from fleshed out. In fact, I had to look online to figure out a few things, such as the meaning behind the cryptic message about the house being a temple that Gramps told Jesse as he placed the crystal skull upon its mantle. Apparently this was mentioned in more detail in the Marvel Comic adaptation, the house itself was built from the ruins of the original temple that the skull was originally housed in and brought to California.

I can’t blame them if this is the end result!

Similar to the first movie, the plot dabbles in time travel. During a Halloween party, Jesse and Charlie have to steal the skull back from a caveman and a group of Aztec warriors. This gimmick left me wanting more, thinking that they could’ve had a lot of fun with this – budget permitting, of course!

Shiny!!!

I realize I beat up on this movie a bit, but it did a few things right. For instance, Bill Maher has a bit part as Kate’s slimy boss, plus Kane Hodder was the stunt coordinator for this film! House II: The Second Story also introduced us to the cowboy zombie genre, a sub genre I never knew I wanted until seeing the primary antagonist make his entrance!

He always had to be the center of attention!

Despite its bad rap, House II: The Second Story has a decent cult following and is overall enjoyable, in my opinion. So if you have nothing to do for an hour and a half and feel like checking out something goofy, I recommend House II: The Second Story!

About Zachary Howard

Just a dude stuck in small town in Washington State. Grew up on bad movies, loud music, violent video games, and I thing I turned out normal!

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Through the decades, we have been given all different kinds of ghost stories transformed into …

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