House was one of the movies we used to speak about in hushed tones during middle school lunch. To us 6-8th graders, it was a hard core horror film. I remember talking specifically about the flying demon skeleton inside the mirror who spins a shotgun in his bony hand before firing it. I also remember talking about the visible rib cage in the Big Ben ghost.
When I came back to House years later, I discovered that it wasn’t a straight horror. Yes, it had some horrific elements. Heck, it had a prestigious horror pedigree, being produced by Sean S. Cunningham, executive produced by Roger Corman, directed by Steve Miner, and scored by Harry Manfredini. It also had a pretty horrific move poster.
But there is still a lot of humor in the movie as well. From Roger Cobb/William Katt’s obsessive fans to the obese monster he chops into pieces to the very presence of Norm from Cheers. It’s not completely humorous, but it is not completely horror, either.
The sequel, House 2, was even more comedic. Billed as “The Second Story” (house, story, get it?), it has much of the same pedigree, with Cunningham and Manfredini returning, and it also has Kane Hodder (who is listed on IMDB as “gorilla”). But it doesn’t have any relation to the first film. The cast is completely different, as is the house and the plot. But it had a similar poster and a really great comic book ad, not to mention a comic book of its own.
Then there was House 3. We probably know this one (if we know it at all) as The Horror Show, but it too has Cunningham and Manfredini and was apparently called House 3 in some countries.
Finally, there was House 4. I just learned about this one, and have never seen it, but it at least brings Cobb/Katt back (maybe just for a little while; it looks like he gets killed early on).
I’ve just watched House and House 2 on Netflix Instant, and to be honest, they weren’t as awesome as I remembered. They weren’t bad, but they weren’t as hardcore as a middle school me thought they were. Still, we talked about them in those hushed tones back then, and once something is talked about in hushed tones, it gains a certain credence that reality just can’t take away.