“The House of the Dead” is the sort of delightfully bad teen splatter flick that exists without any excuse in the world. It is a rip-off of countless previous slasher films, and of every known zombie movie, but I can’t imagine the filmmakers would be surprised or offended if you pointed that out to them.
I think people who make movies like this do so in the same spirit that boys play sandlot baseball: They enjoy seeing the professionals do it, so they try it themselves. A lot of young filmmakers have grown up watching the “Friday the 13th” movies, and George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” and its descendants, and they want to try it themselves. They certainly don’t want to invent a whole new game; they’re going to use the same balls, bats and bases as their idols. The result is amateurish, and no sane person would spend any money to watch it, but hey, the kids are having fun, right?
“The House of the Dead” is based on a videogame, and as a helpful reminder, the film often splices brief shots of the actual game into its story. That story is as follows: Some teens, horny and stupid the way nature intended, are eager to attend a rave on an island off the coast of Washington. They have missed the boat, though, in the literal sense of that phrase, and must therefore hire the services of a crusty fisherman/smuggler named Capt. Kirk (Jurgen Prochnow), who does NOT appreciate jokes about his name. Kirk has a first mate named Salish who has the misfortune of being played by Clint Howard.
So the boat, padded with four or five teens and pursued by pretty Coast Guard lady Jordan Casper (Ellie Cornell), heads to Isla de Muerte, which Kirk and Salish insist on pronouncing “Isla de Morte.” They’ve warned the kids about weird stuff on the island, and be careful, and blah blah blah, but who ever listens to a crusty old fisherman?
Meanwhile, we’re shown some of what went on earlier that day. There was a rave, sort of, if raves can be held during the daytime (they can’t) and sponsored by Sega (they also can’t). In narration, one of the attendees tells us, “I came here for a rave, and now all that remains is the rotten stench of death.” So you get the idea that some bad stuff went down.
Turns out there are zombies afoot. We first see them zipping around in the woods. One of them has fingers that look like sausages.
I don’t remember much about the original band of teens, except that one of them is an African-American girl, and another one of them is “the biggest underwear model in America” and, by his own admission, not very smart. He is composed primarily of jawbone, as I recall.
Ultimately, of course, it is the teens and the coast guard and whoever else is alive shooting innumerable bullets into huge hordes of zombies. There is a looooong middle sequence of nothing but this; you have to wonder just how many teens were at this rave, getting zombified. It looks to have been the most well-attended rave in history.
It’s directed by German filmmaker Uwe Boll, and fairly well shot, actually, by Mathias Neumann. It has fight scenes that aren’t bad, too. Someday, a couple of these kids might make the big leagues. You never know.
C- (1 hr., 30 min.; )