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House of the Dead (2003) – DVD Review

house of the dead dvd cover


Written by: Mark A. Altman and Dave Parker
Directed by: Uwe Boll
Starring: Jonathan Cherry, Ona Grauer, Enuka Okuma, Jorgen Prochnow, Clint Howard


  1. Running audio commentary by director Boll, post-production supervisor Jonathan Shore, producer Shawn Williamson, and actor Cherry
    Running audio commentary by executive producer Mark Altman
  2. “Behind the House: Anatomy of the Zombie Movement” making-of featurette
  3. “Stacked for Zom-Bat: The Sexy Babes of House of the Dead Prepare for Battle!”
  4. Deleted scenes
  5. Theatrical trailer

Released by: Artisan
Region: 1
Rating: R
Anamorphic: Yes.

My Advice: Bury it and sow the ground with salt.

[ad#longpost]There’s a mysterious island off the coast of Seattle called Isla de la Muerte. Local legend talks of an evil Spanish priest exiled there centuries ago whose vile sins still permeate the land. Of course, this is where a big weekend rave is being held. Lots of teenagers running around looking to make the Beast With Two Backs. Of course, a group of teenagers who miss the boat to this party hire an old smuggler (Prochnow), Captain Kirk (and yes he’s heard all the jokes) and his mate Salish (Howard) to get them to the blowout. These stupid kids never figure out that horny teens plus woods with evil reputation equals death. In this case, death comes in the form of killer zombies. So they are oh so surprised when they arrive to find the rave has become a dead man’s party. The walking dead have destroyed the boats and are after looking to take the tardy teens down as well. Fortunately, the old captain happens to be smuggling some serious firepower. But with this small arsenal be enough to survive…The House of the Dead?

Oh, where to begin? The dreadful acting, the plot holes you can fly a Star Destroyer through, the use of every cliche in the history of cinema? I think the producers should have asked themselves “Has there ever been a successful movie based on a video game?” And the answer is: not many, but of course they didn’t ask that. Some of you are probably thinking, “It’s only a horror/action flick after all”–that I’m holding this movie to too high a standard. But, based on this thing’s box office, none of you were in the cinema. The people behind this film think that you will watch anything if it’s got enough bloody gore and jiggling tits. These people think that you will accept a bunch of college students knowing inherently how to expertly fire .50 Desert Eagles and shotguns without falling on their asses. That you’ll drool over yet another Matrix “bullet time” shot.

house of the dead guns

And I can’t believe the amount of extras this abomination has. It has not one, but two commentary tracks. And I had to sit through both. That’s how much I love you people. The first one is with the director, one of the stars, and a couple of production people. During the recording, director Boll‘s cell phone goes off and he talks to Christian Slater for a couple of minutes during the commentary. That’s how much he cares about this movie. He talks (he pretty much takes over the discussion) how he wanted a Saving Private Ryan battle scene with the zombies and how he couldn’t get sponsors to product place in the film so he ixnay on the free stuff. Well, you get the idea.

The second commentary is with the main force behind this film, Mark Altman. The commentary is essentially him making excuses for why this movie sucked and bemoaning the critics for being so harsh with his baby. Like he had no control over the project, though he’s a producer and this is his project. Constraints of time and budget are not problems to be overcome, but excuses for mediocrity. An example of this is Altman says he and the director Uwe Boll had very different concepts for this movie and Boll’s vision won out. That’s why the film is more action and gore than actual horror. His constant excuses sound like he is trying to absolve himself of blame for a bad movie. And listening to that for an hour and a half is just painful.

house of the dead swordfight

The rest of the extras are pretty standard: deleted scenes, storyboards of action scenes, trailers. The exceptions are the making up featurette and the short “Stacked for Zom-Bat: The Sexy Babes of House of the Dead Prepare for Battle!” As you can guess this short had some of the girls of the movie running around in skimpy outfits firing paintballs at production staff dressed as zombies. Besides the obvious “jiggle factor,” this is a waste of time. The making of featurette is the standard coverage of make up work.

The only saving grace is the inclusion of George Romero, the father of modern zombie horror, in the making of featurette. He talks about the zombie in modern culture and gives some spoilers on the latest chapter of his zombie saga, Twilight of the Dead. But that is a tiny pinprick of light in this all encompassing void of a movie. Avoid it at all costs.

Buy Stuff
  1. Click here to buy it from Amazon.
  2. Click here to buy the sequel, House of the Dead 2: Dead Aim from Amazon.
  3. Click here to buy House of the Dead games stuff from Amazon.