When a virus capable of reanimating the dead infects the students of a college campus and begins to mutate, a squadron of soldiers are sent in to find the original zombie in order to create a cure.
It’s really a sad thing when you aren’t looking forward to a sequel because of the director attached the first movie, only to become slightly more upbeat after hearing said director isn’t going to have anything to do with the sequel. That’s right, the king of awful video game adaptions that have nothing to do with the video games they are based on, Uwe Boll, didn’t return to direct this. He instead went on to direct BloodRayne, another film to add to his list of godawful movies. I swear the man puts a notch above his bed every time he’s able to destroy a movie that might have been otherwise decent, or who knows, maybe he only chooses to direct the films he knows are going to be terrible, or maybe Uwe Boll is a fever dream I had and everyone reading this is wondering who the fuck I’m talking about. I’m almost hoping it’s the last one, even if it means I’m about to picked up by union workers and taken to a zombie looney bin. It’s not the worst option. I don’t know what facilities that treat the mentally ill are among the living, but among the dead they aren’t half bad. Good drugs, comfortable furniture, three square meals a day, and no one gives you trouble for being ill, they just do the best to take care of you. The living seem to be getting the hang of that last part, but there’s still kind of a stigma about being mentally ill, like they’re some kind of freaks or something. Thankfully it seems like it’s a small group of assholes with absolutely no understanding of how mental illness works, but it’s sadly still there. Among the undead though, no one thinks it’s any different from any other kind of illness like worm rot, skin sag, or gut burst. I know those are mainly undead issues, but there aren’t many illnesses we can carry over from our time among the living, except of course for a mental illness, our brains being about the only things that function more or less like they did when we were alive. On the off chance Mr. Boll does exist, if he’s not the figment of my imagination that I hope he is, I guess I should review the sequel to his House of the Dead.
Our second, and hopefully last, installment begins at a college dorm going through the hell on earth that is Pledge week, and one frat in particular has their pledges doing a panty raid on a nearby sorority. Frats being full of some of the most deplorable people money can create, one member has a pledge take naked photos of a woman to share around campus. The woman, embarrassed about what just occurred, runs away and is hit by a car. The driver of the vehicle, Professor Sig Haig, I’m sure he had another name, but we’re just going to call him Professor Haig since the name was pretty much all that mattered in casting him, gets out of the car to check on the young woman, seemingly to help her, before using a crow bar to knock her out and throw her in the back of his car. The woman is taken to Professor Haig’s laboratory where he has a zombie locked up in a cell and is trying to recreate the process that created her. He tests some kind of serum on the woman’s body that does manage to reanimate her, but the good professor is killed by his creation shortly after and the now zombified woman spreads her sickness throughout the entire campus. A military team is sent in to collect a sample from these hypersapiens, their ridiculous name for zombies, I guess they thought it sounded cooler but don’t expect me to ever fucking repeat it, before a bombing run destroys the entire area, but once there, they find that the disease has mutated and they’re going to need a sample from the original zombie, the zombie that Professor Haig had locked up in his lab. As the soldiers’ numbers dwindle down and their search seems ever more futile, a secret is revealed that there are those among them with a hidden agenda, and that agenda may doom them all. Also there’s something about a new danger in the mutation allowing mosquitos to carry the disease, but it seems to be quickly forgotten by our inattentive soldiers.
