Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Richard Moll, William Katt, Kay Lenz, George Wendt, Michael Ensign, Susan French
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurette, Theatrical Trailer, Still Gallery
"House" opens with the revelation that an old woman has committed suicide by hanging herself in her bedroom. We then meet Roger Cobb (William Katt), the woman’s nephew, who has inherited her house. We quickly learn that Roger is a horror-novelist, a Vietnam veteran, and is divorced. Roger decides that he wants to write a novel about his experiences in Vietnam, and that the quiet solitude of his Aunt’s house will be the perfect place to do it. But, returning to the house isn’t easy for Roger. Several years ago, his young son Jimmy disappeared in the house and was never found. The stress over this loss led to his divorce from Sandy (Kay Lenz), a famous actress, but Roger is determined to face his old demons, both in the house and from the war.
Roger quickly realizes that something is wrong in the house. For example, there is a monster in the upstairs bedroom closet! With the help of his neighbor Harold (George Wendt), Roger soon finds himself battling monsters of various shapes and sizes around the house. To make matters worse, Roger sees visions of both his dead Aunt and Jimmy in the house. Roger comes to the conclusion that his Aunt wasn’t crazy, there is something alive in the house, and he must confront a secret from the past in order to save Jimmy and himself.
Now, I’m not going to pretend that "House" is anything, which it isn’t. It’s a good popcorn-type horror movie, but I’ve always been impressed by the addition of the Vietnam element. On the <$commentary,audio commentary>, the filmmakers joke that they started the trend of movies in the 1980s, which dealt with the Vietnam War. While that isn’t necessarily true, "House" does deserve some credit for bringing such a serious topic into an otherwise fantastic film, and screenwriter Ethan Wiley gets kudos for integrating Roger’s war-torn past so creatively into the script.
The audio on the "House" DVD isn’t quite as impressive, as we are offered only a <$DD,Dolby Digital> Mono soundtrack. This offers the viewer clear and intelligible dialogue and no overt hissing. But, the fright scenes and the flashbacks set in the jungles of Vietnam would have surely been more impressive had they been accompanied by a surround sound mix.
This Special Edition DVD offers many extra features. We start with an <$commentary,audio commentary> featuring director Steve Miner, producer Sean Cunningham, writer Ethan Wiley, and star William Katt. This is a fun and funny commentary as this quartet reminisces about the making of this film. Miner and Cunningham do most of the talking and they tell us most everything that we would want to know about "House", from the development, to the shooting, to the marketing. All four members have surprisingly detailed memories about the making of "House" and are very complimentary of all who worked on the film. This is a good example of a fun and laid-back <$commentary,audio commentary>.
Anchor Bay is releasing "House" as a Limited Edition of 20,000 units. Included with the film will be a second DVD featuring "House II: The Second Story". And while this sequel shared many of the same people behind the camera, the only clever thing about it is the title. "House II: The Second Story" is a sequel in name only, as it deals with a totally different house and a new group of characters. Arye Gross stars as Jesse, a young man who has returned to his ancestral home, along with his friends Charlie (Jonathan Stark), Kate (Lar Park-Lincoln), and Jana (Amy Yasbeck). Things immediately get nutty as Jesse digs up his grandfather (Royal Dano), who is a zombie. It seems that Gramps once had a powerful crystal skull and now another cowboy zombie is trying to steal it. As if this weren’t weird enough, every room in the house serves as a portal to a different time or place (wasn’t that in "My Science Project"), so Jesse and Charlie find themselves fighting dinosaurs and barbarians. The whole film is a muddled mess, which focuses more on comedy than horror, and thus, totally misses the audience who loved the first film.
Despite the fact that "House II" is a bonus DVD, Anchor Bay hasn’t diluted the quality. As with "House", the transfer is quite good. The film is <$PS,letterboxed> at 1.85:1 and is <$16x9,enhanced for 16x9> TVs. The image is sharp and clear, although there is more grain than was present on "House". Likewise, the colors aren’t quite as sharp as with "House". Still, this transfer looks very good, and shouldn’t disappoint fans of the film. Also akin to "House" is the Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack. Despite the silliness of the film, it would’ve been nice to hear the dinosaurs in surround sound.
Anchor Bay is offering a very nice package with the release of "House". You get the DVD of "House" which offers a great transfer and some very nice extras, and you also get "House II"…which is a movie as well. Once again, this 2-disc set is a Limited Edition, so those of you who are interested shouldn’t delay. Fifteen years later, "House" still holds up as a very entertaining film, offering scares and laughs, and the ugliest big-lipped monster ever!