- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 14, 2003

“House of the Dead” earns the bloody distinction of being the worst zombie movie ever made. Based on a popular Sega arcade game, “House of the Dead” lazily stitches together the core components of the exploitative horror film — nudity, gore and violence — without any of their goofy kick.

Released with virtually no fanfare or publicity, “Dead” follows a group of young college students expecting to party at a rave being held on a remote isle. When they arrive, they find a few twinkling lights and a full keg but no people. Turns out an army of indigenous zombies feasted on the revelers.

And they’re still hungry.

The friends find some nifty allies, including the crusty ship captain (Jurgen Prochnow of “Das Boot” fame) who brought them to the island. What luck that Mr. Prochnow’s Captain Kirk, har har, just so happens to smuggle machine guns on the side and has a few samples handy.

Now it’s a shoot’em-up just like the arcade game, as wave after wave of quick-footed meanies attack our heroes. We’re even treated to snippets of the “Dead” video game between scenes, blurring the line between film and source material.

Where does one begin ticking off the flaws? Should we start with laughable dialogue delivered without conviction or go straight to the drab zombie makeup, which will be surpassed by 10 year-old trick-or-treaters everywhere this Halloween?

The film attempts some “Matrix”-style effects and keeps us awake with thumping techno music. At least “Dead” gets its product placement right, showcasing a large Sega banner posted at the abandoned rave.

Audiences shouldn’t need a scathing review to warn them away from “House of the Dead.” Few films based on video games turn out well, and it’s never a good sign when the studio won’t provide screenings for critics.

The final warning comes in the opening credits, in which elflike Clint Howard (brother of Ron) gets third billing. Even his director sibling knows better than to give him more than a few lines per film.

1/2*

TITLE: “House of the Dead”

RATING: R (Frequent nudity, harsh language, alcohol use and horror-movie violence)

CREDITS: Directed by Uwe Boll, written by Mark A. Altman and Dave Parker

RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes

MAXIMUM RATING: Four Stars

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