It’s a pretty well-established rule that movies based on video games are shit. There’s really no beating around the bush. There are, of course, exceptions Silent Hill, for example. Then there are terrible films that have gained a cult following (Super Mario Brothers). But for the most part, video game films are uninspired and really just made to cash in on the popularity of the game. Enter House of the Dead, Uwe Boll’s 2003 adaptation of an admittedly cool arcade zombie shooter. This movie is in the running for the worst film I’ve ever seen. I mean that with no sense of hyperbole.
The House of the Dead game was one of the ones where you got to hold the gun and actually shoot at the screen. (Hang on to that image, because we’ll be back to it shortly). Now, I have to admit that I pumped my fair share of quarters into this game back in the day. And while there may have been some kind of story to go along with the zombie carnage, it was not one that stuck with me through the years. I basically remember a haunted house scene where zombies and ghosts would stagger down a hall towards you and throw axes and such and try to eat you. Then you blasted their faces off until your allowance ran out.
Regardless of where it came from, the plot that made it to the film is ludicrous. A group of college kids hitch a boat ride to a remote island for a rave (this “rave” consists of sixteen 30-year-old college students dancing in the woods). On this island they find — you guessed it — the House of the Dead. I wont spoil too much but we do find out the source of the supernatural forces behind the zombies. And it’s a pirate curse. I’m not big on Twitter, but I think I’m going to start using #piratecurse. Like all the time.
Ok well let’s get down to it. House of the Dead fails on basically every front. It is a staggering failure, and one that astonishingly launched the career of the director Uwe Boll to a new level. The script is like the first draft of a freshman film student banged out the night before it was due. We have poor attempts at humor: “Muerte is Spanish for death, in case you don’t speak Mexican.” (That line was actually one of the Shining Lights of the film). The characters are utterly flat and one-dimensional. The only character’s name that I actually remembered through the film was the Asian raver chick in a spandex American flag jump suit named Liberty.
Aside from the narrative problems the technical aspects of HotD are abysmal. They actually edited short clips from the actual video game into action sequences. Several times. It almost feels like they were trying to prove something. “See, this scene comes from the game!” Also, I’m a guy who loves to watch zombies get their heads shot off, maybe more than anybody. But there are a few LONG action sequences that really just feel like treading water.
Is it scary: 1 – I mean, there are dead bodies walking around for 90 mins, but really, if you’re not in diapers, this won’t scare you at all.
Originality: 1 – It’s a very spot-on adaptation of an unoriginal video game. So…
Blood: 6 – It’s pretty gory, even though the blood in the shots from the game is green.
Believability: 0 – Every inch of this thing screams illogical and ridiculous.
Setting/Cinematography: 1 – Uwe Boll uses lots of gimmicky spinning camera shots that are supposed to be reminiscent of the game, but they just don’t translate well to the big screen. Also the house itself is just tacky and unconvincing. It felt like of Legends of the Hidden Temple.
Final Score: 9/50
So what’s the verdict? Don’t even bother watching this film. It’s not “so bad it’s good.” It’s just so bad it’s bad. Like unwatchable.