House of the Dead (2003) — It’s a Uwe Boll thing. ‘Nuff said.

“No cap’n, we must not go there! It’s eeeeevil!”

Justin’s rating: Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? (Proverbs 23:9) I do, after watching this movie! (Me)

Justin’s review: If the name “Uwe Boll” means nothing to you, chances are that you’re not a video gamer. It’s okay. They have 12-step programs for people like you. But at least you can count your lucky stars that you don’t lie awake in bad at night, wondering if Boll is going to set his sights on one of your favorite franchises and turn it into a recognized crime against humanity.

Boll is a German director who has a singular habit of snatching up video game rights to adapt into film. He then begins this unholy transformation, using only the power of his mind, a malfunctioning typewriter, and a monkey with gonorrhea. The end result tends to send people into waves of uncontrollable nausea and hysteria, and doesn’t get him invited over to dinner parties often.

What’s vastly more entertaining than watching a Uwe Boll movie is to listen to Uwe Boll fawn all over his own projects and defend his works from those meanie critics. Listen, now, as he tells you why you should love House of the Dead: “I think I made a perfect House of the Dead movie, because it really shows how the game is. It’s a lot of fun, it’s over-the-top action.”

Let’s interpret that statement, shall we?

“I think I made a perfect House of the Dead movie”

A better title for the movie would be Rave of the Dead, since the house in question is a three-room shanty located on a “cursed” island. According to the hallowed legends of this film, the “rave of the year” is happening on a remote, somewhat deserted island in the Pacific Northwest. It’s also sponsored by SEGA.

Our main group of characters miss the boat taking the other 25 drunk and undressed people there, and therefore bribe a salty captain $1000 to make the run. Did I mention that his first mate is Clint Howard, who adds squinting to his other facial deformities, and who whines about the evilness of the evil island of pure evil repeatedly? I’m sure I did.

They get there, ravers are gone, yet only one person is suspicious. Stupidly long story short, there are a whole bunch of jumping, running, excitable zombies about, and all of the living people wish to stay that way. Most don’t. The end.

Oh, all of this has pretty much nothing to do with the video game series, other than a few off-handed references.

“It really shows how the game is.”

There are many video games that boast intricate plots and wonderful stories. House of the Dead is not one of them. For the unknowing, these games are a series of light gun games (you point a gun at a screen and shoot invisible bullets) where you’re just plugging away at zombies popping up like drooling prairie dogs. There’s a fair bit of blood. That’s about it.

Why Uwe Boll thought that this bounty of plot was worth the attempt to flesh out into a 90-minute bomb, I have no idea. His statement above probably references the fact that a good portion of this movie is nothing more than (a) a living character pointing a gun at a zombie, (b) shooting the zombie, (c) ad nauseum. He might also have been alluding to the extremely questionable decision to actually insert clips from the game into the movie. Let it be said that House of the Dead is not the slickest-looking video game, even today, and these bizarre interludes tend to jar the viewer into a babbling insanity.

“It’s a lot of fun.”

I must disagree, Sir Boll. How is this fun? The atrocious acting? Naming your boat captain “Kirk?” The seizure-inducing quick cuts? The camera positioned on top of an out-of-control bumper car that happened to be traveling through the set that day? The nonsensical backstory about a naughty pirate who wanted to live forever? The lack of any sincere emotions or logical thought in your characters? Has anyone actually made YOU watch your own filth?

“It’s over-the-top action.”

Here’s where I might actually concur. Every living character in House of the Dead, from petite little Japanese raver girl to Josh Harnett-wanna-be stud, suddenly transforms into a fighting character from The Matrix the second a gun or axe or machete is put into their hands. Spinning jump kicks, circular camera pans, and slow-mo rifle blasts are just the beginning. By the end, you won’t even blink when a corset-wearing girl picks up a sword and is an instant expert while fighting against a pirate with a few hundred years’ worth of combat experience under his belt. That’s how ridiculous this is.

Really, if you think it’s exciting to play a video game, then it’s even MORE thrilling to watch someone else play it for you. Right?


Didja notice?

  • Don’t you love it when they begin a horror movie with a flashback, so you know who will survive?
  • These opening credits are GUARANTEED to give you a headache
  • Opening narrator guy stops the action, literally, every three seconds to explain what’s going on. And, of course, to tell you who’s going to die.
  • Clint Howard. This just keeps getting… ickier.
  • Why would you pay a grand to go to a rave? Do raves give out free diamonds or something?
  • Captain Kirk. *cof*
  • Ah. A cursed island. Precious.
  • Puke is funny. Especially when you do it on your girlfriend.
  • I love it when someone goes missing and another character has to say their name about five hundred times (“Matt? Matt? Matt? Matt?”)
  • Just because it’s a video game movie doesn’t mean you need to use actual clips from the game in it!
  • It’s the talking boat!
  • Sex is also called the “hubbity bubbity”
  • They reference George Romero. Losers.
  • Why would anyone expect cell phones to work on a remote island anyway?
  • Ooh, scary monster close-ups. Over and over.
  • So everyone’s a combat expert? Okay.
  • Just wait for the black and white movie they throw into the middle of this as an extreme flashback!
  • The arming-with-weapons montage!
  • The music video fight scene
  • Yes, we see you know how to do the camera-rotating-around-a-character move. You don’t have to do it like it’s being discounted for clearance.
  • Epileptic seizure warning
  • Talking about people being ripped apart is a big turn-on for some girls, apparently
  • And they’re blood experts now? Mutated blood experts?
  • “Why aren’t these zombies walking around like the other ones?” Dude, if a zombie doesn’t move, it’s not a zombie. It’s a corpse.
  • Shouldn’t it be hard to yell when you’re hanging by a noose?
  • Did she actually say “Game over”? Argh.

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