House of the Dead

Come back Lara Croft, all is forgiven!

Released in 2003, certified USA-R. Reviewed on 31 Dec 2003 by Craig Eastman
House of the Dead image

Who'd have thunk it; a videogame to movie adaptation that makes Tomb Raider look like Ben Hur. Actually I suppose it was inevitable, given the very large number of very badly plotted yet incredibly popular licenses that exist out there. Enter House of the Dead, a game which involves the player aiming a big plastic gun at the TV and shooting all manner of zombies into very gory pieces, and now a movie which involves the viewer taking a back seat as some vacuous American teenagers point big metal guns and shoot all manner of zombies into very gory pieces. A recipe for excitement it aint...

Things start badly with a title sequence consisting of footage of the game that's been put through an Adobe filter and overlayed with some hideous techno music that seems to have been inspired by the game. "Danger danger!" yells some cockney bloke, "You found the exit...but they locked it!". And on that bombshell... Things go from bad to worse with an island 'rave', heavily sponsored by Sega yet attended by all of about twenty people, which sees various scantily clad women flashing their tits whilst gyrating like heavily lubed cobras on a rapid spin cycle. Still, it must really be a shit-hot rave because a group of teenagers are desperate enough to bribe J?rgen Prochnow with $1000 to take them to said island on his boat. Presumably this isn't the first time he's been bribed recently, since it's hard to imagine a rational explanation as to why the captain of Das Boot is now smuggling cigars around the coves of New England in a vessel that would make Quint snort with derision in a movie whose turgidity I struggle to comprehend.

Lo it comes to pass that the reason for the rave being abandoned by the time they get there is that the island is infested with zombies, and before you can say "suffer like G did" the poor teens are dropping like flies amidst a barrage of paltry makeup effects. Not that it seems to worry J?rgen much, since beneath his box of Cuban smokes he's hiding an arsenal of weaponry that would make the terminator blush. Cue an hour of incessant gunfire as the teens tool up with the help of Prochnow and some woman who seems to be a local ranger, before launching an incredibly noisy yet unbelievably dull assault on the zombie fortress. It truly is the most soulless piece of 'action' cinema you will see, punctuated by really crap pseudo bullet-time effects and interspersed with bizarre jump-cuts to footage of the actual video game. It's messy, nonsensical and above all crap, but it does teach us that zombie's heads often erupt exactly like watermelons with small explosive charges in them. Man, that's old school fx, boyeeeee!

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The torrent of violence and straight-to-video thespianism continues unabated until eventually someone stumbles on the mutated plasma that's responsible for all these reanimated high-jinks, whereupon some chief zombie dude makes an entrance and there's some vague exposition as to his origins; something along the lines of sailors from the Spanish Armada who got stranded (I shit you not). Actually that may be entirely inaccurate, but it doesn't really matter much. Director (for there actually is one) Uwe Boll continues to pound our minds with bad heavy metal music and cheap effects until eventually everything blows up, at which point fans of the game will no doubt be pleased by a brief cameo from characters G and Rogan. The rest of you will probably be snoring, thanks to a combination of pathetic plotting, vacuous acting, horrific editing and mind-numbing direction.

Quite who imagined House of the Dead making an exciting and worthwhile movie I don't know, suffice to say if there is such a thing as karma they should be shitting themselves right now at the prospect of a next life. As for Boll, far from being lynched by studio chiefs he already has two other game adaptations lined up; spine tingler Alone in the Dark apparently already in post-production, and the Nazi/Vampire assassin crossover Bloodrayne confirmed as his next victim, erm I mean 'exciting prospect'. I'll reserve judgement until they materialise, suffice to say if they're even half as soulless, horrifically conceived, hastily strung together and above all pointless as this supposed 'effort' they might as well be tied up in a sack and thrown in the river now.

House of the Dead is childish, directed in the most amateurish fashion imaginable, has the cheapest production values imaginable, feels like a TV movie and yet has still managed to find it's way into cinemas. Here's hoping by the time it crosses the Atlantic our beloved Customs and Excise destroy every last inch of film in an effort to protect unwary punters from this pap. As for Uwe Boll, George Bush should be looking to deport him on crimes to intelligence. Oh hang on, better make that a ticket for two.

I have awarded this movie 1 out of 5 Fab Weasels. I am too kind...

Uwe Boll
Cast list:
Jonathan Cherry (Rudy)
Tyron Leitso (Simon)
Clint Howard (Salish)
Ona Grauer (Alicia)
Ellie Cornell (Jordan Casper)
Will Sanderson (Greg)
Enuka Okuma (Karma)
Kira Clavell (Liberty)
Sonya Salomaa (Cynthia)
Michael Eklund (Hugh)
David Palffy (Castillo)
J?rgen Prochnow (Captain Victor Kirk)