Sunday, September 8

The Many Lows and Few "Just Okay" Tidbits of Uwe Boll's House of the Dead (2003)

Make no mistake, despite hating Uwe Boll becoming a cinephile pastime, House of the Dead has a hard time even passing as a dumb zombie timewaster and should have never been released so wide for its theatrical run. Besides most everything, unlike many video game adaptions which diverge wildly from their source, House might hang its hat upon the game a little too much.

Boll approached the project as an action movie and that's fine; however, the undead brawls just end up clunky with the film's editor probably pulling his hair out trying to make sequences possess flow with the director's shoddy point-and-shoot "style".
But maybe I'm wrong and Boll is a misunderstood wunderkind who purposefully shot in this simplistic fashion to recall the game's shooting mechanics?

Still, one can't help but wonder why touches like including small clips of the actual gameplay or weird rotating freeze frames of characters that fade to red right after they die being considered a good idea. This crap only breaks the flow and bewilders anyone unfamiliar with the video game. The franchise was popular but has any video game in history ever been so popular that such minute details could translate seamlessly to film? That's debatable but certainly not this arcade rail shooter designed to inhale quarters.

Although everyone's favorite arrogant German filmmaker might not be entirely at fault. Writer/producer Mark Altman is all over the DVD extras and it's clear he's the brainchild while Boll was the director-for-hire found through professional contacts. This is evident in the featurettes as Altman takes the time to talk expressly for the bonus material while Boll is only seen in pre-recorded clips. Altman talks about the genesis of the project while Boll mostly waxes on about being Mr. Director.

I almost feel bad for Altman as a talent like Ryuhei Kitamura would have had a field day with such an ample budget to his own far cheaper hyper stylish zombo action extravaganza, Versus (2000). Not to mention it's tough to see what Altman saw in the video game that would inspire a movie adaption considering its generic plot only designed to give reason to hurling countless zombies at the screen for the player to mow down with a light gun (kinda like trying to adapt Pac-Man or Battleship to the screen, errr, wait a minute...).

So is anything good about House of the Dead? Admirably, unlike so much terrible genre product that comes off as pretentious, this mess at least maintains a nice schlocky vibe. Individual aspects only sadly come off as half-baked, like the presence of Jurgen Prochnow and Clint Howard. They're great and if the movie wasn't so hellbent on having a team fight the dead (again, like the game), Prochnow and lovable idiot sidekick Howard breaking zombie face for ninety minutes probably could have easily outshone any Boll Ineptness™ for a more entertaining movie.

When we see actual live action battle, not gameplay clips, the zombie make-up has a cheap spookshow look that one could see at a local Veterans Hall's haunted house around Halloween. This endearing aesthetic translates to the colorfully gloomy sets within "the house" and all their tacky dressing. In between the loud techno, Reinhard Besser's score also has a complimentary hokey feel. It's surprising Boll allowed for any of this, but maybe some of his say was defeated by committee?

Finally, the disjointed action is pleasingly splattery and there's the required female boob n' butt to reinforce the flick's ultimately misguided yet playful nature. Oh, and for some unknown reason George Romero and Tom Savini are interviewed in the DVD's making-of featurette and thankfully only talk about their movies and the zombie genre without one mention of the game or this movie. So House of the Dead may not be as bad as its 2/10 IMDB rating, but we're already aware Uwe Boll can fuck up a cup of coffee, right? If anything, I'd easily recommend its in-name-only sequel, House of the Dead II: Dead Aim, as it does everything right this one almost takes glee in completely tripping up over.

1 comment:

DrunkethWizerd said...

"...and Sticky Fingaz!" Yeah. There's a must see. you dare tread upon the staircase?

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