25 May 2009 | DigitalRevenantX7
Better than the original.
A clandestine experiment at a university campus causes a zombie outbreak. 29 days later, a squad of Special Forces soldiers & government scientists are sent to the campus to find the original zombie in order to develop a vaccine from its blood. But their mission is jeopardized by a soldier's plans to sell the blood sample to a biotech firm, as well as the zombies, who are tougher than the team expected.
"House of the Dead 2" is the second of two film adaptations of the popular video game. The original HOUSE OF THE DEAD was lambasted by almost all reviewers as being one of the worst zombie films ever made. The only connection this film has with the original is the screenwriter, Mark A. Altman, a genre fan who co-wrote the script for the first film.
After viewing the first film, which was a third-rate spin off from a second-rate game, I set my expectations low before sitting to review this sequel. I was slightly impressed with the film.
Given the film industry's penchant for making films from older films, films made by other countries & videogames, "House of the Dead 2" works surprisingly well but is let down by a number of factors. First, the source material, in this case a video game, does not lend itself too readily for filmwork. The game is nothing more than a cheap attempt to rip-off the massively successful RESIDENT EVIL games, with the zombies being nothing more than targets for the player's guns (as well as the fact that the zombies act very un-zombie like, jumping, wielding weapons & not feeding on flesh). The original film, for all its faults, actually was pretty faithful to the game, with the exception of the setting. HOTD 2 again uses a different setting to that of the original but unless you count a college campus as a house, the title is a stretch at best.
Despite being derived from the game, the zombies here are a marked improvement over their game counterparts. They stick to the Romero mould, unlike the creatures in the first film, which were nothing more than undead thugs. The film tries a new idea – that of scientists trying to locate the original zombie in order to find a cure from its blood – which is perhaps its saving grace. That & the fact that the actors giving some good performances, as well as some clever characterizations. But while these elevate the film to a higher level than the original film, it still suffers from a poorly developed script. With the recent spate of comedies which derived their humour from film references, HOTD 2 throws in a few genre film references (one character mentions "Alone in the Dark"; the film is set 29 days after the experiment, after the British zombie film 28 DAYS LATER; the campus is named Cuesta Verde after the housing development in POLTERGEIST) which don't work too well.