(Boll and Hearst universe)
The film follows a group of college students who attend an island rave party, only to discover that it is infested with zombies. As they fight for survival, the students uncover the island's dark past.
House of the Dead was panned by critics for its story, acting, cinematography, and unfaithfulness to the source material. It is often regarded as one of the worst video game film adaptations of all time. The film was also a box office bomb, grossing $13.8 million against a budget of $12 million.
A sequel directed by Michael Hurst, House of the Dead 2, was released in 2005 without Boll's involvement.
College students Simon and Greg book a boat trip to an island rave party at Isla del Morte, an island located off the coast of Seattle, Washington. Joining them are Simon's crush Alicia, Karma (who has a crush on Simon), and Greg's girlfriend Cynthia. They discover that their boat has already left for the island; Simon pays Captain Victor Kirk (Jürgen Prochnow) and his first mate Salish (Clint Howard) to transport them. Police officer Jordan Casper (Ellie Cornell), who is aware that Kirk is a smuggler, fails to stop the group from leaving.
The group arrive to find the island party site deserted and dilapidated. Alicia, Karma, and Simon search for other people and leave Cynthia and Greg behind. The two make out in a tent, but Greg leaves to urinate. Left alone, Cynthia is killed by a group of zombies. Meanwhile, the others find an old house. Inside, they find Alicia's friend Rudy, rave dancer Liberty, and Hugh, who tell them zombies attacked the rave, killing everyone. The six go back to the rave site to get the others. Meanwhile, Salish is killed while walking through the forest.
Everyone else meets up at the rave site. A now-mutated Cynthia emerges from a tree and kills Hugh but is shot by Casper. The group develop a plan to leave the island using Kirk's boat, but find it overrun by zombies. Casper and Greg leave the group to go find help, but Greg is killed.
As the group tries to formulate another plan, Kirk reveals the island's past: Isla del Morte was the home of Castillo Sermano, a Spanish priest from the 15th century who was banished by the Catholic Church for conducting evil experiments; one of said experiments was an immortality serum, which he injected himself with before he created the first zombie.
Kirk provides the group with weapons, and together they return to the house. Liberty and Casper are killed when the group fights through a horde to get inside.
Kirk hears Salish whistling outside, and discovers that he is a zombie. Kirk commits suicide by blowing himself up, opening the front of the house. The remaining four group members lock themselves in a lab, but the zombies break in. Karma, Alicia, and Rudy escape through a hatch in the floor while Simon shoots a barrel of gun powder, blowing up the house, the zombies, and himself. Karma is killed by zombies in the underground tunnels, but Rudy and Alicia escape.
A man wearing Greg's face as a mask helps Rudy and Alicia get out of the tunnels. The man reveals himself to be Castillo. He engages with Alicia in a sword duel and stabs her in the heart. Rudy decapitates Castillo, believing that the fight is over, only to be strangled by Castillo's headless body. Alicia crushes the Castillo's head under her feet while saying "Game over, fucker", before dying.
Later, Rudy and Alicia are seen being rescued by a team of federal agents. Rudy reveals that his last name is Curien. The ending narration reveals that Rudy gave Alicia the mutated blood and that is why she is alive, thinking to himself, "God, ain't love a bitch?"
- Rudolph "Rudy" Curien (Jonathan Cherry), the male protagonist who is on the island when the zombies attack.
- Alicia (Ona Grauer), the female protagonist and Rudy's ex-girlfriend.
- Karma (Enuka Okuma), Alicia's close friend, who has a crush on Simon.
- Simon Cruise (Tyron Leitso), friend of Alicia.
- Greg (Will Sanderson), Cynthia's boyfriend.
- Captain Victor Kirk (Jürgen Prochnow), ex-navy and a smuggler who helps Alicia's friends to get to the island.
- Salish (Clint Howard), is Kirk's first mate who always dresses in a yellow fisherman's coat and hat.
- Jordan Casper (Ellie Cornell), Kirk's nemesis. She dies when she loses her legs and bleeds to death.
- Hugh (Michael Eklund), a nerd who records the zombie attack on the rave on his camcorder.
- Liberty (Kira Clavell), an Asian-American rave-girl.
- Castillo Sermano (David Palffy), the creator of the zombies and the main antagonist of the film.
- Cynthia (Sonya Salomaa), Greg's girlfriend.
- Mark (Michael Melendez), a Puerto Rican pothead.
- Johanna (Erica Durance), a party girl who attends the island rave with her boyfriend.
Then-CEO of Sega of America Peter Moore and then-president of Wow Entertainment Rikiya Nakagawa make cameo appearances as zombies.
DreamWorks bought the rights to The House of the Dead from Sega in 1998. The project was to be the directorial debut of Jesse Dylan, the son of singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. The story, penned by Dylan and writer Mark Verheiden, took place in a small college town where zombies are "the hippest and most popular kids in school". After the deaths of their friends, a woman named Jenny and "a group of nerdy 'necro-warriors'" seek revenge. The project never materialized and DreamWorks lost the rights.
Production company Mindfire Entertainment bought the option from DreamWorks. They were inspired by Dan Kletzky, President of Entertainment Licensing Associates, to produce video game film adaptations. Producer and writer Mark Altman admired the House of the Dead series' "cinematic" nature and simple narrative, which allowed more creative freedom. The goal was to make a "scary" zombie movie with marquee value, using new elements in addition to some from the video games.
According to Altman, Sega was "really excited" by Mindfire's previous work and their approach to the source material, and arranged for Japanese representatives to meet the team and contribute ideas.
German filmmaker Uwe Boll was attached as director, with House of the Dead ultimately convincing him to make more video game film adaptations. He considered the film a prequel to the House of the Dead video game series because "it shows how Curien is developing into a bad guy".
