House of the Dead

release year: 2003
genre: horror
viewing setting: home DVD, 4/30/04

synopsis: A bunch of really stupid teenagers head to a remote island to party, but find only zombies.

impressions: AAAAAARGH! How can Hollywood spend $12 million to make a movie this bad?!? I'm not saying I could do better, but SOMEONE could! Problems: bad acting, bad script, actual video game footage inserted into movie, inconsistent zombie mannerisms, characters who've never held a pistol suddenly becoming crack shots while under attack, annoying camera work. Things this movie got right: semi-interesting backstory, gratuitous nudity. Shall I dissect the problems? I think not. Let me just offer some words of advice to aspiring zombie-movie directors: 1) decide if your zombies are going to be the slow-moving kind or the fast-moving kind, and stick with it. 2) don't use rapid or rotating camera shots and play loud music and assume that every young kid in the world will think it's great filmmaking - they won't (even the current generation of kids isn't THAT stupid.) 3) never, ever, put footage from a video game into a movie.

special treat! a complete character checklist:

character description notable for...
Greg teen #1, a partying jock and boyfriend of Cynthia throwing up all over his girlfriend
Cynthia teen #2, a blonde bimbo being topless after being puked on
Simon teen #3, a moronic model-type getting acid spit on his cheek and worrying more about his looks than the attacking zombies
Alicia teen #4, the main female lead who is careful and suspicious her immense cleavage
Karma teen #5, just along for the ride some really stupid lines
Captain Kirk crusty old sea dog who smuggles weapons and cigars aside from bringing the kids to the island, he ends up arming them with his contraband
Salish Kirk's first mate, who doesn't want to go anywhere near the island because of old legends having a hook for a hand
Casper Ellie Cornell! (from Halloween 4 and 5) tough, well-armed waterborne cop who follows Kirk's boat to the island being tough and taking charge
McGivers Casper's deputy, some schmoe who we don't even see until he's an attacking zombie not being notable
Rudy party survivor #1, Alicia's ex, who just happens to be on the island and is the main male lead standing out not by doing anything great, but by not doing anything stupid
Liberty party survivor #2, karate chick dressed in red/white/blue spandex suddenly gaining karate powers, fighting and running while in high heels
Hugh party survivor #3, a dork filming everything, from zombie attacks to the spandex-clad butt of Liberty, with his handheld camera
Castillo ancient Spanish heathen turned zombie ruler some pretty good zombie swordplay at the end
Tyrrany Liberty's fellow dancer dancing topless
the DJ heavily-tattooed DJ chick her many tattoos
the horny young couple random partygoers who end up on the beach for some hanky-panky the girl goes skinny-dipping while the guy passes out

things to watch for: the credits...seldom have I been so ready for a movie to end...

something this movie has that no other movie has: A hot karate chick dressed in a red, white, and blue spandex outfit.

acting: Call it a limitation of the script, but the characters in this movie were generally terrible. The two main male kids were tough to tell apart, so one of them kept acting stupid. The was sensible, though she was more distinct due to her massive cleavage which was constantly on display. The girl "Karma" was not only pointless, but badly acted. The girl "Liberty" (see karate chick reference above) was the most interesting, until she got killed because she tried karate rather than fleeing when a pack of zombies charged. There was another guy who I only remember because he threw up on his blonde bimbo girlfriend, said girlfriend being the first kid to die. Ellie Cornell was functional as a cop who brought heavy firepower but flat acting to the table. Jurgen Prochnow - oh, a big-name actor! - played the crusty, competent sea captain, but his sole efforts at a memorable character weren't enough to float all of the bad performances.

final word: This is the sort of movie that I would have rated a "D" back when I rated the movies I watched. I cannot recommend it, even as a rental if you're hard-up for zombie action. It's that bad.

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