House of the Dead

I remember a couple of years back as an undergrad in Ann Arbor making it out to Pinball Pete’s, which invariably ended up with me dropping five or six dollars into “House of the Dead II.” My friends and I could dispatch the living dead that came hulking towards us with Romero-like dexterity, and reloading my large orange pistol was as easy as flicking my wrist and pulling the trigger. I’m sure you can all relate. Now, imagine for a moment, instead of playing the videogame, you got a running start and drove your head through the screen, mashing glass and circuits into your brain. Ah, now you have some idea of what it was like to watch the new film version of “House of the Dead.”

With acting somewhere between Troma and Full Moon, and director Uwe Boll’s uncanny ability to make a movie full of nudity and zombies boring, we’re left with nothing more than a turgid travesty somewhere between “Plan 9 from Outer Space” and “Battlefield Earth.” I’ve been racking my brain trying to come up with some new word to describe just how bad this film is, and I think combining “atrocious” with “unredeemable.” “House of the Dead” is simply unatredemablocious.

A handful of very attractive, often naked teenagers miss a boat intended to take them to a mega-rave out on an island (“Island of Death,” only in covert Spanish). So they pay a crusty old see Captain (Jurgen Prochnow, “Das Boot,” “In the Mouth of Madness”) named Kirk (Get it? Get it?) and his one-armed first mate (everyone’s favorite lunatic Clint Howard) an obscene amount of money to take them out to the island. Once they get there, almost everyone is gone, and zombies begin to attack. Fast little buggers with lots of Halloween-Outlet style makeup. The “heroes” finally make it to the house, which is good, because I was beginning to wonder about the misleading title. There, they find the narrator, who just happened to have dated one of the naked nubiles. What are the odds?

I’d tell you more; about sub-plots involving smuggling and biogenetics from the dark ages, but you wouldn’t believe me. Suffice to say, a character actually says “Here, look at this book. It looks old. Maybe it can help us!?” This will strongly appeal to the lobotomized horror fans out there.

Some will argue that this is more “Plan 9” than “Battlefield Earth:” Bad, yes, but so bad it’s fun and can be watched late at night with friends. I’d agree if only the movie were about 35 minutes long, as the over-the-top, so-bad-they’re great scenes are all but lost in boring tangents and the most convoluted exposition I’ve seen since attempting to watch “Total Recall” backwards. The action scenes themselves, such as the ones shown jammin? to DMX in the much-loved trailer, raise horrible film-making to such a peak it’s almost beautiful.

Nubile teenagers who seconds before were bickering about boyfriends while surrounded by zombies become unholy, post-“Matrix” assassins, who can shoot zombies with shotguns bigger than they are around their back as the complete aerial summersaults, apparently un-affected by the kick of the gun. One fine specimen (who I hope to one day make Mrs. Henretty) can take out 8 zombies with the same spin-kick, gut a zombie with a machete under water, and reload her gun. This, all while dressed in a red-white-and-blue leotard. Her name is Liberty. She’s Asian. This is the stuff of camp dream.

Again, any excitement derived from this film comes from its inherent badness. Did I mention actions scenes are inter-cut with actual scenes from the original video game? Not that there is a proud tradition of video-games-turned-film, but this makes “Super Mario Brothers” and “Mortal Kombat” look like “Citizen Kane” and “Lawrence of Arabia.” Speaking of “Mortal Kombat,” “House of the Dead” has, apparently, stolen its mid-90s techno soundtrack. That’s like stealing cinematography from “The Blair Witch Project.” Has the whole world gone mad?

Okay, enough, I’m just getting worked up. Pure and simple, avoid this movie. Please. Because if you don’t, they’ll make more, and I may have to review them.

QUICK NOTE:Lyle actually gave this ZERO skulls, but our system only lets us go as low as 1/2.

Write your own review or talk about Lyle’s review by heading to our House of the Dead thread.

Official Score