HOUSE IIMOVIE REVIEW
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A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
You can make a low budget movie really good if you have a good script, good direction, and enough time. The first HOUSE was made on the cheap but was also supported by a good script. The things that threatened that first film overwhelm and sink HOUSE 2.
HOUSE 2 is a sequel where the house is the star. This second time around we have a different house, different actors, and a different plot. The only thing taken from the first movie is that this house, like the first, is a portal to other places. In this case, other times in earth history, real or imagined; not necessarily, you see, actual times or events.
This could have been a good fun story and has loads of possibilities, but the movie was not only expected to be made on the cheap, but as a rush job to ride on the skirts of its predecessor, which was an unexpected hit. Always beware of sequels which are released the same year or the very next one. HOUSE 2, unlike THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, was not made all at once.
The movie starts with a prelude whereby a baby is tearfully given away to other folks. 25 years later, the grown-up baby, named Jesse (Arye Gross: MINORITY REPORT), returns to the house where his biological parents died. Jesse was raised by someone else but throughout the movie only waxes on about his biological dead Mom and Dad - as if he ever knew them - which he never did.
When Jesse returns he brings along his girlfriend Kate (wearing depressingly 80s, painfully dated oversized shoulder pads. In the 1980s, designers had women dressing like football players for some ungodly reason). Jesse and Kate see that the inherited house is nothing short of a mansion and gorgeous. Yet Kate (Lar Park-Lincoln: FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII: The New Blood) can only bitch and gripe over everything and everyone who enters her life. That is, until she hears some hackneyed awful music and wants to represent the singer (Amy Yasbeck).
Enter a talking walk-on by Bill Maher as Kate's sleazy boss and exit her, the boss, and the singer. The guy who tried and failed to represent the singer is also Jesse's best friend, Charlie (Jonathon Stark: FRIGHT NIGHT, THE BONE COLLECTOR, XCHANGE). When Bill leaves with both women, Jesse and his bud are on their own. When this happens, the movie unravels.
HOUSE 2 is uneven with more jokes falling flat that knocking us out or even so much as lifting us up.
As in the original HOUSE, a Cheers television show alumni is brought in to elevate the humor, this time in the form of John Ratzenberger (MOTEL HELL, MONSTERS, INC.): the most knowledgable electrician you could ever meet.
The best part of the movie falls into two categories, Gramps, played by the late Royal Dano (KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE) and the interior set design by Greg Fonseco. The interior of the house is as good as any you'll see in the finest period piece.
Unfortunately, the otherworldly exterior scenes look like slap dash interior stage designs and that destroys the credibility and suspension of belief. Overly cute puppets are also introduced which further denigrate this effort.
The best that can be said about HOUSE 2 is that it is the best sequel in the series, which isn't saying much. The rush job and the low budget destroyed it. New World Pictures couldn't seems to help it. Despite their profitable hit movies at that time, they were losing money somehow. Both movie and the DVD extras only earn 2 Shriek Girls.