I got way too excited for this movie. The minute I saw that Boll wasn’t attached I was sure it had to be better, sadly I was very, very mistaken. It’s almost just as bad as the first, even worse in one area. When I reviewed the first House of the Dead, I said that it had terrible dialogue and a broken story with several absolutely absurd moments, but great effects and good actors. House of the Dead 2 is the same with one difference, the actors are terrible. Whether it’s Special Forces Commander Dalton trying much too hard to be a bad ass, his catch phrase being to call everyone “kiddo,” the Special Forces themselves doing their best to channel the space marines from Aliens, or NSA lieutenant Ellis constantly making sure the audience knows he doesn’t trust the Special Forces and acting like a petulant child every time he’s forced to interact with them, none of the actors come close to doing a half decent job. Not that it would have mattered if they’d gotten people that were better actors considering how poorly written the characters were, the dialogue included, but at least having good actors is what made the last film bearable. With the sequel we get bad actors stuck with bad dialogue, and you betcha I’m going to give you a few examples:
- Nightingale: “Don’t worry, if you turn I’ll be sure to shoot you before you eat me.” Dalton: “Too bad, tight ass like you might enjoy being eaten by me.” Yes Dalton, we understand you’re supposed to be the stereotypical tough guy marine, but now you just sound like a jackass and a moron.
- Nightingale: “If we’re lucky, the zombie plague will end up as a footnote in the history books, no worse than AIDS or the bubonic plague.” Correct me if I’m wrong but I’m pretty sure that both of those were and are awful. Bubonic plague killed a large chunk of the European population a half millennia ago, and AIDS is a horrific thing that has been devastating millions of people for decades. That makes them a little bit more than footnotes.
- Nightingale, yet again. This time discussing her time in an African village where she ended up earning the nickname Nightingale, a nickname she received after giving people a cure for a disease that killed most of them, Nightingale being a name to poke fun at her failure: “One day everybody started getting sick, it wasn’t AIDS or anything.” Wow, such a nonchalant attitude towards such a horrible disease. Glad is wasn’t anything major.
I know Nightingale seems to get the most lines from what I’ve mentioned, but that’s because she does for the most part. The biggest speakers are Nightingale who seems painfully oblivious of everything she says, her partner Ellis who can’t say anything unless it deals with his bitter distrust of everyone, or Dalton whose dialogue is stuck on the badass marine setting. Everyone else is relegated to a few actual sentences here and there but mostly just consists of “Fucking zombie geek” or “Fucking zombie bitch” or even the stellar line “Fucking zombie assholes.” It was such atrocious dialogue that I’m shocked they were okay with actually putting it in the film. If I was making this beast and read what they were going to be saying, I would have just asked them to keep quiet and do hand signals the whole film, wouldn’t have been as bad then if you ask me.
Much as in the first film, House of the Dead 2 is full of ludicrous moments that turn what is already a bad joke into a horrendous waste of film. The story at least makes a bit more sense than the last one in that there is a reason they’re stuck dealing with the zombies where as in the first one they could have easily gotten out of their situation but instead chose to stay amongst the undead threatening to kill them all. In part one, a group of college kids are invited to an island rave where a horde of zombies attack and kill most of them, the group of survivors make their way to a boat and kill every zombie surrounding it. Then, instead of getting on said boat and getting the fuck out of there, they walk away from it, holing up in an old church where almost all of them are slaughtered. It made no sense. In the sequel the military team sent in have a specific mission and can’t leave the campus where the outbreak is taking place until that mission is accomplished. That did make sense. What didn’t make sense were the string of ridiculous actions that consistently happened, actions that anyone one with half a brain would call bullshit on, things like:
- In the very beginning, when the fraternity pledges are getting ready to start their panty raid on the sorority house, they hide out right near the front door, their plan being to send someone in pretending to be a pizza delivery boy who will get the sorority sisters to open the door so they can all rush inside. As they are crouching behind hedges just outside the door, a woman, a friend of someone inside the sorority, comes strolling out and walks right past them, literally right past them. She had to see them as they were entirely exposed, but she continues on anyhow. My original thought was that maybe she was in on it, that would have made sense, but then someone mentions how glad they are she didn’t spot them. She would had to have been completely blind to have missed them.
