For my last article for 31 days of horror, I wanted to do something special and take a different direction. I want to go back in time to when things were simpler and fun, so let’s take a trek back to my childhood, the 1980’s. As a kid growing up in the ‘80s, I was able to grapple onto horror very quickly. There were multiple films in horror that were kid friendly, like The Gate (1987) or The Monster Squad (1987). But I wanted to talk about a lesser known film that really hooked me in as a child. It may not be truly considered as a horror movie, but it sure had a lasting effect on me. Coincidently, it was also released in 1987!
After the blood thirsty success of the first House movie in 1985, it was only a given that they would find another house to showcase. This time around, director Ethan Wiley brought along writer Fred Dekker, who coincidently also directed The Monster Squad! House II was produced by Sean S. Cunningham. YES, the same Sean Cunningham of Friday the 13th fame and he just so happened to bring along his musical cohort Harry Manfredini. If this doesn’t sound like an excellent recipe for horror, I don’t know what does.
As I said above, I may not consider this a true horror flick. But this one terrified me as a kid though. It also tantalized me as well. It piqued my interest, because this movie has everything. The allure of the supernatural, time travel, alternate universes and the wonderment of the unknown. Did I say this movie has it all? Because it does. Zombie cowboys, an ancient Mayan sacrifice, prehistoric dinosaurs, a cameo by Kane Hodder, baby pterodactyls, a caterpillar dog… Wait, what? Yes, you read that right. He’s cute and his name is Bippy.
Here he is below. Ain’t he cute?!?!?
House II pretty much fell into obscurity after its release. Being swallowed whole by the other kid-friendly flicks I mentioned above. Doomed to sit on video shelves collecting dust. That is until little 6 or 7-year-old Jared took a chance on it because of the creepy hand cover art. I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. The scene when Jesse and Charlie dig up Jesse’s great great grandpa, I was mortified. Gramps was really fucking freaky looking (for a 170-year old fart). But soon you find his heartwarming nature endearing and he becomes your favorite character. Well except for maybe Bippy. Gramps’ arch nemesis Slim literally haunted my dreams as a kid with his sunken in skull face and devilish groaning voice. Needless to say, I had many nightmares of him chasing me down on his undead and decaying horse.
There really is no way to fully describe House II. It’s a movie that you just need to experience for yourself. Plus it’s tame enough that you can pop some popcorn and watch with the family.