Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
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This mundane sequel to New World Pictures' surprise horror hit bears little connection with its predecessor apart from the participation of writer Ethan Wiley, who also assumed directorial duties. This time around, the title abode is an old mansion inherited by the great-great-grandson of its original owner, a legendary frontier outlaw.
The new owner, Jesse (Arye Gross), whose parents were murdered in the mansion 20 years ago, unwisely searches the premises for a cache of gems believed to be hidden there.
With the aid of girlfriend Kate (Lar Park Lincoln) and buddy Charlie (Jonathan Stark), Jesse stumbles upon the original owner himself (Royal Dano), who is remarkably still alive (albeit in particularly decrepit condition) and cantankerous as all get-out. Great-great-grandpa has been preserved by the supernatural powers of an Aztec crystal skull, which is also capable of reanimating the dead and opening portals into other dimensions.
Its true powers are tested readily when the skull falls into the wrong hands, leading our heroes on a wacky supernatural chase. The horror-comedy formula that kept the original film's shaky premise afloat is far less functional here, filling the story with silly contrivances that include a collection of pet monsters and a time-travel romantic subplot.
Still, the film has some clever moments, mainly from Dano, who makes the most of his difficult character by adding a cartoonish flair, and from Cheers alum John Ratzenberger's amusing cameo turn as a plumber strangely accustomed to cross-dimensional travel.