Original Horror Shirts

Arrow in the House! Arrow Films Releases 'House: Two Stories'

Reviewed by Kevin Scott,
MoreHorror.com

As a long time horror film fan, it’s pretty easy for me to rattle off a list of some of my highest recommends from primary horror genres all the way to the really out there sub genres. Usually all I need is a conversation sparker, or even someone remotely interested in listening. When I’m musing over all those conversations, there’s no doubt about it that the most difficult recommendations to make are the gateway horror films.

There’s several reasons why even the most solid recommendation maker is going find the gauntlet thrown down when asked about “starter” horror flicks. It’s a delicate situation that has to be handled with the most absolute contemplation and finesse. I could throw any film out to a hardcore horror fan without any concern for the subject matter, it just has to be good. However for the novice fan, not only does it have to be an unusually excellent film, but it has to be innocuously stimulating as well. You don’t want to just throw MARTYRS out there.

Also, another to recommend could be an adult that has always been fascinated from afar by horror films, but has never given them the attention they deserve. Maybe it could be a recommendation for a group viewing where levels of tolerance and perceptions of good taste are all over the place, but perhaps the most perilous situation is recommending a starter horror flick to a parent for their horror infatuated kid. You don’t want to recommend something too scary, but you also don’t want to recommend ‘The Haunted Mansion” either. The wrong move here can give validity to the more uptight people’s theories that you really are an occultist. You need iron clad suggestions to pull out of your back pocket that work for nearly every occasion.

Arrow Films has provided a ready-made emergency response kit with its release of the original classic HOUSE, and it’s dissimilar but equally entertaining sequel HOUSE 2 THE SECOND STORY. In the age of the video store, there were two brands that ruled the new releases, Cannon and New World. HOUSE fell under the New World moniker, it had the guy from THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO, and the really excellent poster art of a detached, decaying hand ringing a vintage doorbell.

What was really great about HOUSE was that it delivered in full to all expectations. It was kind of like a gourmet grass fed burger. Basic enough for the beginner, not too cheap or too uppity for the mid-ranger, and unexpectedly delicious to the elite of horror snobbery.

HOUSE also set a new standard for horror comedy, it was loaded with top shelf special effects, and it gave audiences a lighthearted take on the haunted house theme after much heavier handed haunted house films like THE AMITYVILLE HORROR. Like FRIGHT NIGHT that came out less than a year before this, it was an unexpected sleeper hit when slasher films still reigned supreme.

With the unexpected hit on their hands, a new HOUSE film was greenlit and released about two years later. The same creative team was behind this one as well, but they sought to make another HOUSE film that had all the most endearing qualities of the first, but could stand on its own merits as well. What we got was an amped up haunted house story that centered around a well-meaning guy that returns to his roots after the childhood trauma of his parents being murdered under very mysterious circumstances. When I say that he returns to his roots, I mean that quite literally in that he digs up his great, great, gun slinging grandad to help him and his 80’s trope of a crazy best friend to swashbuckle their way through all the Aztec temples, prehistoric jungles, and western towns behind every antique and ornate door inside the house. This sequel successfully set a precedent for a format that others like AMERICAN HORROR STORY would follow of having same vibe with a completely different local. Both HOUSE 1 and 2 are bookended with two great CHEERS cast members, and this one has the great line that any other electrician would likely never say “There it is, Looks like you’ve got some kind of alternate universe in there or something”. This also happens to be the only redeeming film that I know of that has a crystal skull in it.

As always, Arrow has done an exceptional job. Both films are beautiful, and come with a plethora of extras. My favorites are the both the vintage and the new making of documentaries. It’s always nice to see where excitement, anticipation, and reflection converge as writers, cast members, and the directors talk about their experiences while in the trenches, and thirty plus years later as well. These films still hold up as the ultimate gateway horror.

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