House 2: The Second Story appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Sometimes sequels get less effort put into them when theyíre brought to DVD, but I witnessed no evidence of that here, as House 2 offered a very solid picture on a par with what I saw during the first film.
Really, the two images were very similar. Sharpness looked crisp and accurate throughout most of the film, with only a few small examples of softness along the way. However, these stayed modest, as the movie usually appeared detailed and distinct. I saw no problems related to moirť effects or jagged edges, and print flaws were also rather minor. A few instances of speckles and grit cropped up from time to time, but as a whole, this was a nicely clean and fresh picture.
As with the first film, House 2 featured a fairly subdued palette, but the colors appeared to be acceptably concise and vivid. They looked fairly distinct and lively at times, and they showed no signs of bleeding, noise or other issues. Black levels seemed to be fairly deep and solid, and shadow detail was nicely opaque without heaviness. Low-light situations looked very good, as they appeared appropriately heavy but not excessively thick. Happily, House 2 provided a fine picture that almost merited an ďA-ď from me. Too many defects appeared for me to feel comfortable with that rating, but for an older, cheap flick like this to earn a ďB+Ē - which is a very positive mark - stands as a pretty remarkable achievement.
While the picture quality of the two House movies seemed to be comparable, unfortunately the audio took a dip for the sequel. While not a terrible track, the monaural mix of House 2 showed more problems than I heard during the original film. Dialogue generally sounded acceptably clear and natural, but some edginess interfered at times, and I also witnessed occasional examples of sibilance. Intelligibility remained adequate, but the distortion made speech less pleasant.
Music and effects betrayed no similar concerns, as they sounded acceptably clear and concise. However, they did lack much dynamic range. At times I heard a little depth from Harry Manfrediniís score, but as a whole, this track displayed limited scope and it sounded rather flat for the most part. I also heard occasional examples of background hiss. Ultimately, the soundtrack of House 2 wasnít terrible for its age, but it lacked the clarity and accuracy heard during the first film.
In addition to the filmís theatrical trailer, House 2 packs an audio commentary from director Ethan Wiley and producer Sean S. Cunningham. Both men were recorded together for this running, occasionally screen-specific track. Wiley dominates the proceedings during this spotty but periodically interesting piece.
As was the case for Houseís commentary, this one includes a fair number of blank spots. Quite a few moments pass without discussion, those these didnít seem to be overwhelming. Actually, though the track for the first film suffered from a roughly similar number of gaps, they seemed less bothersome here, mainly because H2ís commentary featured half as many participants; House had four speakers, so it had less reason to go silent at times.
In any case, Wiley and Cunningham provide a reasonably interesting experience for a fair amount of the commentary. They cover a decent variety of topics, from the tribulations of low-budget filmmaking to anecdotes from the set and general impressions of some of the actors. Wileyís background comes from special effects, so he adds a few good remarks about that area.
Their statements occasionally stick with screen-specific topics, but they often veer off into tangential information. For example, we hear some stories about Wileyís relationship with actor Royal Dano, and thereís also his coverage of his career and other issues. Personally, I like these sorts of tracks that donít just tell me basic facts about the shoot, but I know this kind of free-form piece irritates some folks. Overall, the commentary for House 2 was fairly mediocre, but it offered enough interesting notes to merit a listen.
By the way, the pair provide some misinformation during the track. For one, they relate that John Ratzenberger appeared in Star Wars as a rebel pilot during the attack on the Death Star. Thatís not correct; he actually played rebel Major Bren Derlin, a character briefly apparent during the Hoth battle scene. However, he made no appearance in the original film. On the other hand, Ratzenberger did appear in both 1978ís Superman and 1981ís Superman II though he played different parts in the two flicks.
Second erroneous detail: although actress Devin DeVasquez indeed was a Playboy Playmate - and also the winner of the modeling contest on Star Search - she wasnít Playmate of the Year. For 1985, that honor went to Kathy Shower. Yes, it frightens me that I can relate this from memory.
While House 2: The Second Story didnít greatly outdo its predecessor, I have to admit that I found it to offer a more satisfying combination of horror and comedy. The movie maintained a lighter tone that seemed to better achieve what the filmmakers set out to do. Itís not a very good flick, but it presented a modestly enjoyable experience. The DVD offered surprisingly solid visuals and a decent audio commentary, but the audio was a mild disappointment. I didnít think that House 2 was a very memorable experience, but fans of this kind of offbeat horror tale should get a kick out of it.
Note: House 2: The Second Story originally came out on DVD in June 2001. At that time, it appeared solely as part of the limited edition package for House. The DVD found here exactly duplicates that one found there, so you donít lose anything through the purchase of the solo disc.