Awfully Good: House of the Dead
House of the Dead (2003)
Director: Uwe Boll
Stars: Jonathan Cherry, Ona Grauer, Jürgen Prochnow, Clint Howard
A group of 30 year old teenagers head to an island rave, only to find it overrun with zombies and pixels.
HOUSE OF THE DEAD accomplishes something pretty spectacular. Most films in this column have a handful of memorable scenes or a fun concept that eventually gets old before it's through. Uwe Boll's 2003 disasterpiece is the rare instance where a film gets exponentially worse as each second passes. At first you may be amused at how terrible the setup and acting is. By the second act, shock and bewilderment set in while you attempt to make sense of the sheer lunacy unfolding before you. And by the end, a loved one will find you laughing/crying in the fetal position as your broken spirit questions the future of humanity. This is the sad progression of HOUSE OF THE DEAD.
The Walking Dead officially jumped the shark the moment they introduced Invisible zombies.
Things automatically start on a bad note with what is probably the saddest “rave” ever thrown—a handful of middle aged 20-somethings dancing in front of a makeshift stage with a SEGA sign. I think at one point I saw a volleyball court with a port-a-potty. It's hard to say because Boll films and edits the sequence like he's the one on Ecstasy. This continues just long enough for you to get a headache, at which point a young couple leaves the festivities to fool around on the beach. The girl takes her top off, marking the only good part in the entirety of HOUSE OF THE DEAD. We're treated to some suspenseful underwater shots as she swims, not because there will be any payoff with a zombie in the lake, but because the director saw JAWS once and remembered the water being scary. Eventually she gets out and…blah, blah, blah, both of them predictably get killed.
If you play Dubstep, they will come. It's kind of like Douchebag Field of Dreams.
It was around this time that my brain began to shut down, so in lieu of a cohesive review, here's a random list of terrible things that I vaguely remember.
• As the aforementioned "rave" happens, the film cuts back and forth with an introduction to the main group using the laziest narration ever. It literally reads out the character descriptions listed in the script, as well as over-explains everything. For example, Character: “We missed the boat to the rave!” Narration: “They missed the boat to the rave.”
• Worst actors ever. The performers mess up lines and just keep going. ("Did you SEE, er, WATCH them rip her apart? ") The only recognizable faces unfortunate enough to come near this thing are Clint Howard (wearing an old-timey fisherman outfit because that was the only nautical thing the costume department had) and DAS BOOT actor Jürgen Prochnow as…Captain Kirk.
• Since Uwe Boll doesn't understand the concept of "adaptation," he makes the incomprehensible decision to use actual footage from the original video game as scene transitions or reaction shots. It makes so little sense it's almost brilliant. Whenever a character shoots a zombie, it'll flash cut to a zombie getting killed via mid-90s SEGA. This makes nearly every scene unintelligible.
Oh, I didn't know Akiva Goldsman wrote the script!
• Actual lines from this theatrically-released movie:
- "Guys, check out this book. Looks pretty old. Maybe it'll help us!"
- "You did all this to become immortal. Why?" "To live forever!"
- The male model gets a small bite on his cheek and immediately proclaims, “I'm the elephant man!”
• The main actor hurt his hand in real life. The best way Uwe Boll could write this in to the film—have him trip and fall hand-first on a random nail on the ground.
• As soon as the partying teens confront zombies they instantly become action heroes—double fisting automatic weapons, displaying high-degree martial arts skills, and sword fighting like pros.
• The unending use of spinning 360° shots. Overkill is too subtle a word to describe it. It's like Boll watched THE MATRIX and didn't understand bullet time. (Ignoring the fact this movie came out nearly five years later.) Though there's no sense of geography to the action, even when the camera isn't twirling around everyone. People walk past the same spot a dozen times.
• Right after the excruciatingly long “action” scene, one of the characters has a flashback for no reason and Boll feels the need to replay the entire thing again at quick speed.
"Mmm, tastes like The CW."
• You walk in to a creepy room and see a tank with a vicious creature swimming around in it. You:
a) Run the hell out of there.
b) Ignore the safely contained monster and move on
c) Grab your gun and shoot the tank so the creature can escape
• The film's villain is finally introduced in the last five minutes of the movie. He's a five-hundred year old priest who really, really wanted to live forever, so he developed an Immortality Serum that turns everyone in to zombies. (And he's only immortal until someone steps on his head.)
• Our heroine actually says, "Game over, motherf*cker!" at the end, then dies. However, Lazy Narration returns to casually tell you that even though she was stabbed through the heart, her boyfriend gave her the immortality serum so she's alive again. Wait, doesn't that make her a zombie?
• Perhaps worst of all, Boll has the audacity to reference George Romero as if that acknowledgement validates all the terrible things he does to the genre. We hope you choke, Uwe.
The fact that you call it that tells me you're not ready.
I think this guy wants to live forever.
Slow motion boobs, awkward humping and the worst action scene ever filmed.
A couple naked raver chicks. Nothing to write home (or watch the movie) about.
Take a shot or drink every time:
- The camera spins around a character
- A bullet leaves a gun in slow motion
- The bad guy says "Forever"
- Someone gets thrown up on
- George Romero is mentioned
- Video game footage is shown
Thanks to Andrew, Josh, Domenick and Trey for suggesting this week's movie!