One of the odder horror franchises of the VHS era, the House series spans four films, three of which have nothing linking them to each other apart from their titles and some creative personnel.
House (1986) stars William Katt as a troubled author who moves back to his old family home to write about his experiences during the Vietnam war, only to be plagued by all manner of monsters (and a set of self-willed garden tools). A big hit on video back in the day, this horror-comedy may be pretty tame compared to many of its contemporaries, but it's still a lot of fun and serves of a reminder of the glory days of prosthetic creature effects.
The unrelated House II: The Second Story (1987) is even lighter in tone than its predecessor, almost entirely ditching the horror in favour of a supernatural adventure story that sees a young man (Arye Gross) helping his zombie cowboy grandfather (Royal Dano) to protect a magical crystal skull.
House III: The Horror Show (1989) has Lance Henriksen's police detective battling the ghost of a serial killer (Brion James). Grim and bloody stuff, the film dropped the House title in the US and really does feel like the product of a different franchise.
Finally we have House IV: The Repossession (1992), which features the ghost of William Katt's character from the first film trying to protect his family from some low-rent hoodlums. Add bogus native American mysticism and a haunted pizza and the end result is a garbled mess of a movie.
Picture: Arrow has restored all four House films in 2K from original 35mm elements: interpositives in the case of the first three, an internegative for the fourth. For the most part, the end results are as good as could be hoped for, although there are a couple of caveats worth mentioning.
The first two films look by far the best, although the decision to reveal more of the image area in House has resulted in a few shots that feature unwanted picture information on the left of the frame (including a crew member's arm at one point).
House III… is presented as both the heavily-cut US version and longer European incarnation, both of which look authentically dark and grubby. Despite the clean-up, House IV… has an inherent softness similar to that of a TV movie.
Picture rating: 4/5
Audio: All four films offer up LPCM 2.0 presentations of their original stereo soundtracks and DTS-HD MA 5.1 remixes (House also adds an LPCM mono track). For our money, the original stereo tracks are the best, with the 5.1 affairs seemingly opting to simply bump up the volume to make up for a shortfall in effective surround cues.
Audio rating: 3.5/5
Extras: Each movie is accompanied by audio commentaries, trailers and stills galleries, while the first, second and fourth films are also supported by a series of retrospective Making of… featurettes (the third opts for separate interviews instead – one of which includes behind-the-scenes footage of the legendary 'open heart' scene). This limited edition boxset also comes bundled with a mammoth 148-page book about the series.
Extras rating: 4.5/5
We say: A strong – but not perfect – hi-def showcase for this wildly inconsistent quartet of horrors.
House: The Collection, Arrow Video, Region A/B BD & R2 DVD, £60
HCC VERDICT: 3.5/5
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