Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...
What a pleasure. Reviews this morning from Elaine in Rotterdam, Cbabbitt in LA, and of course, the one and only Vern. Good reading all the way around, but I don’t think anyone turns a phrase the way our buddy Vern does, and certainly no one else stepped up to battle such a potentially deadly foe as HOUSE OF THE DEAD 2. I’m impressed at Vern’s moxie. Let’s see how well he held up:
I know you guys follow Dr. Uwe Boll around all the time so you're interested in all his movies and their mysterious sequels. I know alot of people like to talk shit, but I will say this for Dr. Boll. The medical profession is a noble one. If he healed somebody some time in the past that is to be commended. If he is one of those pervy doctors that drugs ladies and feels them up or something like that, I'm against that. And if he makes bad movies like everybody says, I'm not gonna defend that either. George Miller M.D. heals people, that didn't stop him from making MAD fucking MAX. So it's been established that you can be a doctor and still direct great movies. Anyway that's not important because this is not by Dr. Boll, but it's a sequel to his movie HOUSE OF THE DEAD, I guess. I never saw any of his movies or played video games so I am uniquely unqualified for this review.
Maybe it's better than the first one but who gives a shit. Basically what this is is another shitty movie that you will flip past on the Sci-Fi Channel. For something like that it's surprisingly watchable if you're being charitable. But if you remember it two days later you must've had a boring two days. Of course I said the same thing about WEDDING CRASHERS and people still love that movie so far so maybe this will be a runaway hit.
The movie starts out like a moronic 1980s fraternity comedy, with a bunch of annoying non-actors running around with squirt guns stealing panties. This is a way to get some tits into the movie before the plot begins. Now in case there's anybody out there who is too young to know, the 1980s were a dark time for American culture. I don't care if you're nostalgic for the days of Webster and Rubik's cube and Deaf Leopard or whatever stupid shit you remember liking when you were a kid. That's no excuse. There is no reason to bring back the 1980s. I don't care if have fond memories of jerking off to fraternity movies when you were a kid. We as a society should move on and progress and learn from our mistakes. There are all kinds of better things for you to jerk off to in 2006. Like that movie PIRATES, I heard that was pretty good.
In a science lab on the same college campus, Sid Haig is a mad scientist who runs over one of the girls we just saw topless and injects her, thinking it's going to bring her back to life. As you can see they put alot of thought and innovation into the method of zombie-making. An injection! Poor Sid Haig has to deliver some horrible dialogue that he can't pull off, where he works in the phrase "Alone in the dark" which I think is a secret code word for Uwe Boll fans but I'm not sure what it means.
The girl of course turns into a naked zombie and kills Mr. Haig so that he can do one short zombie scene and be done with the movie. Good for him but it sucks for me since I only watched the movie because his name was on the box. You see, for all the movies Sid Haig has been in, there's just not enough of him, and I always want more. I liked him as the demented pinhead in SPIDER BABY and what was he, a russian thug in COFFY? But aside from his great performances in THE HOUSE OF ONE THOUSAND CORPSES and THE DEVIL'S REJECTS he mostly has dinky little roles. You know how I know he's the man? He's in POINT BLANK. Seriously, check the scene where Lee Marvin first tries to sneak into the hotel. Sid Haig is one of the security guys in the lobby. And his role is only slightly bigger in HOUSE OF THE DEAD 2.
Then they introduce the two straight-to-video stars, some dude and some lady. Check IMDb for details. They don't have alot of presence and don't seem as tough or as smart as they are obviously supposed to be. They are agents for a zombie fighting government agency called AMS, maybe it is the American Medical Society, I don't know. The movie immediately turns into amateur hour ALIENS, they go pick up the platoon of hyper-macho soldiers they're gonna work with and there's tension between the two groups. The male AMS complains that the soldiers will get them killed (in fact, only these two will survive and the entire platoon of soldiers will be killed. Spoiler.)
So then the rest of the movie is them going into the campus, shooting a bunch of zombies and trying to get a blood sample of a "first generation" zombie. But sometimes they call them "hypersapiens" instead of zombies, which shows that this is all scientifically plausible I guess. Also making up a dumb new name for zombies is about the only new thing they try to do with them. Everything else is old hat.
I shouldn't be too hard on the movie because on the DTV scale this is actually not that low. There were a handful of mildly amusing jokes and gimmicks, which you can't say for alot of shit involving giant octopi and snakes and crap. There's a pretty good gross-out scene, copied from MIMIC I think, where the male lead pulls intestines out of a zombie's stomach and rubs them all over himself so that the zombies will think he's one of them. And the overly-macho-soldier-who-you-can't-trust starts taking pictures of himself posing in wacky poses with the dead zombies, which is a surprisingly true to life touch in an otherwise phoney movie.
