House of the Dead
House of the Dead is a 2003 horror live action adaptation based on the video game series of the same name developed by Wow Entertainment and published by Sega. The film is meant to be a prequel to the first video game. This film is notable for being director Uwe Boll's first American live action video game adaptation.
As expected with most of Boll's films, this film was largely panned by critics, fans of the video game series and moviegoers alike.
Two college students, Simon and Greg, take a boat to attend a rave. They meet up with 3 girls: Alicia, Karma and Cynthia. Karma has a crush on Simon, Simon has a crush on Alicia, and Cynthia is Greg's girlfriend. When the five arrive at the dock, they find that they are late and the boat that is supposed to take them to the island has already left. They get a ride on a boat with a man named Victor Kirk and his first mate Salish. A cop named Jordan Casper tries to stop them from leaving, being that Kirk is a smuggler, but they leave anyway.
They soon arrive at the island, but the site of the rave is completely deserted. The place is a complete mess. Alicia, Karma and Simon leave the site to go find anybody around while Cynthia and Greg stay behind. Greg and Cynthia are about to make out in a tent, but Greg leaves the tent to urinate. Alone in the tent Cynthia is killed by a group of zombies. Meanwhile, Alicia, Karma and Simon find an old house. Inside the house, they find Rudy, Liberty and Hugh who tell them that zombies attacked the rave, killing everyone. Alicia and Rudy used to date and Liberty was a dancer at the rave. The six leave the house to go get Greg and Cynthia. Meanwhile, the zombies kill Salish when he is alone in the forest.
Alicia, Rudy, Karma, Simon, Liberty and Hugh return to the rave site and find Greg. Cynthia comes out from behind the tree, but she is now a zombie. She kills Hugh but is killed when Casper arrives and shoots her. They form a plan to return to Kirk's boat and leave the island. When they return to the beach they find only zombies on Kirk's boat. Casper and Greg leave the group to go find help, but Greg is killed in the forest. Kirk later takes the group to a spot in the forest where he has hidden a box full of guns. Once everyone is armed, they decide to head back to the house. The front of the house is filled with zombies. Liberty and Casper are killed in the ensuing fight and Alicia, Rudy, Kirk, Karma and Simon manage to take shelter inside the house.
When Kirk is alone, he hears Salish whistling outside of the house. He goes outside and sees Salish as a zombie. Kirk commits suicide with a stick of dynamite, also blowing up the entrance to the house. The remaining four lock themselves in a lab in the house, but the zombies break in. Karma finds a hatch in the floor. She, Alicia and Rudy go down into the hatch and Simon shoots a barrel of gunpowder blowing up the house, a lot of zombies, and himself. Alicia, Rudy and Karma find themselves in underground tunnels. They make their way through the tunnels, but Karma is killed by zombies as she attempts to hold them off as Rudy and Alicia flee.
Alicia and Rudy are captured by an evil Spaniard named Castillo who injected himself with immortality serum many years ago and created the first zombie. Alicia and Rudy escape the tunnels, blowing them up in the process, but are followed by Castillo. Alicia gets into a sword fight with Castillo, and he stabs her in the heart. Rudy manages to decapitate Castillo and thinks the fight is over. Castillo is in fact still alive and his headless body begins to strangle Rudy. Alicia who is barely alive gets up and crushes the head under her foot which finally kills him. She then dies. Rudy and Alicia are rescued by a team of agents. The agents ask for Rudy's last name, to which he responds with "Curien". The ending narration reveals that Rudy gave Alicia the immortality serum and that is why she is alive. The two survivors return home to Seattle.
Why It Sucks
- Director Uwe Boll actually used gameplay footage (recorded from a camcorder instead of direct capture) from the arcade version of the first 3 games and used them during action scenes and scene transitions about 34 times (according to the Smeghead of Cinematic Excrement)! If that weren't bad enough, the footage had game audios included like James Taylor from HoTD2 (who did not appear in this film alongside Rogan and G) yelling in pain when getting hit and some even flash "Insert Coins" and "Press Start Button", along with the game's ammo counter and hit mark appeared on the screen, showing an even poorer effort. It also does not blend in with the scenes taking place in the film.
- The film's opening credits are actually distorted gameplay clips from the video game that looks just awful.
- Poorly shoehorned in product placement for Sega in the film.
- Poor grasp of the source material:
- Memorable characters such as Rogan, G, and The Magician (the first game's final boss), were adapted out in the film despite Dr. Roy Curien (whose name is Rudy in this film) was the only character lifted from the first video game itself.
- All the zombies in this film looked nothing like in the video game itself outside of stock video game footage. Even Cyril (main standard zombie) from HoTD1 appeared in Wreck-It Ralph!
