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  House of the Dead Zombie StompBuy this film here.
Year: 2003
Director: Uwe Boll
Stars: Jonathan Cherry, Tyron Leitso, Clint Howard, Ona Grauer, Ellie Cornell, Will Sanderson, Enuka Okuma, Kira Clavell, Sonya Salomaa, Michael Eklund, David Palffy, Jurgen Prochnow, Steve Byers, Erica Durance, Birgit Stein, Jay Brazeau, Adam Harrington
Genre: Horror, Action
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: Rudy (Jonathan Cherry) is here to tell us the tale of what went on upon an island off the coast where a rave was being held. He had got there in time for the event's beginning, but his five friends were not so lucky - though they would have been luckier if they had left and not bartered with Kirk (Jurgen Prochnow), the captain of a boat that was available to escort them to their destination. He was offered five hundred dollars to take them, with another five hundred once they arrived, and with the calls of the coastguard ringing in their ears, they set off... into deadly danger.

The worldwide cult, if you can call it that, of Uwe Boll started here with a type of film that would make his reputation: the bad adaptation of a computer game. We're still holding out for that translation of Jet Set Willy from small to large screen, but if anyone would be up for the task it would be the director of House of the Dead, a zombie movie to all intents and purposes that won a serious lack of praise even from people who didn't mind the odd trashy, low budget horror movie. Before long, Boll's films were accused of being among the worst of all time.

But really, Boll's work here is at least competent, and if it suffers from lack of plotline compared to even the poorest of the computer game to movie genre, and that's one poor genre, at least he packed in as much action as he possibly could. Managing from a script by Mark Altman and Dave Parker, the German auteur (and I think we can call him that) appears to be aiming for the lowest of targets with cheap techno music on the soundtrack and actresses (including Smallville's Erica Durance in a thankless role) getting undressed in the first twenty minutes.

Among those lowest of targets is violence, of course, but considering the source Boll looks to be reluctant to indulge the audience in their bloodlust for much of the film. His favourite trick here is to have something creep up behind a character and growl, then the character will cry out and the shot will quickly fade to black, upon which it's time for the next scene. Presumably this saved on the effects budget, but it does grow repetitive after while and does mean we don't get to see the ravers get attacked by the zombies except on shaky home video footage (how do we notice the difference? the less charitable may ask).

Eventually our five potential victims make it to the island and begin skulking about, wondering where everyone has gone. Emerging from these identikit personalities is the smart girl, Alicia (Ona Grauer), who we can see will be one of the survivors as all others fall by the wayside. The supposed highlight is when the good guys, all armed to the teeth, cut a swathe through the zombies to reach the house of the title, but most of the actors look as if they're not sure of the correct way to hold a gun, never mind which way it should be pointing. As if the uneventful mayhem, if there is such a thing, is not enough, a Frankenstein element is introduced for the finale to explain where the undead have come from, but it's too little too late. There are worse films, but that's no compliment to House of the Dead. Music by Reinhard Besser.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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