Arrow brings together all four films in the House series to Blu-ray for the first time.
Produced by Friday the 13th creator Sean S. Cunningham this collection comes a tonne of extras and a fantastic transfer but what about the films?
Written by Fred Dekker who also wrote Night of the Creeps (1986) and The Monster Squad (1987) and starring William Katt as a horror writer struggling to write his next novel whilst still getting over his divorce caused when his son disappeared a year earlier and having flashbacks to his time serving in Vietnam.
His Aunt hangs herself so Roger Cobb (Williams character) moves into her house. He meets his next door neighbour Harold, played by George Wendt who played easily the funniest character from Cheers, and informs him he wants solitude.
Given the year he’s had I don’t blame him.
He starts experiencing things that are out of the realms of what is normal like being attacked by a creature hiding in a closet or defending himself from garden tools.
If you’ve seen any Fred Dekker film then you are in familiar territory.
The humour is very 80’s, very off-beat and just the right amount that fits the surreal story and actors.
Nice creature and make-up effects especially on Big Ben even if you can see his mouth underneath his mask.
I liked this a lot. Just fun to watch from start to finish.
House II: The Second Story (1987)
Jesse inherits his murdered parents house and moves in with his stroppy yuppie girlfriend before his loud, obnoxious party going friend joins him with his girlfriend.
Jessie finds out his great, great, great grandfather discovered a crystal skull and sets out digging up his grave in the hopes it is there and worth a lot of money.
This reanimates his grandfather who informs him that they must protect the crystal skull from the forces of evil and that it is something Jessie and his friend must do everyday forever.
Seems to me leaving it buried had done a good enough job for 150 years and all they needed to do was bury it again and burn the paper trail in Jessie’s house.
So they place it on the mantelpiece in his living room where it is stolen by said forces of evil repeatedly.
House 2 is silly, well stupid and bears very little resemblance to the original.
The humour is overbearing and only occasionally funny, the characters apart from Jessie, his grandfather and eventually Jessie’s friend are all I would describe as repeatedly punchable.
The story is a mess and the whole film seems to be thrown together purely to cash in on the success of the original.
That said if you can get pass how this is not like the original it does have a slight charm. The animated dinosaurs are really well done plus it does become one of those enjoyable messes.
There is also another appearance from a Cheers regular, this time John Ratzenberger, who’s character starts out as a bad joke but becomes the best part of this film.
Not a good film but I put it in the “so bad its good” category and I did really like the ending.
House 3: The Horror Show (1989)
Now this isn’t a real sequel to House. In the UK and Australia The Horror Show was re-titled House 3 to cash in as is often the way with horror films.
Lance Henriksen plays Detective Lucas McCarthy who finally captures serial killer Max Jenke (played by Brion James) and goes to witness his execution.
Things don’t go smoothly as Max refuses to go without a fight. This however releases his spirit and Max was revenge.
So Max possess Lucas’ home and terrorises his family.
Now despite this not being a true sequel it is closer to the original than House 2 plot wise though it is more like Wes Craven’s Shocker released in the same year.
Now what stands out immediately is how gory this film is.
Arrow’s version is the uncut copy and the execution scene I’m guessing is where a lot of the cuts happened so having this in its full glory it is a beauty to watch.
Lovely, lovely, bloody make-up effects.
The tone here is very dark and serious but keeps a lot of the surreal scenes that are now part and parcel of a House film.
I liked this a lot. Yes it is similar to Shocker and even The First Power that was released around the same time too but I like those two films so one more is a blessing.
Oh and Brion James does a good Skeletor laugh.
House 4 The Repossession (1992)
So as The Horror Show was re-titled House 3 this direct sequel in the series was named House 4 to keep things consistent and has William Katt returning as Roger Cobb but now he has a family.
Roger dies in a car crash that leaves his daughter in a wheelchair so his wife Kelly decides to move back into Rogers old family home and do the place up.
Rogers step-brother however wants her to sell and will do anything to convince her.
From the start you can see this is a straight-to-video release but the transfer isn’t so bad though the film does have a low budget look to it.
William Katt is wasted here and he happens to inherent another haunted house plus what happened to him being an author?
Nothing about this film feels like a continuation from the first and I never felt like Roger Cobb is the same Roger Cobb but same actor and same character used to tie the series together.
It is a bit slow and bit silly at times but some of the hallucination or vision scenes were not that bad and like number 2 I did enjoy the ending.
Weakest of the bunch but you expected that.
I did enjoy all of the films and they look fantastic on Blu-ray. Despite the first giving a solid template none of the sequels were able to recreate it or really tried to.
The collection is packed with extras and features with the making of’s and make-up effects interviews my favourites so if you liked the original this is the best way to watch it and besides House 3 is worth a watch anyway despite what Rotten Tomatoes says.
LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS:
- Brand new 2K restorations of all four films
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- The House Companion – limited edition 156-page book featuring new writing on the entire House franchise by researcher Simon Barber, alongside a wealth of archive material
- 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
HOUSE II: THE SECOND STORY
- 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 & creature effects artists Chris Walas, Mike Smithson, visual effects supervisor Hoyt Yeatman, and stunt coordinator Kane Hodder
- Stills Gallery
- Theatrical Trailer
HOUSE III: THE HORROR SHOW
- Uncut Version, for the first time on Blu-ray!
- Audio commentary with producer Sean S. Cunningham
- The Show Must Go On – interview with actor/stuntman Kane Hodder
- House Mother – interview with actress Rita Taggart
- Slaughter Inc. – brand new featurette with special make-up effects creators Robert Kurtzman, Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger
- Behind-the-Scenes Footage
- Stills Gallery
- Theatrical Trailer
HOUSE IV: THE REPOSSESSION
- Audio commentary with director Lewis Abernathy
- Home Deadly Home: The Making of House IV– brand new documentary featuring interviews with director Lewis Abernathy, producer Sean S. Cunningham, stars Terri Treas and William Katt, actor/stunt coordinator Kane Hodder, and composer Harry Manfredini
- Still Gallery
- Theatrical Trailer