Jürgen Prochnow, Will Sanderson, and Clint Howard were cast as Boll had known them for "a long time". Prochnow played Captain Victor Kirk as a homage to his role as the U-boat commander in Das Boot. Boll complimented Prochnow for "[playing] a scene 10 times perfect, always [being] on his marks". Howard had roles in Boll's previous films Backwoods and Heart of America, while Jonathan Cherry had acted in the then-recent film Final Destination 2.
Ellie Cornell, who plays Jordan Casper, was friends with Mark Altman. Boll remarked "She is so great, perfect timing, very disciplined and great with guns". Cornell, who had to be trained to perform stunts, liked her character: "She was tough, she was a fighter." The role of Cynthia was then-beginning actress Sonya Salomaa's first lead in a feature. She enjoyed becoming close friends with the other actors and stated that Boll "was definitely a man of very few words, but you certainly knew if he wasn't happy with a take!"
Filming in Vancouver commenced on May 8, 2002. The shoot was marred by rain, freezing water temperatures, and a burn injury Cherry sustained on the second day, which required the bridge scene (where his character hurts his hand) to be shot later in order to explain the bandage he had to wear. A bullet also smashed the middle of a camera lens; the team liked the shot and kept it in the film.
Reportedly, Sega planned to develop a light gun video game adaptation of the film. The Hollywood Reporter described it as separate from the then-upcoming The House of the Dead III, developed "in close cooperation with the filmmakers", and possibly using the voices and likenesses of the film's actors. The House of the Dead development team WOW Entertainment visited the island set to take photos for reference in development. The game was never released, though the film was still promoted in III's Xbox port and Japanese guidebook.
An official website, HouseoftheDeadMovie.com, was launched to promote the film. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) ordered Artisan Entertainment and the filmmakers to take it down due to the "extremely gory" stills.
House of the Dead was panned by critics. On Metacritic, the film holds a 15/100, meaning “overwhelming dislike”. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 3% based on 61 reviews, with an average rating of 2.55/10. The site's consensus reads, "A grungy, disjointed, mostly brainless mess of a film, House of the Dead is nonetheless loaded with unintentional laughs." As of October 31, 2020, the film ranks #71 among the site's worst rated films of all time.
IGN Movies, however, gave the film three out of five stars, citing it as "an unabashed B-movie that does an incredibly decent job with a limited budget, unknown cast, and routine storyline."
In 2009, Time Magazine listed the film on their list of top ten worst video game movies.
Despite House of the Dead being one of few Uwe Boll films that made a profit, it was nonetheless a box office bomb. It fared better with DVD sales and rentals.
A tie-in comic serving as a prequel to the film was written and illustrated by Eli 5 Stone and published by Artisan Comics Group.
A director's cut of the film was released on DVD on 9 September 2008. The new version "features new dialogue, alternative takes, pop up commentary and animation from the original video game."
- According to scriptwriter Mark Altman, the original script had numerous elements that were not featured in the movie due to budget and time constraints:
- Various creatures and boss characters were to be featured, such as a "tongue beast", flying creatures known as "Hanged Men" , and a spider-like creature derived from Casper's corpse (similar to the Hermit boss from the original House of the Dead game).
- Many plot elements were also scrapped, including Castillo's backstory.
- This film featured Erica Durance in one of her earliest roles before she became known for playing Lois Lane on Smallville.
- "「HOUSE OF THE DEAD - The Movie」撮影を開始。ワウ エンターテインメント 中川力也社長もゾンビで出演" (Japanese). GAME Watch (June 12, 2002). Archived from the original on June 28, 2013. Retrieved on July 27, 2020.
- Chris Petrikin (June 24th, 1998). "Jesse Dylan to direct ‘Dead’ at D’Works" (English). Variety. Archived from the original on April 2nd, 2020. “Dylan previously had optioned the rights to the game out of his own pocket and developed a narrative storyline with writer Mark Verheiden (“Time Cop,” “The Mask”), who will write the screenplay. Verheiden will receive $350,000 against $700,000 to pen the screenplay.of his influences.”
- McCaw, Derek (May 10, 2002). "Visiting The House Of The Dead" (English). Fanboy Planet. Retrieved on August 24, 2020.
- Simpson, MJ (November 2004). "Cult films and the people who make them: interview: Uwe Boll (2002)" (English).
- Sterling, Jim (July 5, 2007). "Exclusive interview: Uwe Boll, the devil himself?" (English). Destructoid. Retrieved on August 25, 2020.
- Brown, Phil (August 16, 2004). "Uwe Boll Interview" (English). Horror Asylum. Archived from the original on December 16, 2018. Retrieved on August 25, 2020.
- Therkelsen, Michael (November 2, 2014). "Interview: Ellie Cornell (English). Horror Society. Retrieved on September 1, 2020.
- Brown, Phil (April 18, 2006). "Sonya Salomaa Interview" (English). Horror Asylum. Archived from the original on August 27, 2020. Retrieved on August 25, 2020.
- Ahmed, Shahed (September 20, 2001). "New The House of the Dead game in development" (English). GameSpot. Archived from the original on September 1, 2020. Retrieved on September 1, 2020.
- Davies, Steven (August 27, 2003). "MPAA Kills House Of The Dead Site" (English). Horror Asylum. Archived from the original on August 27, 2020. Retrieved on August 25, 2020.
- "House of the Dead Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved on October 31, 2020.
- "House of the Dead (2003)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on October 31, 2020.
- "100 Worst Movies of All Time: The Most Rotten Films Ever". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on October 31, 2020.
- "House of the Dead (2003) - Top 10 Worst Video Game Movies". TIME. Archived from the original on October 12, 2011. Retrieved on November 1, 2020.