Another day, more zombies for Zombruary!
One from the re watch pile…
House of the Dead 2 (2005)
Film: When it comes to video games, I am mainly a Call of Duty player, but being a horror fan, I have a grand affection for horror games too. One of the reasons I like CoD is due to the Zombies section of the game, but I like stuff like The Evil Within, and Resident Evil and even Sega’s House of the Dead.
Now this film, House of the Dead 2, was to be a sequel directed by dodgy director and film-reviewer puncher, Uwe Boll, but he was directing another video game property, Bloodrayne and couldn’t do it… or wasn’t asked. He was also responsible for the first House of the Dead, a cinematic travesty of the highest order, so maybe he WASN’T!
This is a new, fresh zombie movie, with an all new look at House of the Dead, where highly trained soldiers battle the undead in a gore-fest for all ages…well all ages over the age of 18 or accompanied by an adult anyway.
The tale of House of the Dead 2 goes like this: during a collegiate hazing, a young girl falls afoul of the villainous Professor Curien (Sid Haig), who is trying to bring the dead back to life, until one of his experiments escapes, causing a virus to be released on a campus, infecting the students.
29 days later, two experts in the field of zombie hunting, Alex (Emmanuelle Vaugier) and Ellis (Ed Quinn) accompany a crack team of soldiers onto the campus to collect blood from the source of the virus, the original zombie, so they can create a vaccine to protect the world against the spreading menace. Unfortunately, even though the Special Forces team is made up of experts in the field of war, a campus overrun by zombies isn’t their field, and things fall apart…
Let’s start off with one aspect of this film that was also a problem with the first one: where is the freaking house? The movie is called House of the Dead, the game on which this film is based featured a damned BIG house, so where is the house? The first film had a house whose exterior was so small it should have been called “Shed of the Dead’, and this one takes place on an ‘isolated college campus’ (who isolates a college, wouldn’t it be smarter to put it in a town so the local community would benefit from the kids as a part of their social and financial infrastructure?), so shouldn’t it be called ‘Isolated College Campus of the Dead’?
Continuity faults abound in this film, so much so that it becomes annoyingly ridiculous. Almost every character gets covered in a blood splatters which move around from shot to shot, and occasionally zombies that attack on one part of the canvas miraculously appear at other ends of the campus even though it took the protagonists a truck ride to get there. That is not just sloppy editing, it is plain out bad filmmaking.
The solders in this film are described as ‘Special Forces’, but i don’t think they mean ‘special’ as ‘better’ or ‘greater’ as these soldiers were such a bunch of badly organized clowns, they wouldn’t have even gotten a job at a school fete. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect a film about zombies to be ‘realistic’ or the situations to be ‘sensible’, but for Romero’s sake, I expect the soldiers to at least act like soldiers. I am no military expert, but these guys weren’t even following basic HUMAN instinct, let alone those of a highly trained soldier. Funnily enough, the first House of the Dead was criticized for having college kids acting like army trained professionals, and this one has army trained professional who act like college kids.
At some points the movie tries to be deadly serious, but the acting isn’t the greatest, so it comes off as forced, and some of the horror homage’s (Sid Haig refers to being left ‘Alone in the Dark’, and most of the action takes place ’29 Days Later’ after the prologue) are so obviously placed, that I kept expecting someone to elbow me and say ‘Geddit? Geddit?’. The zombie fan will find a hell of a lot of the set pieces in this film reminiscent of other zombie genre pics.
Another thing I found a bit dumb about this film is in the liner notes, which is a four page booklet…ok, it is a piece of glossy paper folded in half, writer/ producer Mark A. Altman hangs a bit of well deserved rubbish on the first movie (which HE wrote as well) and on the ‘teen horror’ genre as well, while praising this film, which he describes as ‘The Wrath of Khan of zombie movies’, when in actual fact, this isn’t even the ‘Spock’s Brain’ of zombie movies.
There is no doubt this film is better than the first House of the Dead, but that is like saying you like your Mum better than your Dad coz’ when she cuts you, she doesn’t make you roll in salt. There are some positives about this film though: nudity, some decent zombie make up, and Sid Haig…and that’s about it.
This review was performed on an Australian Ex-rental DVD whose 1.77:1 image has a bit of artefact interference, but basically a good picture with a clear image…which is probably a bad thing. I wasn’t really impressed with the sound on this picture: it did utilize the 5.1 to some effect, but not wholly. It lacked atmosphere!
There is a director’s commentary, which has input from director Mike Hurst and writer Mark A. Altman. They talk a lot about the genesis of this film, and how Altman wanted to make Starship Troopers on a college campus. It is also mentioned that this is a part of a trilogy, the final part being about the destruction of mankind…. please help us. I think that these gentlemen think they have a new ‘zombie trilogy’ on their hands. I pray for them that the legions of Romero fans don’t get their hands on their mobile numbers.
There are 4 deleted scenes titled Panty Raid 51, Football Practice, Library Scene and Exterior Dorm. These scenes neither add nor take anything away from the film, although it is disappointing to see that there was more sorority girl tom-foolery that was edited from the final cut.
Re-inventing the House: Making a Bloody Sequel is a basic making of with interviews with various cast and crew members.
There are trailers on this disc for Lion’s Gate Films’ House of the Dead 2, Alone in the Dark, Attack of the Sabretooth, The Triangle and Fierce People.
WISIA: Hell no, I’m NOT doing this ever again!