Monday, December 5, 2011

House on Hangman's Hill

Finally! A childhood quest completed! Ages ago, when I was a wee lad, I caught the last 30 minutes of a movie on the local stations "Mid-day Matinee" type excuse to show cheap old movies nobody cares about in the slow daytime hours. I had no idea what was going on, I just knew I was seeing baby pterodactyls and caterpillar dogs, and a absolutely freakin' terrifying skeleton gunslinger on a dead horse. I loved it. Now, after years of wondering what the hell I had watched, I stumbled across the golden treasure on Netflix! Destiny, thy name is House II.

So, is it everything I dreamed it would be? In a word: yes. Now, let's get something straight: this is not a sequel to House. It never was, it never will be, and god forbid you suggest such to a fan of the original. In fact, that's why this movie gets so much negative press: the only people that watch it are fans of the original, and they of course hate it with the passion of an angry god.The main problem is that this isn't a gory cheese fest like the original or Evil Dead, it's a whacky adventure more in the vein of Gremlins or Weird Science. And the the thing is, it's a GOOD one. 

The story revolves around a struggling artist that inherits a giant Aztec themed house that is rumored to act like a dimensional portal when a crystal skull ( bear in mind this was made in the 80's. I had no idea this myth had been around that long. Suck it, Lucas!) is put in the mantle. So after digging up his great great grandfather's grave, he finds out that not only does grandpappy have the skull, he's still alive and well. Well, for a zombie. And the hi-jinx begins! 

The main character and his comic relief sidekick have to chase down the skull in different time periods, including prehistoric, and let me tell you, this is the least historically accurate depiction yet. Jurassic Park fanboys, get your diapers ready, 'cuz your pants are gonna' be so full by the end of that scene. As for me? I loved the hell out of it. Barbarian cavemen, giant cat dinosaurs, and furry pterodactyls ahoy! I'm a huge sucker for puppets, and this movie makes damn good use of them. From the cute sidekick animals to the horrifying skeletal horse, traditional effects are the driving force behind what makes this movie so damn fun. 

So, the the undead cowboy isn't nearly as terrifying as I remember, but that's okay. That skeletal horse on the other hand? Screw that damn thing. Nightmare fuel for everyone! And one super pleasant surprise? The dumb boring brunette that the main character is shacked up with at the start predictably pulls the whole "oh my god, your acting weird, you have to be cheating on me!" crap, and leaves with the sleazy producer guy (played by Bill Maher) who's been horn-dogging on her the whole time. Does the main character whine and chase after his "one true love" for the rest of the movie? Hell no, he forgets about her dull ass and hooks up with the awesome Aztec princess they meet half way through the adventure! Finally, now that's an ending I can get behind.

If you've got an hour and a half to burn, and some witty friends with a good sense of fun over quality (and possibly a little liquor in them) give House II a shot. At the very least, it's a nice escape from the overly dramatic (or overly stupid) movies we get today.

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