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House of the Dead II: Dead Aim - Sony Pictures UK - DVD Print E-mail
User Rating: / 1
Written by Jay Creepy   
Saturday, 04 March 2017
Severed Cinema review of House of the Dead II: Dead Aim on DVD from Sony Pictures UK


AKA: La casa de los muerrtos 2, A casa dos Mortos 2, House of the Dead 2, El amanecer de los zombies, House of the Dead II, To spiti ton nekron 2, Holtak haza 2, House of the Dead II: All Guts, No Glory, cacciatori di zombie, Misusiuju namai 2, Dom smierci II: Smiertelny cel, House of the Dead.

Directed by: Michael Hurst
Written by: Peter Scheerer, Michael Roesch, Mark Altman
Produced by: Mark Altman, Chuck Speed, Peter Block, Mark Gottwald.
Cinematography by: Raymond Stella
Editing by: Joseph Gutowski
Special Effects by: Almost Human (comprising of over 20 individuals)
Music by: Joe Kraemer
Cast: Emmanuelle Vaugier, Kirk Jones, Ed Quinn, Sig Haig, James Parks, Victoria Pratt, Billy Brown, Steve Monroe, Nadine Velazquez, Ellie Cornell
Year: 2005
Color: Color
Language: English
Country: USA
Runtime: 1hr 31mins

Distribution: Sony Pictures UK/ Lionsgate

In celebration and a (possible) farewell salute to the end of the Resident Evil franchise, I thought I'd take a look at what could have been another powerhouse zombie series, had it been handled better. Resident Evil is, of course, known as one of the Big Daddy films which brought the zombie population into pop culture. Without it, and 28 Days Later, it could be argued that we wouldn't have The Walking Dead series, or Romero's wonderful Survival of the Dead (haha, snigger, giggle). 

House of the Dead, the arcade game, is simply Time Crisis with monsters! It's wonderful. My Horror Soulmate and I, years ago, spent sometimes up to an hour on the game, watched by a small crowd as we blasted the hell out of zombies and tiny unidentified creatures, to boss level nasties. We were damn good! It helped our image that we both sported long black leather coats at the time. Cool!

So a movie adaptation which even loosely followed the game would simply be a marvel. Not too complex, nothing but running around and taking the heads off an army of beasties. A throwback to the golden era of Italian gut munchers, really. Unfortunately, the first film was a disaster. I don't need to (or want to relive) the scene of the crime here. Hell, two years later, Doom got it done far better!!!

In 2005, along came a sequel to House of the Dead. It wasn't a masterpiece, it suffered from a lazy script, and was very tainted by its predecessor, but there was some fun to be found. It tried a lot harder and captured some of the old school zombie genre.

House of the Dead II: Dead Aim is a TV movie, birthed on ScyFy. Watching it again after many years, feels like it wasn't originally planned as a sequel (though there is a returning character). It is so distanced from the concept, but at the same time (towards the end) captures the idea better than the first (which isn't a hard task to do).

Opening with a gang of Delta House fat head frat boys in military gear, spraying water guns filled with beer all over topless girls during a home invasion doesn't bode well for the flick. In fact, it's so bone dry emotionless that I figure a lot of people would switch off after the first 5-minutes. Then, enter Sig Haig as Professor Curien (one of Sid's well paid 'blink and you'll miss me' cameo, almost top billing roles) who captures one of the girls and strips her, lays her out in his lab and injects her. Yep, he's trying to raise the dead. Yep, he has his own Patient Zero stored away in a padded cell in the middle of the University grounds. “I'm a failure.” he tells his Patient Zero. “Even now you keep me alone in the dark.” Ho ho, what a game boy stab that is. Aided by the fact that one of the deadly trio of writers also wrote both Alone in the Dark movies! Moments later, his throat is torn out. Dawn of the Dead: Remake style credits (not Johnny Cash but loud cheap electronic metal!) show the outbreak. Jocks are chewed on by cheerleaders, with panties shots, that sort of thing.

'29 days later' pops up on the screen. Wow, more in-jokes, eh? My sides cannot take any more! Sid makes his last appearance as a zombie chowing down on a chef. Then we're introduce to a government agency who specialises in outbreaks. Ellis, played flatly by Ed (Navy Seals Vs Zombies, Mistresses, Starship Troopers 2) Quinn and Alex, played with gusto by Emmanuelle (Saw II & IV, Rogue, CSI: NY) Vaugier are scientists/ soldiers who are forced to take along a special ops squad and infiltrate the University to collect a sample of Patient Zero's blood. The fact that the University outbreak has only just been discovered after so long escapes the script writer's notes (or the in-joke was plopped on afterwards. Either way... tossers!)

