I, Artemis, was going to bring you the lost pearl that is Piranha 3D. But I found a movie even better to debut my Dark Side of the Moon: House of the Dead.
The Dark Side of the Moon will be our special column here in the blog to talk about everything trashy: movies, books, animes, series… Any type of media that is bad – really bad or “so bad that is good” – will be a part of this column.
I had heard tales about this movie – that it was one of the worst things to exist on movie horror – but I really thought “look, it mustn’t be THAT bad as they’re saying it is”.
YES. It is as bad as everyone says it is.
The fact that it’s based on a video game is already something to be scared of – I don’t know what karma follows game movies, but it seems to be a rule with very few exceptions that movies based on games are horrible.
While I watched the movie, I made some notes to be able to talk about this preciousness on earth for you. So hop on the train, because today we’ll laugh ourselves off on House of the Dead’s ISLA DEL MORTE.
(No, I didn’t write it wrong. Yes, they named the island Isla Del Morte. It’s good to get ready for the tackyness ahead)
First of All: What the Hell Is This Movie?
The House of the Dead is a game by SEGA, a japanese game developer, debuted in 1996. It’s a FPS (first person shooter) and survival horror (games themed with a horror depending on survival) – originally an arcade game further developed to other gaming platforms.
The story follows a massacre with zombies happening on a mansion, because of experiments made by a scientist – resting on the main characters the mission to save the survivors and get out alive.
(It gave me a Resident Evil 1 game feeling, but that’s fine. Both of them are from the same time)
The game, though, is also recognized as one of the elements that brought zombies back to popular media – being this one and Resident Evil the main responsible for that! The reception was good and its success clearly made a movie from the game seem like a good idea.
The House of the Dead: Trash Horror Movie Good For Laughs
The movie is from 2003, directed by Uwe Boll, co-produced by Canada, Germany and USA. The reception by critics was bad and, even so, there’s a second installment (that I sincerely have no pretension to watch, unless you guys want A LOT).
We start the story with a guy in the middle of a forest speaking dramatically how he went to an island for a rave and now everything smells of blood and death.
It was then I managed to realize the movie would be amazing and 100% from the 2000’s.
The start already seems like you’re watching two different things: it has an opening mixed with parts of the game altered with those colour effects from Photoshop and a super frenetic song (we call it “fried” in Brazil), cutting to the character’s introduction and an opening that it really seems like a movie opening.
In other words: you can already see that tone inconsistency will probably be something strong in this journey.
After that, the script already shines: all our young people are thrilled for a SEGA rave on an island in the middle of NOWHERE with 30 people, max. And everything is SO COOL, that a girl is talking to her friend in the middle of the RAVE with a “crappy cell phone reception“.
Darling, nowadays the reception would be bad in the middle of the SEA, can you imagine on the 2000’s?
Another moment that we know this movie will shine: we have a naked woman and a guy shamelessly filming another girl’s boobs. This really will be an adventure of all bad horror movies cliches.
And my GOD how the soundtrack is tacky.
(This all was only five minutes of movie)
Going back to the main plot of our movie after this amazing start, the people introduced at the very beginning are in search of a boat for rental in order to go to the rave, once they’ve lost the other boat. When the captain of the little boat sees where the rave is, he immediately refuses to take them there. And then we have one of the best lines in the movie:
“You know how they call this island? ISLA DEL MORTE”.
“MORTE. That’s Spanish for death!”
My friend, that’s Portuguese. I’m sorry to tell you, but Google Translate fooled you.
It’s in this point of the movie that I noticed something that lasts until the end: everything happens so fast! It seems like they’re on a hurry to act and say all their lines, there isn’t even time to build tension. It ends up looking more like a school play than a movie.
And the worst is that, also because of what I stated befor and maybe the inexperience of the cast on dealing with a serious movie in front of the cameras, their attempts to be badass and intimidating end up being more comical than anything else.
Thus, the main dude (up until now) decides to spend a thousand dollars to take them to this rave on that island. Look, this rave has to have gold distributed for free to pay all that just to go there, dude.
While they’re sailing, you can already notice the script deals with the classical stupid horror stereotypes. We have the smart lady that seems to be the only person with a decent logical mind on it all while everyone else is quite stupid; the rich handsome boy; the black girl that always questions when everyone decides to go inside an abandoned house that will get all of them killed, but ends up following anyway; the dude that keeps filming women’s boobs because apparently that’s the only thing men can do; and of course, OF COURSE, the only blonde character has to be the “blond disgusted girly girl” Paris Hilton style – also, she looks pretty much like Paris.
