BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
I will submit to you that no one my age can EVER forget how The Greatest American Hero actor takes the garbage out in House, the horror comedy directed by Steve Miner. When his hot blonde neighbor stops to chat, the side foot kicks and absent-minded shovel sweeps he gives the body-shaped garbage bag at his feet while flirting with her is both hilarious and disturbing. What's inside it, though, is far worse...
To suggest that House, starring William Katt, is an underappreciated gem of the horror genre is truly an understatement. The film is both spooky and completely hilarious in its unfolding as one Vietnam veteran comes to terms with his past, both domestically and overseas, in a haunted house that could give two shits about whether he lives or dies. It is a horror/comedy about a battle on two fronts and Katt, providing a sharp comedic wit, pulls it off with a little help from his neighbor, Cheers’ George Wendt and Night Court’s Richard Moll.
Thank the Maker for casting director Melissa Skoff. She took some big names from television and, with a story by Fred Dekker (writer/director of Night of the Creeps, Monster Squad, Robocop 3), helped to create the beginning of a horror/comedy series the remains unique among the genre. With both monsters and haunted houses, the genre got served especially well during the late 1980s.
House is playful without being completely silly and, if I am truly being honest, the movie remains one of the absolute BEST places for anyone to begin their own love affair with the horror genre. Which makes its debut on blu-ray so damn important. Directed by Miner (Lake Placid, Friday the 13th Part II, Halloween H20), the film is easily the best level of this two-story collection.
Arrow video, offering both House and House II: The Second Story in one collection, invites you back inside one of the weirdest and wackiest of homes. The films are haunted tales of madness that are full of queasy practical effects and some of the zaniest monster hunting equipment ever featured on film. Complete with a hardback book that discusses all four films, the blu-ray set is marred ONLY because it doesn’t contain all four stories. Sadly House III: The Horror Show and House IV are nowhere to be seen on this release.
Pushing the comedy in the horror genre to its side-splitting ends, House II: The Second Story appeared almost one year later. With no one from the original back, Dekker and series scribe Ethan Wiley (who directed the movie) took their chances on a completely new house at the center of the horror fable. It worked. Jesse (Arye Gross) and his girlfriend Kate (Lar Park Lincoln) along with his best friend Charlie (Jonathan Stark) and his girlfriend Lana (Amy Yasbeck) discover a mystery at the center of Jesse’s ancestral home.
But first they must dig up Jesse’s great-great grandfather (Royal Dano). And so begins another haunting tale of surviving in yet another haunted house, with an added Old West twist in it because, well, why not. Just ask the writers, they wanted to do something different. It’s sillier than the original, but there’s an earnest engine that keeps it running smoothly as the search for a legendary crystal skull ends in shotgun blasts to the skull and a time-travelling adventure which includes a pterodactyl, a caterpillar dog, and an Aztec ritual.
These classics from the era that celebrated horror films are now available with brand new 2K restorations from the original 35mm film elements by Arrow Video in a limited edition box set that includes a 60-page House Companion book. Get your grubby hands on a copy now!
Home Video Distributor: Arrow
Available on Blu-ray - April 11, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles: English SDH
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: LPCM 2.0; English: LPCM Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set
Region Encoding: Region A
Arrow Video’s brand new 2K restorations of House and House II: The Second Story in High Definition blu-ray are both solid examples of 1080p heaven. Colors are vivid and appropriately saturated and black levels are even and inky. Both films are framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and feature an expressive DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track to house the effects and the score by the great Harry Manfredini. Throughout both films, details are finely tuned. Black levels are deep and respected for their differing shades. The color, while not bright (by design), is naturally saturated and expressive. A new layer of clarity equally illustrates the creepiness of both locations, too.
There are two commentaries included with the release. The first is found on the House disc and includes audio commentary with director Steve Miner, producer Sean S. Cunningham, actor William Katt and screenwriter Ethan Wiley. The second is found on the House II: The Second Story disc and includes audio commentary with writer-director Ethan Wiley and producer Sean S. Cunningham.
There are a bunch of NEW supplemental items, making this set a difficult one to pass on. What makes it limited, though, is the inclusion of the hardback companion book. Written by researcher Simon Barber, the 60-page book features new writing on the entire franchise and a treasure trove of archive material. The breakdown on the WONDERFUL supplemental items is included below:
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
HOUSE II: THE SECOND STORY
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
House II Trailer: