House II: The Second Story (1987)

Yes, I watched a movie with a pun in its title. And I liked it.

It’s silly, ridiculous, and has a plot that sounds like a five-year-old wrote it. Yet I found this story of really awkward time-travel and family legacies surprisingly enjoyable and quite cute. Somewhere between chasing a caveman surrounded by claymation dinosaurs and discovering that the local electrician keeps a sword in his toolbox in case of crazy portals, I realized I was having a stupidly good time watching this movie.

An orphan named Jesse and his girlfriend Kate movie into Jesse’s family mansion. Once inside, Jesse’s goofball friend Charlie shows up with his lady friend Lana, because Charlie totally wants to get Lana in with Kate’s talent agency. But going through old papers, Jesse discovers there might be a mystic crystal skull hidden in his great-great-grandfather’s grave, so Jesse and Charlie go out one night to dig it up. They find the skull…and the still-living mummy of Jesse’s ancient relation, Gramps. Gramps reveals the crystal skull holds magic powers which warriors from across time will attempt to possess, and soon Jesse and Charlie discover themselves going through time, fighting dinosaurs and Aztec priests, and eventually having a gunfight with a cowboy zombie named Slim Razor, who is Gramps’ evil former partner. All of this while Jesse is trying to keep it secret from his girlfriend Kate, who is totally getting hit on by her boss, John, played as a smarmy asshole by Bill Maher! What a strange movie for him to be in.

While all this is going on, Jesse and Charlie eventually acquire a weird set of friends: a baby pterodactyl, a dinosaur-dog-caterpillar, and a Mexican virgin who was going to be sacrificed and totally has the hots for Jesse. There is also the greatest electrician in the world, played by John Ratzenberger (I guess the cast of Cheers just likes popping into haunted house movies from time to time), who discovers a doorway through time and declares it is “one of those time-portal things…you see these all the time in these old houses.” He then hops in and sword fights alongside Jesse and Charlie for kicks, because why not?

I laughed at this movie. I admit that I was sad to see Gramps go. I cheered at the ending. I had a ridiculously wonderful time. This is not anywhere near a piece of high art, it’s a bad movie. But it’s a really entertaining bad movie, one worth watching just because it’s so weird. I kept wondering just what strange thing would happen next, and I found myself surprisingly impressed by it. This is dumb, clean fun, exactly the kind of movies that I appreciate and think of when I think of 1980s film.

Also, I’m proud I made it this far without mentioning Indiana Jones 4. Go me.

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