House II: The Second Story (1987)

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Released 7-Aug-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-House IV
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Dolby Digital Trailer-Aurora
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1987
Running Time 84:13 (Case: 88)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor
New World Pictures
Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Arye Gross
Amy Yasbeck
John Ratzenberger
Bill Maher
Case Click-Double
RPI ? Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Like many films from the 1980s (horror films in particular), House was the first in a series. Whether it was put down to a lack of creative juice, or the hope of instant success, House II: The Second Story was released only one year after its prequel. Unfortunately, actors William Katt and George Wendt - who helped make the original film watchable - didn’t want a piece of this sequel, which is one of House II’s many downfalls. But its main downfall is that it doesn’t tie into the first film much at all. Yeah the house is back, and its full of Zombies, but that’s about it.

    Jesse (Arye Gross) has inherited the house in this sequel. He moves in with his girlfriend Kate (Lar Park-Lincoln). Jesse’s friend Charlie (Jonathan Stark) and his pop-singer girlfriend Jana (Amy Yasbeck) show up one night, and join the 2 in their house. Looking through some relics from his relatives, Jesse stumbles upon a photograph of his great, great grandfather, with an ancient Aztec skull. After discovering where the skull is buried, Jesse and Charlie decide to dig it up. In doing so, Jesse’s zombified (is that even a word?) grandfather is exhumed, who explains the importance of the skull to Jesse. What ensues is a pretty bland film that goes for more laughs than gasps, resulting in very cheesy and forgettable PG-rated experience.

    Having not seen House II for nearly as long as its sequel, I was kind of looking forward to revisiting this film, if only for nostalgia. There’s not much to this film that I enjoyed. Going from stupid to ridiculous at times, House II is not a good film, and is a terrible sequel. The thing that really worries me is that there are 2 more to come. With any luck, the R-rating on House III might save the series………one can only hope.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The video transfer is quite good considering the film is now 15 years old. Overall, the transfer for House II: The Second Story looks about as good as House did. There's no major differences between the two.

    I was pleasantly surprised to find out that like its prequel, House II: The Second Story is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced – not Pan & Scan as advertised.

    Sharpness is not perfect, but this transfer fares a tad better than its predecessor. Tending to look a bit soft at times, the overall sharpness was a minor flaw of little concern. Shadow detail and black levels were quite strong, but again lacked the detail of a newer print, which is to be expected. Very light grain was present throughout most of the film's running time, which is to be expected and is nothing to worry about.

    Colours seemed fairly good for the most part, if only slightly subdued, which is again put down to the age of the print.

    MPEG artefacts seemed non-existent, but light film artefacts such as dirt, hairs and scratches were fairly frequent throughout. They never stood out enough to become distracting, and were to be expected due to the age of the print.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio transfer was also very similar to the transfer on the House disc, in that is is active but badly mixed.

    We are given the choice of watching House II: The Second Story with a very loud Dolby Digital 5.1 track or in Dolby Digital 2.0. I predominantly watched the film in 5.1, switching to 2.0 at certain times throughout. I would go with the 5.1 track, as the 2.0 was not quite as clear.

    Dialogue was fairly clear overall, never distorting or becoming unintelligible, but some of the screams made me wince a bit at times. The quality of the audio was not as clear as I would have liked, and the volume levels were way too loud. I had to turn my amp down to about 9, whereas a normal Dolby Digital 5.1 track works best at around 15 on my amp. There were no problems with audio sync at all throughout the entire running time.

    The score by Harry Manfredini was actually the best part of the soundtrack, as it was supported nicely by all channels, with some satisfactory low-end.

    Surround channel usage is where the main problem occurs with the 5.1 mix. The channels are quite active, but it is the actual placement of sound effects that is poorly mixed. Any sound effect, such as footsteps or a door opening, that should only be mixed to the centre and/or front channels is heard coming from all speakers. It appears that every element of the soundtrack, except for dialogue, has been spliced into 5 separate mono tracks. There is no directionality in the surrounds, and it was quite disappointing overall.

    The subwoofer had a bit of work to do, but it was only really used to support the film's score. There were chances for the sub to kick in, such as gunfire and other sound effects, but unfortunately it was underused. I would still stick with the 5.1 mix, if only for the music score.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Trailer - House 2 (1.19)

    The exact same trailer as on the first disc. It's weird that this trailer is on both discs, but no trailers for the first or third films are to be found so far.

Trailer - House 4 (1.45)

    The same trailer as on the first disc.

Menu Animation & Audio

    The main menu consists of a shot of the house from the film, which is frequently struck by lightning. Rain and thunder supports the animations, with the same eerie sounds and screams from the first film's main menu. The film's title is to the left of the house, in a flashing animated font, which sits above a picture of the Aztec skull.

Dolby Digital Trailer - Aurora (0:33)

    One of the blander Dolby Digital trailers, although it is one of my favourites.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region 4 version misses out on an audio commentary from director Ethan Wiley and producer Sean S. Cunningham.

    Only the first two films of the series have been released on DVD in Region 1. The Region 1 DVD for House II: The Second Story misses out on a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix.

    As with the prequel's DVD, the commentary track is apparently not the best ever recorded, but is still a regrettable omission which makes the Region 1 version a clear winner. However, the box set is unavailable in Region 1, so it's a bit of a mixed bag. If you only want the first two films, go with Region 1. If you are a fan of all four films, then the Region 4 box set is the way to go. If you're a completist, you'll want to snag both versions to get extras plus the entire series.

Summary

     House II: The Second Story is a pretty bad film, and a terrible sequel. I know there are still some fans out there, but this is one film that doesn't have much to offer me anymore. Perhaps it was fun when I was a kid, but it was quite the opposite this time around.

    The video transfer is quite good for its age.

    The audio transfer is a bit disappointing, due to a poor surround mix.

    The extra features are unfortunately disappointing, especially knowing what is on the Region 1 version.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Pockett (If you're really bored, you can read my bio...)
Saturday, September 21, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-525, using Component output
DisplayTeac 82cm 16x9. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
Speakers5 Sony speakers; Sherwood 12" 100w Powered Subwoofer

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Comments (Add)
Why isnt the US/UK dvd company 'Anchor Bay' in Australia??/Halloween DVDs - Grove
Buy the Region 1 or R2 Halloween box set -