Horror review: House of the Dead

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 16, 2003

One night a few years back, I was hanging with a few friends on Granville Mall, killing time before a concert, when we decided to saunter into a nearby arcade. After blowing a few bucks on the extreme road-race games, I found myself drawn to the House of the Dead console. The images of marauding zombies being blasted by gunfire gnawed at my dark side, and before long I was pumping loonie after loonie into the hungry machine. The computerized killing spree was highly addictive and a ton of fun, even if the zombies splattered me as much as I splattered them.

It was definitely a lot more entertaining than this tedious big-screen version of the game.

House of the Dead takes place during spring break, with your typical gaggle of smart-ass bimbos and bozos hell-bent on getting to a big rave on a remote island near Seattle (it’s B.C., actually). After missing their scheduled boat ride by 15 minutes, these dimwits desperately try to charter a vessel from a freaky, uncooperative dude named Salish (perennial weirdo Clint Howard, Ron’s bro). He tells them to get lost, but then the boat’s intense captain, Victor Kirk (Das Boot’s Jurgen Prochnow), agrees to get them to the island for a mere thousand clams. During the crossing, one of the guys gets seasick and vomits directly into the face of a skanky blond, which gives her a good reason to go below, wash her top, and display her tits—much to the delight of the freaky dude.

When they get to the rave site, it’s totally deserted, and not just because someone let Bif Naked be the deejay. Seems the place is teeming with bloodthirsty zombies who’ve wiped out almost all of the gyrating partiers and are primed to chomp on the latecomers. When the battle begins, it’s like an extended trailer for S.W.A.T., as the would-be ravers arm themselves with Capt. Kirk’s smuggled stash of high-powered weapons. But the novelty of seeing rampaging zombies get shot in the head wears off after 40 minutes or so.

And no amount of supposedly cool, Matrix-style slow-mo effects can change that.

I suggest you skip the House of the Dead movie, take the 10 bucks you’d have spent to see it in a theatre and blow it all on one trigger-happy session with the exhilarating game. But be careful. Recent studies show that prolonged exposure to violent video games can lead to actual violence. And I’d hate for anyone to get so wrapped up in exterminating the undead that they snap and go off on a real zombie massacre.

Certain politicians in Victoria wouldn’t stand a chance.

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