Writer/Producer Mark Altman must have thought that the Execs at Lionsgate were pulling a fast one when they asked him to script a sequel to his Zombie video game disaster House of the Dead. But ask they did and thankfully they turned over full control to Altman. Avoiding the inconceivable nightmare of a Uwe Boll return, British director Michael Hurst was hired and Altman fashioned a script that adds the wit and wisdom of the Porky’s trilogy to Resident Evil and births 95 minutes of some insanely fun zombie mayhem.
I gotta tell you that I was not looking forward to seeing House of the Dead 2, although I would be lying if I said I expected it to be worse than the original. In fact, I have hardly ever found a film worse than the original HoD (except S.I.C.K…. but that’s another story) So, when I sat down and plopped this sucker in, I was hardly expecting to be laughing my ass off at the same time as I was being impressed by the effects and tickled at the appearance of Sid Haig as an overzealous scientist who’s responsible for the new zombie outbreak.
Haig’s character Professor Curien is trying to create a serum that will stop death, but much like the intrepid Dr. Herbert West, what he ends up with is not the kind of test subject you want to take to dinner for celebration time – unless that dinner is of some tasty flesh with a side of bleeding brains. Once Professor Curien and most of the campus have turned, it’s up to the elite AMS squad to head out and search for the cause of all the chaos. Lead by Ed Quinn (Starship Troopers 2) and Emmanuelle Vaugier (Saw 2), this band of Aliens style military marauders are about to be up to their severed heads in a mess of undead madness.
Altman’s script skewers everything in its wake, poking fun at virtually anything it can gets its bloody hands on. But underneath all the pop culture banter lies an effective film, with some palpable tension and enough blood, grue and boobs to surprise even the most jaded zombie movie hater.
Lions Gate gives the DVD fans a bit of fun on the release with a featurette and some deleted scenes, but it is the audio commentary track from Altman and Hurst that is the gem of the bonus material, Altman takes the lead, as House of the Dead is really his baby, and walks us through anecdote after anecdote about the making of the film, including some very funny bits revealing the shooting of the opening credit sequence. Much like the film that precedes it, the commentary track is brisk, slightly campy but thoroughly entertaining, and utterly devoid of the standard Hollywood pretensions that often permeate even the most obscure of audio supplements.
The shock of enjoying House of the Dead 2 is less like sticking your finger in a light socket and more like being struck by a bolt of lightning, but after the disbelief wore off the first time, I stuck the movie in for a second go around, and you know what, it was just as splatteriffic and twice as funny on spin number two. My only disappointment came with the realization that House of the Dead 2 would not be joining it’s predecessor in my coaster collection.