(let’s all remember Paris Hilton in The House of Wax)
A positive point? At least we have a black character and an asian one.
Also, apparently, women are EXTREMELY comfortable without their clothes on the magical world of House of the Dead. One of the guys appears in the middle of the boat to give one of the women a crucifix and she just stands there, completely fine, shirtless, as if nothing absurd is going on.
It was in this moment during my adventure watching this preciousness I decided to start counting shirtless women. We already had 3 so far.
Oh, and that thing I said about having game scenes mixed with movie scenes: I had already seen somewhere that it was something during the movie, but I thought it wasn’t real. Ladies, gentleman and non binary entities: it is real.
Well, when our dear rave group gets to where the party should be happening, we have one of the best scenes. The place is COMPLETELY DESTROYED and they start with “oh, wow, let’s have fun and dance all night!”.
It’s then that our smart and critical lady picks up a shirt filled with blood from the ground and says something bad must have happened, but everyone is like “uuuuh like what?” making fun of her and start drinking bear and dancing as if nothing bad had happened. PEOPLE, THE PLACE IS FALLING APART.
That’s when the smart lady, the black girl with half common sense and the dude who spent 1k to go to the rave go wandering around to investigate what happened and find an abandoned house, completely destroyed. They go back to the boat to seek help? No, of course not. They decide to enter the house.
That’s when they find three survivors – that I remember – of what happened in the rave: the camera guy – because there’s always someone lost who records everything and dies – the asian lady and the guy from the movie start. They show the zombies attacking people at the rave and say the only way to survive is getting out of there.
And shirtless women count: 5. Because that’s all it had on the guy’s camera while he rewinded it.
That’s when we notice the undead from House of the Dead are extremely special: they run, jump, fly even and our main characters seem like a bunch of wooden legged people – as we say in Brazil – who only know how to screw things up. As expected, they gather to go back to the boat, but start to be hunted down by the “zombies” – generating quite miserable action scenes and loss of characters that honestly won’t be missed.
(Also, MacGyvers. The police guy is called MacGyvers. How this movie didn’t get an Oscars?)
Getting back to the boat, we find out that the undead CAN SWIM. And, as if it’s not enough, the rich dude throws himself in the water to swim back to the boat, more willingly than Dean and Sam Winchester saving people from cursed lakes, triggering a scene of “desperation” and frantic action with illimited bullets – that you can only think “I hope he dies, everyone was telling him not to go into the water and seeing the zombies swiming and this dude throws himself there?!”
Also, the asian lady goes into the water with a little knife on her had for what? I don’t know either. When someone finds out her intentions, please do tell me. Thank you.
It was then I had an epiphany of what can define this movie: a procession of people making stupid things for action and beating scenes to happen, just like in the game.
From then, the survivors decide that staying in the house – yes, that abandoned house at the beginning of the movie – is the best option they have to protect themselves and survive the creature’s attacks. Therefore, the arm themselves – thanks to the script that conveniently made the captain also a gun smuggler – and we get to the greatest action scene of all.
Which is a HUGE MESS.
I was going to say this before, but I decided to talk about it now and analyze it all at once.
It lacks wings to my words to define this movie editing. It’s all chopped up, there are continuity errors (something consistent throughout the movie), it utilizes some tacky effects that look like Windows Movie Maker editings we used at school to make “cool” transitions, leaving the main action scene completely cropped up and seeming like a video game character introduction than a movie scene per se – while you look at all this with that expression of “there’s so much going on that my brain couldn’t even register properly”.
The undead makeup is pretty weak, giving the minimal scary factor and not allowing you to fear for the main character’s lives – which, also, are so bad developed you can’t understand their motivations and why we should care about them.
Their ammo is unlimited. The asian lady knows martial arts. The fights are so coreographed, that you can even see them stopping to do what they had agreed (pretty much like “wait just a second that I have to slap you now, buddy”). They have around 40 grenades but can’t go through a closed door. And, in addition, we have a whole flashback, with no reason whatsoever, of all that scene with a “fried” soundtrack that almost blew up my brain (I don’t recommend for people with epilepsy, for real).
The scene has around 10 minutes. It seemed like 30 frantic minutes.
