House: Two Stories (Blu-Ray Review)
Rated: R/Region A/1080p/Number of Discs 2
Available from Arrow Video
Directed By: Steve Miner
Starring: William Katt, Kay Lenz, George Wendt
Roger Cobb is a Vietnam vet whose career as a horror novelist has taken a turn for the worse when his son Jimmy mysteriously disappears while visiting his aunt’s house. Roger’s search for Jimmy destroys his marriage and his writing career. The sudden death of his aunt brings Roger back to the house where his nightmares began. The evil zombies in the house force Roger to endure a harrowing journey into his past.
House is a movie I go way back with. I remember this one and the sequel a lot from my childhood and it really is a movie that anyone can enjoy, not just adults. Sure, it has some creepy moments but there isn’t much in the way of vulgar stuff even with the R rating of the film. We watch as author Roger Cobb returns to his aunt’s house after her death to write his new book but he ends up with way more than he planned. He’s always been haunted by what happened in the war and now that stuff is back and haunting him literally. This leaves the door open for some very funny moments both involving what’s haunting the house and with Roger’s neighbor played by George Wendt. We have some really cool and creepy visuals that all seem to look great even in the great HD transfer that this movie comes with. I’m also just very happy to finally have the movie in widescreen as my old DVDs were both 1:33. That is just some of the perks that come with this film and this set as a whole. Sure, maybe we can see Big Ben’s real teeth behind his fake teeth due to the clearness of the HD, but we still have great effects for the time and everything still is as fun as it is spooky.
The character of Big Ben that haunts Roger is played in human form by Bull from Night Court himself, Richard Moll. While I always knew him as the funny Bull characters, House and many other Empire Pictures movies show that he was great at playing the villain as well. House is one of the better haunted house movies to ever come out to me and I’m always a big fan of 80’s horror films, so this is a win/win for me. You also get some cool extras on the disc as well with a Red Shirt Pictures produced making of on the disc as well as some other cool stuff. This movie would be awesome as a solo release from Arrow but adding it into a set only makes it all the better.
– Audio commentary with director Steve Miner, producer Sean S. Cunningham, actor William Katt and screenwriter Ethan Wiley
– Ding Dong, You re Dead! The Making of House brand new documentary featuring 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
– Stills Gallery
– Theatrical Trailers
Quality of Transfer: 95%
House II: The Second Story (1987)
Directed By: Ethan Wiley
Starring: Arye Gross, Jonathan Stark, Royal Dano
House II: The Second Story sees young Jesse (Arye Gross) moving into an old family mansion where his parents were mysteriously murdered years before. Plans for turning the place into a party pad are soon thwarted by the appearance of Jesse s mummified great-great-grandfather, his mystical crystal skull and the zombie cowboy who’ll stop at nothing to lay his hands on it!
The second House film is a whole new tale with whole new characters. I recall watching this one on HBO back in the day when I was just a kid and I loved it. Now as an adult I still dig it. We see the character of Jess move into his old family home where he learns of his family’s horrific history there. Mostly about a ghostly gunslinger who has killed old family members looking for a skull that is buried at the house with his great-great grandfather. After digging up gramps and finding gramps reanimated as well, the fun really starts to get going with this one until that zombie cowboy comes back for the skull. Again, we have more fun than horror here but it really makes for a cool watch. We also have none other than Bill Maher here playing a sleazeball trying to get in between Jesse and his woman. I will admit that I don’t like House II as much as House but it is still a really fun movie for horror fans to enjoy and I never get tired of seeing it regardless of how many times I’ve seen it.
Arrow gives House II just as much care and love as it does the first movie with another Red Shirt making-of feature to go along with the cool transfer. The movie might be a hair below House in the looks because a lot of it does happen in the dark but it still looks better than I’ve ever seen it look and I dig the fact we get a widescreen presentation of it. That alone would be enough for me to buy the movie again but at least we get equally as cool of an overall presentation to go along with this really solid horror comedy. Now if only we could get a release for House 4 over here we’d be all set. Until then, however, we can enjoy the adventures of a zombie grandpa driving a car recklessly and getting drunk a whole lot in House II.
– Audio commentary with writer-director Ethan Wiley and producer Sean S. Cunningham
– It’s Getting Weirder! The Making of House II: The Second Story brand new documentary featuring 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
– Stills Gallery
– Theatrical Trailer
Quality of Transfer: 92%
Other Extras & Info
– Brand new 2K restorations of House and House II: The Second Story
– High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
– Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
– The House Companion limited edition 60-page book featuring new writing on the entire House franchise by researcher Simon Barber, alongside a wealth of archive material