- When the special forces team has been initially sent in, they are all briefed on the nature of the infection, yet when one of their number are bitten and the NSA agents go to put the bitten man down, the soldiers nearly shoot both agents instead of letting them do what’s necessary. Of course he turns and then bites another soldier, all because his comrades were too stupid to do exactly what they’d been warned would have to be done. This after assuring their superiors that they would do whatever they had to when the time came. They were perfectly aware that they needed to shoot their bitten companion yet choose not to anyway.
- When a couple of the special forces soldiers are making their way through a library, they come across a man seemingly reading a book The entire school has been turned into zombies and this person is just sitting there out in the open. It’s obvious he’s also a zombie, yet instead of putting a bullet in his head and continuing on, one of them insists that this person couldn’t be a zombie because, and I quote, “zombies don’t read.” He’s not fucking reading you moron, he’s a zombie and hasn’t realized you’re there yet. What happens? They get attacked by the zombies and nearly killed.
- The special forces soldiers, proving yet again how completely useless they are, and yes, I know most of these involve them, that’s just how brainless they were written, are unable to differentiate the difference between actual human voices and the radio, something most of us can do without having been trained as a living weapon.
- My absolute favorite bit though is at the end when our list of survivors has dwindled down to only the two NSA agents Ellis and Nightingale, and one soldier. They concoct this detailed plan while trapped inside of a storage room to send Ellis through a corridor that will lead him to another room adjacent to the one they are in so that he can release a vent that will allow them to escape. To facilitate this, Ellis is covered in zombie blood and sent on his way, the theory being that the zombies will smell him and think he is one of their own. He makes his way there unharmed and gets to the vent, a vent that was only held in place by two screws on the other side. That’s it, two fucking screws. I’m pretty sure they could have kicked that damn thing open and it would have gave way. There was no reason to send Ellis on a trip that took so long it nearly got both the last remaining soldier and Nightingale killed. Sure, it was more dramatic, but when I saw them go through all that just to unscrew two fucking screws I nearly wanted to punch my television.
It was all the dumb things like that constantly happening one right after another that made what was already a terrible film into something that was frustratingly difficult to watch. It seemed that every couple of minutes something that made little to no sense was going on, anything from people not seeming to notice things that were right in front of them to walking through crowds of attacking zombies and yet somehow not getting bitten.
Though House of the Dead 2 shares a connection with the first movie, it has almost nothing to do with the video game. It’s not like the first movie had a whole lot in common with the video game it was based on, but the sequel has nothing other than its connection to the first movie tying it to the original game. The police woman who was seemingly killed in the first movie when her legs were torn off comes back for the sequel. This time she appears as some kind of military commander in charge of the operation to control the zombie plague, now confined to a wheelchair after the loss of her legs. I’m pretty sure she was dead in the last film, but if Michael Myers can survive two shots through his eyes, I guess this chick can survive having both her legs hacked off and then being left for dead. Other than that there is a bit about the pair that survived the first movie being responsible for what’s happening. Those two things are the connecting threads that keep it linked to the first movie and therefore the game, but that’s it.
Despite everything in this film being an utter and absolute waste of time, the effects were still very well done. It’s the one thing that kept me from burning the DVD and then pissing all over the ashes, but just because I didn’t set the disc on fire doesn’t mean it’s worth watching. House of the Dead 2 is a horrendous flick that deserves to rot in some forgotten dustbin until all memory of it is destroyed.
The Undead Review
Directed By: Michael Hurst (Room 6, Pumpkinhead: Blood Fued)
Starring: Emmanuelle Vaugier (Far Cry, Saw 2), Ed Quinn (Navy Seals vs. Zombies, Werewolf: The Beast Among Us), Sticky Fingaz (Blade: The Series, Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood)
Written By: Mark A. Altman (Room 6, Dead and Deader), Michael Roesch (Alone in the Dark, Far Cry), and Peter Scheerer (Alone in the Dark, Far Cry)
Released By: Lions Gate Films and Mindfire Entertainment
Release Type: Straight to Video
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated R
Rotten Heads: One Head Out of Five