There's an attempt at building the characters -- don't bother, just go find the zombies, or the 'Hypersapiens' so named by our team. They don't have long because a missile strike will level the immediate area soon. Let's look at our hardcore military team: A scared fat bloke called O'Connor, a tough guy called Griffin, a Hispanic girl -- Rodriquez (haha, is that the Hispanic variation of the surname Smith??!!) played by Nadine (Snitch, Ride Along 2, Z-Nation, My Name is Earl) Velazquez, a sassy girl -- Henson, a slime smiley bastard called Bart portrayed to perfection by the busy James (Machete, Django Unchained, Red State, Death Proof, From Dusk til dawn 2) Parks, and the bullet chewing hard Sergeant Dalton (Kirk 'Sticky Fingaz' Jones of the Blade TV Series and bald-headed raw Hip Hop crew, Onyx) amongst others. Think Aliens without the acting credibility or allowance to character develop! Getting away from the fact that O'Connor would not be in any elite group at all, we swiftly move onwards...

My team have been to hell and back! Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq. We can handle it!” snarls Dalton to Ellis. “So when a six year old girl,” Ellis responds, “dressed in what is left of her Sunday best comes to take a bite out of your team.....?” He reckons the 'gung-ho' marine types will get them all killed. Thus they sneak around the campus grounds in the dark and take down their first zombie. Alex takes a sample. “4th generation.” no good. Then she notices the teeth are more canine and fierce. The walking dead are mutating. “That's not good.” states Ellis. A few more zombies drop by, one soldier is bitten. Due to his team's reluctance to kill him, another guy is nipped. They are both are put down properly.

Splitting into teams, the rest explore the dark University corridors and rooms. Much macho chit-chat and mugging expressions. “They're all dicks.” my Horror Soulmate shook her head. “They're all 'Look at my dick'... Even the women!” No one seems to get along in that squad. They all puff their feathers out and out shine each other too much that it gets boring! The amount of mistakes they all commit is simply ludicrous! Bart, meanwhile, gets himself a selfie shot with a nude zombie girl he's just shot, much to the revulsion of Henson and Rodriquez. They are rather happy when he's bitten by a mosquito whilst discussing how the infection is spreading to sealed up rooms. Bart reveals, as they figure out whether to kill him, that he and Dalton have a plan to steal the blood sample and take it to a large pharmaceutical company for millions of dollars. The girls can share the cash if they help him. Oooooh, plot thickening. Thanks writing team, Mark Altman, Michael Roesch and Peter Scheerer, you earned your wages.

As it continues on, O'Connor is shaking, Rodriquez is vomiting, Dalton is angry... fuck me! “If we're lucky, the zombie plague will end up as a footnote in history.” says Alex, as she finds a Stage 2 walker, closer to the source she needs. Soon more soldiers die, including Sergeant Dalton, then it's down to three survivors against the mass of decomposing cadavers. Finally getting to Patient Zero they then have to fight their way out. At the fifty minute mark, things do pick up rather well, using a smaller cast aids this film's chances. There's a great steal from The Walking Dead comics as well which made me smile.

Taking away the implausible plot holes, the sheer stupidity of the cast, and the unlikeable characters, the make-up and special effects are rather well done (should be due to the huge volume of folks working on it!). The action sequences are handled top-notch by the director, more so towards the finale. However, the story is weak, and, aside from James Parks and Emmanuelle Vaugier, no one else seems to give a damn and are vacant, thinking of their money at the end. The less said about Sig Haig, the better! This is the largest issue in House of the Dead 2. In The Walking Dead TV Series, you have well-constructed characters who you can actually feel, wherein the Fear the Walking Dead TV Series has a remarkable story to tell, but absolutely no one to give a toss about. Should I then use Peter and Roger from the original Dawn of the Dead in this? No, less predictably I can compare this film with Zombie Creeping Flesh and the SWAT Team. They were funny, they were interesting -- Dalton and his grunts are just lifeless carcasses.

The Sony Pictures UK DVD release has a commentary and a featurette, plus deleted scenes. I couldn't be bothered quite frankly. To sum up, House of the Dead II is worth a watch if it pops up late night if there's nothing else on the TV. Like I said, the action is exceptionally done for a film of this level. A predictable ending and terrible last frame effects doesn't spoil it much. This isn't as bad as you would be made to believe, but it's not jaw dropping either. Thus it vanquished any chance of a continuation of the series.






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 Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 16x9
 Region: PAL R2
 Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Stereo

- Commentary with Michael Hurst
 - Deleted Scenes
 - “Making a Bloody sequel” featurette


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