Do you dare enter the house of the dead without a light gun?

Everyone loves to hate Uwe Boll’s movie adaptations of video games, but as a huge fan of the goofy original arcade game (Don’t come!), I always felt 2003 film House of the Dead was the exact piece of trash it needed to be and fits in comfortably with the cheesy MTV style horror movies of the era.

One thing people seem to detest is the inclusion of flashes from the original video game, which occur between scene changes for no logical reason. I think it’s deliciously novel, and as a bonus, the DVD menu even begins with one option: insert coin(s). Awesome.

According to IMDb, this is supposed to be a prequel to the thin plot of the 1996 light gun arcade game. It makes sense, considering the movie takes place at a rave on a desolate island. However, it is only the very last line of the movie that links it to the video game, with the mention of one character’s name.

Otherwise, this is just a silly early 2000s horror flick. Group of friends takes boat to the rave, everyone is missing, friends start getting attacked by all kinds of zombies, from slow to fast, rotten to fresh meat, land and water.

In between trying to stay alive, they discover the lab where it all started.

There are plenty of horror names in cameo roles, including Clint Howard, Jürgen Prochnow, and Ellie Cornell of Halloween 4.

Even the Sega name makes an appearance as a sponsor of the rave since it’s the company that created the game. And there’s also some nudity, which is sorely lacking in teen horror these days. Unfortunately, all we get of adorable Will Sanderson is this nice bubble butt shot in jeans.

This otherwise ludicrous zombie flick is all about the huge chunk of action that takes place in the middle. It is laughably fun as we get a bullet time arena battle between humans and zombies, set to the thumping beats of techno music.

Forget that House of the Dead is not a fighting video game, because right in the middle of battles we get that whole freeze frame character rotation crap indicative of combat games.

However we are also treated to loads of exploding headshots with guns, so that definitely captures the spirit of the game.

Plus, there’s a final boss battle sword fight with a dude who was a sexy fiend in flashbacks revealing the origin of the zombies.

The director of Room 6 and Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud brings us the 2005 sequel, which I used to think was the better of these two films because it was a more straightforward zombie flick.

Revisiting it, I realize that makes it kind of boring. Even worse, it’s all well-armed military men against zombies. YAWN!

Well, yawn except for the locker room scene.

This might play out like a lame, mission-based, third-person zombie video game, but there are no cheesy nods to the games at all.

However, Sid Haig appears in a cameo as the relative of the video game character mentioned at the end of the first movie. Also tying this in to the first movie, Ellie Cornell reprises her role briefly. Yay!

Horror hotties Ed Quinn and Emmannuelle Vaugier make one sizzling military couple sent on a mission to retrieve a blood sample from a college campus overrun by zombies.

As an added pretty person bonus Sticky Fingaz of the Blade TV show leads their team, but for unknown reasons, neither he nor Ed Quinn show off their ta-tas in the locker room scene.

The few initial zombie attacks are perfectly in keeping with the zombie resurgence of the era (Dawn of the Dead remake, Shaun of the Dead, Resident Evil) with good makeup and gore, but once the military team comes in with guns blazing, it’s a boring cycle of them moving through halls and rooms shooting random zombies.

Super annoying is the fact that we are presented with too many dumb military guys that know they are dealing with zombies, yet keep approaching figures standing in dark corners and not responding to them at all. Absurd.

Give me a gun and military armor and I’d still be running from that shit and hiding under the bed.

The movie only picks up steam at the end when there are very few survivors left and finally we get some college student zombie action. This includes a ridiculously tone-shifting game of tackle football between humans and zombies. Hello, this isn’t the first House of the Dead.

Of note however is the fact that Ed Quinn smears zombie guts on himself to walk among the dead way before Rick Grimes did it.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at
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