HOUSE OF THE DEAD
Uwe Boll has created his own production company Boll Kino Beteiligungs GmbH & Co. KG. He usually co-produces with various German and Canadian production companies, obtaining financing from independent sources, and shoots in Canada. He subsequently made several other computer-game adapted films and puts out at least 2-3 films each year (see below for Uwe Bolls other genre films). House of the Dead also interestingly comes co-written by uber-fan Mark Altman, director-writer of the hilarious fan film Free Enterprise (1998) and editor/writer on numerous fannish prozines.
House of the Dead is based on the videogame of the same name, which was first released in 1996 and has led to three sequels and four spinoff games. House of the Dead was another of the First Person Shooter variants on Doom wherein players must fend off ravening zombies. The nominal plot involved two government agents who must venture into a mad scientists mansion laboratory (the titular house), despatching the zombies he has created and save the heros girlfriend from an ill-intended fate. Bolls film purports to be a prequel to the game the government agents we see arriving at the very end are supposed to be the two heroes of the game.
House of the Dead was one of a host of films that came out around the same time influenced by the zombie films of George Romero Night of the Living Dead (1968), Dawn of the Dead (1979) and Day of the Dead (1985). Romeros films have developed a renewed popularity in recent years in terms of homages, sequels and remakes, which have included the likes of 28 Days Later (2002), the remakes of Dawn of the Dead (2004) and Day of the Dead (2008), Shaun of the Dead (2004), Day of the Dead 2: Contagium (2005) and Night of the Dead Leben Tod (2006), among a vast army of others. Romeros trilogy is even amusingly referenced here at one point with the situation being compared to a Romero film. Whos Romero? asks one character. The Holy Trilogy Night, Dawn and Day of the Dead. They say hes going to make Twilight of the Dead someday but I kinda doubt it, you know. (A point that Romero promptly proved wrong by making Land of the Dead (2005) a couple of years after House of the Dead came out).
On all levels, House of the Dead is a generic zombie film. The script feels as though it has been indifferently slung together with only a minimal effort made to explain proceedings. Most of the zombie killings have a certain basic technical competence upon Uwe Bolls part but an entirely mechanical feel to them. The opening zombie attack with the character of Cynthia (Sonya Salomaa) bursting out covered in blood, roaring and grabbing people before being blown away by the deputy with a high-power rifle and then a handgun must count as one of the least convincing zombie attacks ever portrayed on screen. Things get very silly when Uwe Boll starts doing Bullet Time sequences, circling in ultra-slowed motion around his combatants as they shoot at zombies. Indeed, while most of George Romeros zombie films seem driven by outrageous gore set-pieces, Uwe Bolls film seems driven by action movie poses and relentless desire to copy the Bullet Time effects from The Matrix (1999). The video cover advertises House of the Dead as being the rather absurd notion of Night of the Living Dead meets xXx (2002), which, if nothing else, is an accurate description of the film. Boll for no clear reason also throws in random flashes of graphics from the videogame throughout, an effect that is only daft. Everything is run over with a pounding techno score. Boll also casts Clint Howard, where Howard manages to give an excruciatingly bad performance as a bugged-out sailor.
On the plus side, while I was prepared to look at House of the Dead as a modern equivalent of Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959), much and all as I tried I couldnt hate it. In the wider perspective, House of the Dead only comes out around the level of a routine B horror release. Once one gets past the silly Bullet Time effects and inserts from the computer game, Uwe Boll manages to generate a moderate kinetic intensity during the venture through the house. Certainly, Boll is not unstinting when it comes to gore, something that many of the modern Romero copies have been. A notable comparison might be between House of the Dead and another Romero-copied, killer zombie videogame adaptation Resident Evil (2002). If nothing else, Uwe Boll makes House of the Dead a far more authentically Romero-esque gore-drenched zombie film than Resident Evil ever was.
House of the Dead 2 (2005) was a sequel made without Uwe Boll and is a much better film. This is largely unconnected to the first House of the Dead (or the videogame), other than featuring zombies, and uses a university campus as setting.
Uwe Bolls other genre films are:- the serial killer film Sanctimony (2000); the backwoods horror Blackwoods (2002); the high school shooting rampage film Heart of America (2003); the monster movie/videogame adaptation Alone in the Dark (2005); the vampire hunting videogame adaptation BloodRayne (2005) and its sequels Bloodrayne: Deliverance (2007) and Bloodrayne: The Third Reich (2011); the fantasy adventure In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007) and its sequels In the Name of the King: Two Worlds (2011) and In the Name of the King 3 (2014); the videogame adaptation Postal (2007), a surreal bad taste satire about a shooting rampage; Seed (2007) about an executed killer returned from the grave; the videogame adaptation Far Cry (2008); Rampage (2009) about a man on a shooting spree and its sequels Rampage: Capital Punishment (2014) and Rampage: President Down (2016); Stoic (2009) about sadism and brutality in a prison; The Final Storm (2010) about an apocalyptic storm and the arrival of a mysterious stranger; the gonzo bad taste comedy Blubberella (2011) about an overweight vampire heroine; Assault on Wall Street/Bailout: The Age of Greed (2013) about a man on a shooting spree against bankers; and a segment of the horror anthology The Profane Exhibit (2013). Boll has also produced the ghost story They Wait (2007), Alone in the Dark II (2008), Zombie Massacre (2012), Legend of the Red Reaper (2013), Prisoners of the Sun (2013), Morning Star (2014), Anger of the Dead (2015), Zombie Massacre 2: Reich of the Dead (2015) and Jack Goes Home (2016).