The “House of the Dead” film series has plenty of detractors, but it deserves credit for honoring its source material and delivering tons of mindless fun.
It’s Saturday, so that means it’s time to find another gem hidden among the ocean of forgotten bad horror movies. Today, the focus is on a film series that has garnished plenty of mixed reviews, some dismissing its underwhelming effects and sloppy acting, with others praising it for its familiarity to the original source.
House of the Dead (2003) and House of the Dead II (2005) will never win any awards, but they do earn their time in the spotlight this Garbage Day.
Video game adaptations and zombie films can become incredibly popular if done right — and fade into oblivion when done wrong. Movies such as Doom have been met with lukewarm reception, while powerhouses such as Resident Evil keep on going regardless of how the story has evolved. Even Silent Hill has had moderate success on the big screen. The reason is simple, people love seeing video game worlds expanded upon, as long as they are entertaining.
House of the Dead and House of the Dead II expand upon the classic arcade turned platform game series House of the Dead. These films are based upon and named after the popular Sega franchise.
While not ever achieving the same status as other game-based movies, these two films stand up to the test when compared to their source material.
More importantly, these films are said to be part of the cannon story that the multi-platform video game franchise created. Many films inspired by popular video games build their own separate lore, but these two films are actually part of the lore established by their source material.
House of the Dead is said to take place relatively before the core game series (direct sequel games). The graphics and make-up effects appear date, even by 2005 standards. But that’s for good reason. The original House of the Dead game itself looks dated — be it by choice or flawed execution.
The newly infected zombies in the first movie are very similar when compared to the game. The characters all feel like they came right out of a video game, from costume design to dialogue, and watching them almost feels like a watching a cut-scene at times.
House of the Dead might start out slow, but when the guns are exchanged and the zombie killing begins, that’s where this movie really shines.
The video game influences really come through when our rag-tag group of heroes battle their way through a hoard of zombies, dispatching them with graphic special abilities and maneuvers. Zombie movie and video game fans will certainly enjoy watching the undead be mowed down, as the whole film seems to build up to this moment.
The payoff is worth the wait, as House of the Dead demonstrates its unique appreciation and understanding for the source material.
House of the Dead II doesn’t have the same obvious fleshed out story building as its predecessor, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a story there. The biggest complaint about the sequel is that things don’t seem to make sense. But the truth is, the story just remains hidden under layers of badass zombie carnage.
House of the Dead II doesn’t waste any time before the infection is well under way, which also reflects and understanding for its source material.
Much like the classic arcade shooters, this movie features two characters battling their way through hordes of undead for some shadowy figurehead company. It’s filled to the brim with cheesy action hero one liners and splattering heads. The makeup work for the zombies this time is much more pronounced, as are all the special and physical effects. Horror fans will also enjoy Sid Haig in his brief moments on screen.
Little is added to the franchise lore with this one, but it still earns its place among the rest of the series.
House of the Dead II is certainly the weaker of the two films from a purely cinematic standpoint. Due to the limited number of characters in this sequel, fans can have a harder time connecting with anyone. House of the Dead II is less about being a movie and more about being a video game that you watch. Nothing is held back, and director Michael Hurst made sure that this movie was as over-the-top as the budget allowed.
House of the Dead II is an example of the ultimate popcorn flick. It’s cheesy, easy to watch, and a whole load of fun. Just don’t expect anything genre defining, and you’ll have a great time.
House of the Dead and House of the Dead II are fun video-game based films that never were given the love they deserved.
Both films are filled with classic horror tropes and enough game references to make any fan of the series happy.
Sadly these two films aren’t available anywhere for free, but they are well worth any rental or purchase price. If you can come across either of these two in physical form, I highly recommend purchasing them both. House of the Dead is a solid 4 out of 5 on the entertainment scale, while the sequel still rates a 3.5 out of 5.
Overall, these are both incredibly fun popcorn flicks. They are intentionally cheesy, easy to watch, and a whole lot of fun. Just don’t expect anything that’s going to redefine the genre, and you’ll likely have a great time.