But I gotta say, I'm so sick of this kind of shit. Yes, we know zombies are cool. Yes, we know ALIENS was cool. But just having zombies and going through the motions isn't enough, just like putting on a cape doesn't make you Dracula. Dressing up your friends in camouflage and splattering blood on shit is something you should keep private. I don't mind if you do it in the privacy of your own home, just don't rub my face in it. This is yet another zombie movie without the substance, human drama or clever zombie gags of a Romero movie or the humor of RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (though I think they're trying for that with little references to 28 DAYS LATER and POLTERGEIST).The gore isn't as well executed as a Fulci zombie movie. The action isn't as slick as the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake. So what's the point in going over this shit for the ten thousandth time if you can only do it okay? Ever heard of STRIVING FOR EXCELLENCE?
Forget about the zombie issue. I got a commandment for all future DTV filmatists. Don't make a movie about military tough guys if you don't know how to make your rookie cast seem like authentic military tough guys. This is a common mistake but this one takes bad macho dialogue to a new level. Let me give you two actual examples from the movie.
1. "Are you an asshole all the time, Bart? Or do you take Sundays off for good behavior?"
WHAT WAS THAT? This is not a charade. If you had left it at "do you take Sundays off?" you would've been fine. Not good, but passable. I wouldn't have noticed. But then you start mixing two separate ideas there. Do you want to go with a "taking Sundays off" thing or do you want to go with "time off for good behavior"? You can't combine the two, it doesn't make any god damn sense. Come on man.
In the underrated S. Seagal picture FIRE DOWN BELOW there's a scene where Seagal's character is caught trespassing and he explains himself by saying, "Just out for a Sunday stroll. Guess it's not Sunday." See, that doesn't make any sense, but it's consistent. He sticks with the Sunday stroll idea and then he tweaks it. But he couldn't say, "Just out for a Sunday stroll, but I guess there's no church." He stays on one thought.
Here's a worse one:
2: "Fuck em. If it turns into a shit hit the fan situation they'll be hiding behind our pantyhose just like all the rest of those fuckin science types."
WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING? You're trying to talk tough and you throw in this non sequitur where we have to picture you wearing pantyhose? How exactly are they gonna be hiding behind your pantyhose? I don't even get this one man. I mean how hard would it be to communicate this same idea WITHOUT mentioning that you wear pantyhose?
Maybe horrible dialogue works in a Troma movie or a SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-A-RAMA type deal. But they abandon that goofball tone after the panty raid scene and they try to take it seriously. It even ends with an ominous mayhem-has-spread-across-the-city ending just like Fulci's ZOMBIE.
Come to think of it, unconvincing tough talk is probaly the very worst thing to put in any movie. How many times do we have to watch some model turned actress try to sell a line about firing in "short, controlled bursts"? It's just embarrassing for everybody involved, including us poor bastards that end up watching it. If unconvincing tough talk was removed from all DTV movies I think there would be a 400% higher chance of getting all the way through them.
The only guy in the movie that's at all convincing about being tough is a gentleman by the name of Stick E. Fingaz. If you know me and you know Mr. Fingaz is in the movie you can probaly figure out why I didn't turn it off as soon as Sid Haig died. Fingaz is the guy who's gonna play Blade in the upcoming TV series, so I gotta do a little scouting. I can't imagine anybody replacing Wesley Snipes and getting away with it (no, talkbackers, not even Michael Jai White, who by the way is replacing him in UNDISPUTED 2). But I'm gonna give Fingaz a shot on this TV show just because I never thought you could do a TV show spinoff of OUT OF SIGHT but I ended up really liking Carla Gugino in the KAREN SISCO show. So who knows.
Fingaz seems okay, but there's one thing about him in this movie that really got me worried. The dude looks short. I don't care how good a Blade you are, how much you don't have to ice skate uphill, if all the vampires are towering over you you're not gonna look tough. I did a little research though and if you can believe IMDb, Snipes is only a quarter inch taller than Fingaz. So I'll try to have faith and give the guy a chance. But don't blow it, shrimp.
By the way, I should mention that there is not a single house in this movie. I felt pretty ripped off.
Here's the verdict. HOUSE OF THE DEAD 2: not total shit, but you have better things to do anyway. I'll give you a list if you need one.