They manage to enter the house – but not before the zombie, who was shot in the head and died, lift up his head by mistake in the middle of the scene, closing his eyes super quick and pretending nothing happened – just like when you’re a kid and pretends to be asleep in a dramatic pose when you hear your parents approaching during the night to check on you.
That’s when the movie tries to stick two romances with 0 chemestry, using extremely cliche scenes that belong to dramatic 90’s soap operas, with kisses that makes us question “do we really need this, guys?” instead of rooting for the characters to stay together.
Exploring the house to find a way out, our characters find a lab, with a couple human tests that the movie explains zero things. The only thing it does is that one of them looks at a bunch of cells on a microscope and says it’s the blood of an undead guy on a table by their side, but it isn’t humand and it’s a mutation.
The world wouldn’t be on a pandemics if this guy was ahead the health researches.
Now, you must be thinking this can’t get worse, right? It can ALWAYS get worse, my potency. Fleeing through an underground tunnel, it appears some dude wearing pirate clothes and a black cloak to his feet wielding an ancient sword.
It was then I started to laugh more than I should and ask myself “what the HELL is going on with this movie?!”
Captured by the great villain behind all that – a Spanish priest from the pirate’s times that now looks lake a fake version of Pinhead – the smart lady and the guy from the movie start, our only two survivors now, start to question his motivations – once he, apparently, did tests in humans and transformed them in zombies.
“You created all this to be immortal. WHY?” asks the good guy dramatically, pinned down by the zombies. Fake Pinhead approaches in a macabre manner and explains “To live forever”.
That’s when I completely gave up on this movie.
The ONLY motivation this guy has is this one. What about character development? Evolution arc? Why? Did he see someone die? Did his parents die when he was young? Did his beloved got taken away from him by disease? A mentor died on his arms? He wanted to be a god of the new world, immortal and all powerful?
Good question. He just says he wants to live forever (over and over and over again).
On the most pathetic escape on movie history, the main characters manage to get away from the lab and get out of the house – but not without being followed by counterfeit Pinhead first. And that’s when we have a sword fight, filled with spinning cameras in slow motion that will make you confused, dizzy and with a feeling of longing for good action scenes like in John Wick.
The very end of the movie? I won’t leave that spoiler. But I’ll already count another point to my shirtless women list – it isn’t exactly shirtless, but it’ll go to my counting for obvious reasons, so the final number is six.
We have characters that should die and don’t, heads exploding by being stepped on, decapitations for stupid reasons and the super cliche ending with two men arriving on a helicopter on the island saying they were there to rescue them.
Umbrella was behind all this, I’m certain of it.
I won’t lie: the ending is very similar to Resident Evil’s – the first RE movie came to the big screen in 2002. Clearly, the intention was to create a franchise that would be as successful as RE – but, honestly, there are many reasons why it didn’t work.
The problem is that House of the Dead have many points during the script that could have worked. If tailored in the right way – and correcting the many unending cliches on the script – there would be discussions about survival, leaving your friends behind, killing your own friends after seeing them turning into zombies, ending your own life in order not to turn into a creature, among others, that are worthy of an undead movie.
But the way it was done, the movie looks more like something trash to watch on a Sunday afternoon and laugh yourself off rather than a horror/thriller movie like it was supposed to be.
Everything House of the Dead got wrong, the first Resident Evil movie got right. I know many complain about it and the movie is far from perfect, but Resident Evil does a good job on building characters and atmosphere, giving us a zombie experience a billion times better than House of the Dead.
Bonus: Watch This Preciousness of the Movies – The House of the Dead
You got this far and you’re still convinced to watch this wonderful thing that is House of the Dead? Ok! Go at your own risk, also keeping an open mind to laugh it off. You can find the movie on Youtube, so I’ll leave the link below so you can have fun!
After that, drop by to tell me what you think about this horrific thing!
Depois venham me contar o que acharam desse horror!
English Version (unfortunetely, there are a few cuts, but nothing that gets TOO in the way of this amazing thing): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muzr0-OPl5M&has_verified=1&ab_channel=GeneralJoshua
Bonus 2: Dark Side of the Moon
On this column of everything that is trash and bad per se, the Dark Side of the Moon, counts to its debut with the whole newsroom of Lune Station! I’ll leave the link to Selene’s and Hekate’s posts below, which are horror movies equally trashes and bad, so we can have fun during this Halloween!