House of the Dead 2 (2005) — Zombies go to college

“Zombie geek…”

Justin’s rating: Zombies just wanna party!

Justin’s review: I… I… my mind simply can’t wrap itself around how this happened. Seriously? A sequel to one of the worst video game movie adaptations in history? And the world didn’t end? Huh.

Apparently there’s no shortage of bird-brained men and women in Hollywood who are starving for another paycheck or a shot at a SAG card, as any video store’s “straight to DVD” shelf can attest. I suppose that director Michael Hurst (The Baby Juice Express) never heard of Uwe Boll, Emmanuelle Vaugier (Wishmaster 3: Beyond The Gates of Hell) had the prerequisite figure, and rapper Sticky Fingaz (Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood) was recruited to lend street cred to the enterprise. I don’t know these men and women personally, so I won’t take their blasphemy against movie protocol personally. It’s just business.

At the end of House of the Dead, audiences everywhere were left in a dazed shock due to Boll’s hyper-kinetic stupidity and had to contend with hints of a zombie-filled sequel. Here be that sequel. With very little explanation (screen time for plot costs money, people!), we’re plopped down into a college campus where a mad scientist with a minor in pantomime is trying to resurrect dead sorority girls. This guy is somehow connected with one of the survivors from the first movie, but don’t freak your brain out over it. Before you can say “Shazaam!”, the college is overrun by the undead, and it’s all–

Oh, wait, you expected an ending to that sentence? Tough luck. The movie abruptly cuts to “29 Days Later” (GET IT?!), as nobody’s really done anything about the outbreak, but the zombies — for no explained reason I witnessed — have yet to migrate past the campus lines. A military squad is brought in to escort a couple scientists to extract blood from “Zombie Zero” in an attempt to counter the plague. But wait! The military is also about to fire a cruise missile or two at the college, because the Navy likes to create false tension and obliterate the only thing that could save the human race.

I won’t lie to you: the filmmakers obviously rented Aliens and Resident Evil a few times to crib most of the script for this film. From the diverse group of gung-ho G.I. Joes (pale imitators of Hudson, Vasquez and the rest) to the female-yet-capable Alex Morgan (Vaugier), this is 90 minutes of oblique homages and weird zombie fanservice to far better movies. And if I’m calling Resident Evil a “far better movie” compared to this, then trespassers beware: you will be shot.

I’ll be kind enough to say that some of the cheeky lines and goofy acting had me at least mildly entertained, but this is all kiddy-level play acting, with a few zombies shambling around in befuddlement. For the possible saviors of mankind, you think the Army would send in better troops (or at least more than eight) than ones who constantly, without fail, will turn their backs to leaping zombies and get bit in the neck. It got to be pathetically sad how few zombies were killed in comparison to the soldiers with fully automatic rifles.

Possibly the most notable (and irritating) element of HOTD2 is its complete failure of an ending. Spoilers abound. So the struggling — and dwindling — group of soldiers finally make it to the lab, where they snag a vial of Zombie Zero’s blood. Good for them. On their way out, the guy holding the blood puts it in his Velcro-attached fanny pack, which promptly falls off and breaks as he leaps onto the escaping truck.

Well, crap, they lost the blood and they have ten minutes until the CGI missile strikes — what to do? Go back in, that’s what! So the three survivors go through the whole undead dance and pony show again (sneak back in, kill some zombies, get the blood, lose another member of their party) and escape… only to break the vial of blood AGAIN. Yes, I am completely SERIOUS. They get and lose the plot McGuffin twice, and then the movie ends because they lost and the whole world is overrun by zombies who didn’t do squat for 29 days other than read books in the college library. Whaaaa?

I love me some zombies, but this is a redundant exercise in running a video game franchise into the ground. Buried, never to be reanimated again. God willing.

Didja notice?

  • Fat people can be in special forces, too
  • This military base is someone’s garage with a chain link fence
  • Paris Hilton as a shooting target
  • 29 Days Later… hee
  • Zombies can be geeks
  • Zombisquitoes
  • Zombie Football
  • The cruise missile hit just one building?
  • So if zombie blood is so infectious, why don’t any of the characters seem to mind getting it splattered all over their faces (multiple times), or even deliberately smearing it on their clothes?
  • You CAN outrun a cruise missile explosion that only takes out one building but leaves the structure intact! Zombie football game
  • “Hypersapiens”? Just call them zombies and shut up.
  • The army issues special fanny packs that are attached via velcro

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