What the Hell Were They Thinking?!

Uwe Boll: Why aren’t studios lining up to work with this guy? Jonathan Cherry, Clint Howard, Ellie Cornell and Jurgen Prochnow star in House of the Dead.

House of the DeadCast of Characters:
Rudy Curien – Jonathan Cherry
Simon Cruise – Tyron Leitso
Salish – Clint Howard
Alicia – Ona Grauer
Jordan Casper – Ellie Cornell
Captain Victor Kirk – Jurgen Prochnow

Director – Uwe Boll
Screenplay – Mark A. Altman & Dan Bates
Based on the video game The House of the Dead by Sega
Producer – Uwe Boll, Wolfgang Herold & Shawn Williamson
Rated R for pervasive strong violence/gore, language and some nudity

Set shortly before the events that take place in the game it’s based on, Rudy Curien (Jonathan Cherry) thinks back to Simon (Tyron Leitso) and Greg (Will Sanderson) planning a boat trip that will take them to an island rave party. They meet up with Simon’s crush Alicia (Ona Grauer), and a few of her friends, and hitch a ride with Captain Victor Kirk (Jurgen Prochnow) and his first mate Salish (Clint Howard), who will take them to the island.

As they arrive at the party site, they find it a deserted mess. After some searching, they discover they place is swarming with zombies. They manage to find an old, abandoned house, where they discover Rudy and a few other survivors. Rudy tells them that the zombies attacked the rave, killing most everyone. Left with no other choice, they – with the help of harbor cop Jordan Casper (Ellie Cornell) – must find the source of this zombie infection if they wanna come close to making it out alive.

House of the Dead is brought to us by Uwe Boll, who’s like the antithesis of King Midas in that everything he touches turns to crap. Death, taxes and video game movies suck may be three of the surest things in life, but somehow Boll manages to go above and beyond by making Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Street Fighter look competent. Somewhere in this world, Resident Evil series director Paul W. S. Anderson is on his knees, reciting his nightly thanks to the good Lord that Mr. Boll’s parents got to humping one night a good half-century ago and conceived little Uwe, thereby giving even Anderson someone to scoff at.

This can’t simply be just a video game flick; Boll has to beat us over the head with that fact by either randomly flashing choppily edited clips of the actual video game that look like missing reel footage from another film just taped onto this, or having a “blood curtain” drape over the victims in “GAME OVER!” fashion. What I don’t get is out of all the video games he could’ve adapted, why the hell this one? Yes, video game films suck, but if I may play Devil’s advocate, you can at least argue films like Super Mario Bros., Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat have the iconic characters viewers instantly recognize and the Resident Evil films have the fan base. House of the Dead is essentially Duck Hunt with zombies and some tacked on origin story to make it appear like something more than it really is.

Aside from Jurgen Prochnow and that other Howard fellow who’s forever grateful that he has an Oscar winning brother named Ron to give him job security, there’s nobody recognizable. Fans of the Halloween franchise, and by that I mean the crappy ones, and by crappy ones I mean every one that followed the first film, will recognize a “so overly-serious she must’ve been tricked into believing this was a completely different film” Ellie Cornell (Rachel Carruthers from Halloween 4 and 5) as the hard-nosed harbor cop. In all fairness, unrecognizable actors doesn’t necessarily mean the acting’s gonna suck. In all honesty, though, it does here.

Does it, though? If you can wade through the muck that is the dialogue in this film with that straight of a face for 90 minutes, then that’s showing some serious discipline that not even the highest level of any of the martial arts can bestow upon you.

I’m not giving the characters enough credit. I truly believe that for being reanimated, undead, flesh-eating corpses relying on no other bodily function besides their brain’s ability to control movement, their ability to somehow change from their party clothes to whatever drab, tattered crap they’re wearing afterward is progress for the zombie community.

One thing’s for certain – Uwe Boll is definitely a fan of The Matrix, given his penchant for the discotheque soundtrack and bullet time technique, or more accurately, a retarded form of it. I’m sure, though, that Boll’s most ardent supporters pass what was probably more along the lines of his cast standing perfectly still in their fighting stance while he just whirls the camera around them repeatedly as “bullet time”. Just a warning for those who have epilepsy: you will hate this movie.

A part of me wonders if this was actually a film? There’s a solid case to be made that this was in fact not a film, but just Uwe Boll and his crew quickly running through one of those cheap haunted house shows that open up every Halloween, and counting every customer who paid to have some Party City costumed high school dropout jump out and scream at them as a cast member. I can sleep better at night knowing that was the case and that this wasn’t an actual attempt at making a movie that somehow managed to get distribution while other much more talented amateur filmmakers, still waiting for their big break, shake their fist angrily at the sky and yell, “WHY, GOD?!!! WHY?!!!!!!!”

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