Sean S. Cunningham and Steve Miner’s House was a pretty big hit for New World Pictures back in the eighties so that meant one thing, sequels. Arrow Video have collected all four of the House films in one big attractive package along with stacks of extras and a book featuring writing on the franchise. So lets begin…
Roger Cobb (William Katt) has been left his Aunt’s house in her will and he is having a tough time lately as he’s recently divorced and his kid has vanished. With the house possessed Roger gets troubling flashbacks from Vietnam, weird creatures appear and an annoying neighbour (Cheers’ George Wendt) poking his oar in.
House II: The Second Story
The co-writer of the first movie gets a chance to direct this time around and more comedy was injected into the script. Another poor soul inherits a house with a big secret, a crystal skull buried in the grounds with the new owner’s Great Grandfather. ‘Gramps’ wakes up and along with his Great-Grandson has to deal with the evil intentions of Slim, an enemy from the old west. Pixar (and Cheers) legend John Ratzenberger also pops up in a small role.
The Horror Show aka House III
Max Jenke, a prolific serial killer has been put to death but he’s still angry and determined to get revenge on the original officer who arrested him. Lance Henriksen plays the cop and the late great Brion James is Max with the best ‘comedy horror’ laugh ever. The Horror Show isn’t technically a ‘House’ film, as it was retitled (apart from America) to tie in with the series but it does have a sort-of haunted house vibe but it sits squarely in Freddy Krueger/Horace Pinker territory.
William Katt is back as Roger Cobb with a entirely different family and is immediately killed off. His wife and disabled daughter move in to another old family home but Roger’s slimy step-brother wants to demolish it for redevelopment. Suffice to say, weird shit soon happens including a singing pizza played by Jason Voorhees himself, Kane Hodder.
All the films have their own individual merits, the first one being a pretty good atmospheric haunted house story. Ethan Wiley’s sequel is more of a comedy and features some awesome creature designs from Chris Walas. Veteran character actor Royal Dano steals the show as ‘Gramps’ however lead actor Arye Gross is just bland.
Now on to the third movie, it’s a ‘balls-to-the-wall’ slasher film with supernatural elements and loads of violence. It’s my favourite of the bunch and the two lead actors (Henriksen and James) are excellent. Max Jenke was a terrific creation and his first death in the electric chair is really quite something. Part Four is totally bonkers and to be fair the worst of all of them. It does have some redeeming features, lead actress Terri (Alien Nation) Treas is good and the sheers oddness of the film sort of pulls you in especially that pizza.
The special features are simply very special with commentaries, behind the scenes footage, documentaries, stills galleries and trailers. The Horror Show is also UNCUT for the first time on Blu-ray as well.
I’ve always had a soft spot for the films (I watched the first two from EiV on Betamax from Ritz Video) so I’m a little biased. Yes, they’re not bona-fide classics but they are a lot of fun with great scores from Harry Manfredini and a singing pizza, did I mention that?
- Starring William Katt Richard Moll Arye Gross Brion James Lance Henriksen Terri Treas
- Directors Steve Miner Ethan Wiley James Isaac Lewis Abernathy
- Distributor Arrow Video