- Despite being a prequel to the first video game (taken place in 1998), the film's canon is inconsistent with what the games established. For example, Dr. Roy Curien (whose name in the film is Rudy, for some odd reason) created the zombies while trying to find a cure for his dying son in the games, but in the film, that role is instead given to a generically evil Spanish villain Castillo just to test out his immortality, and Roy apparently became evil because of all of his friends were dying and reviving his girlfriend Alicia from the dead.
- Unnessessary nudity which is absent to the source material, notably an out of place horror film frat party cliche being present.
- The opening credits also somehow leave in the part where Martha Curien encourages the player to stop Dr. Roy Curien from unleashing the zombies on the world, which seems pointless to include because the film isn't about stopping his plans for a zombie outbreak and he isn't even the villain of the film.
- The characters are unlikable.
- Bad acting.
- Poor special effects; when a zombie with a hatchet throws it at Alicia, if you look closely, there is a bungee trampoline at the zombie's place helping to make him bounce.
- Unfitting techno music (that doesn't even come from the games) that plays during the action scenes.
- During the 10-minute long action scene of the protagonists trying to go back the titular house for shelter, the characters keep holding a different gun in the previous shot before it.
- Plot holes all over the place. For example, how can the captain of the boat that Castillo killed record in his journal after he is dead, and why it's printed instead of being written on paper? Possibly the most baffling plot hole is why are the college kids holding a rave on a island full of dead zombies which is never even explained why they are holding it there of all places?
- The entire plot could have been avoided if all 5 of the college kids realize the rave is empty and return back to the boat.
- The opening narration of the film spoils pretty much what would happen at the end with this line "They missed the boat to the rave. If they only decided to stay back at Seattle, they'd all be alive today". The problem with this is that it's in the first 3 minutes of the film where nothing is happening.
- To add on WIS #9, there are also unnecessary 360 shots and slow motion during the action scenes.
- The action scenes are also unintentionally hilarious for being ridiculous even by action movie standards. Among the highlights: the remaining college kids unrealistically knowing how to fight and how to shoot guns at the zombies, each of them having a 360 shot (even Kirk and Casper have one), and the most ridiculous and unrealistic of them all, Alicia jumping in mid-air to fire her pump-action shotgun bullets at the zombies without any difficulty whatsoever.
- When Liberty is killed by the zombies, it causes Rudy to have a flashback to all the action that was happening on screen in reverse for 7 minutes. It serves no purpose other than more padding.
- When the character gets killed by the zombie, the scene cuts to a ridiculous 360 shot of the character before the screen fades to bloody red, it was meant to emulate the "game over" screen for the characters.
The Only Redeeming Quality
- The poster is actually terrifying.
As mentioned above in the introduction, the film was panned by critics, fans of the video game series, and moviegoers alike. The film has received a 3% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 57 reviews with the critic's consensus stating "A grungy, disjointed, mostly brainless mess of a film, House of the Dead is nonetheless loaded with unintentional laughs". The same site also ranked the film 42nd on their "Worst of the Worst (2000-2009)" list of the top 100 worst reviewed films of the 2000's by critics. Metacritic gave the film a 15 score out of 100, indicating "overwhelming dislike". IMDb gave the film a 2 out of 10 rating (as it's Uwe Boll's lowest rated film on the site) and ranks among IMDb's Bottom 100 list.
The film was so bad that Sega decided to resist making more feature length films based on their properties (though they decided to try again later in the 2010's with Paramount making [[mh:greatestmovies:Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)|a Sonic the Hedgehog film}}), and prohibited Boll from making any more films based on their properties. Despite the film's universal panning, it did receive a made-for-TV film House of the Dead II: Dead Aim in 2005, which brought back the screenwriter Mark Altman from this film, but Uwe Boll didn't get involved in that film at all.
When the Smeghead reviewed this film for his 2010 Halloween Special and eleventh episode, he panned every aspect of the film, and said at the end that he felt it was one of the few films he featured that he felt had no redeeming qualities.
I Hate Everything was also similarly negative, saying that he was bored throughout it with nothing interesting going on (though he did find Captain Kirk to be the best part of the film; after he commits suicide via a stick of dynamite, he says he went back to being bored again). Despite his negative criticism of the film, he feels it's one of the least worst films in his "Search for the Worst" series and his only satisfaction with the film is that at least he can say he saw a Uwe Boll film.
Boll himself considers it the worst film he made.
- This movie caused Sega to not allow any of their media franchises to be turned into movies again (though they tried again with a Sonic the Hedgehog movie) (see "Reception" section).