House of the Dead 1 & 2
House of the Dead (October 10/03)
House of the Dead manages to suck as both a videogame adaptation and a zombie flick. The film takes a reasonably simple premise - a bunch of college kids head out to an island for a rave, where they encounter zombies a-plenty - and mucks it up. Director Uwe Boll makes the astoundingly misguided decision to include footage of the actual video game during the film's action sequences, which are already interminable enough due to the pounding techno score and hyper editing. There's one sequence that comes in the middle of the film, revolving around a battle between the remaining survivors and hoards of zombies, that's violent enough to hold some interest - but really, the majority of House of the Dead is just too over-the-top and unpleasant to really become enjoyable. Sporadic instances of comedy are welcome (ie there's a character named Captain Kirk who hates jokes made about his name), but are soon overwhelmed by the incessant action. And what's with the absurd backstory about how the zombies got to the island?
House of the Dead 2 (March 12/06)
Though Uwe Boll has absolutely nothing to do with the production, House of the Dead 2 is actually just as inept as its predecessor - due in no small part to Mark A. Altman's atrocious screenplay, Mike Hurst's clumsy direction, and a whole host of subpar performances. The true awfulness of the film is made clear early on, with a sequence in which a scientist (Sid Haig) - upon learning that his life's work has been rendered moot - delivers an overwrought, thoroughly absurd soliloquy that essentially comes off as an inner monologue spoken aloud (ie "I failed. I am a complete and utter failure.") The dialogue isn't much better (which is actually fairly surprising, considering Altman co-wrote the cult classic Free Enterprise), with characters forced to recite cliched bits of nonsense as Altman tries desperately to ape Aliens' tough-as-nails vibe (that he fails completely goes without saying). The performances are expectedly awful, though - to be fair - even the most accomplished actor would have trouble breathing life into these ridiculously broad stereotypes. And while there are one or two intriguing moments spread throughout the film's interminable 95 minutes - ie the zombie virus can be spread by mosquitoes - House of the Dead 2 is undoubtedly one of the worst horror sequels to come around in a good long while.