I reviewed this movie last year for my "Film Negatives" page, and God almighty, was it ever negative. As far as video game movies go, probably the single worst video game movie I have ever seen in my life. Let's face it, that's saying a lot! But even titles like 'Double Dragon' are terrible movies you can still laugh at ironically (at least for some of us lighter-hearted critics). This was just a lot of noise, an insultingly stupid premise, and was edited in such a way that I wondered if the film was glitching on me.
We are introduced to a couple of college students, Simon (Tyron Leitso) and Greg (Will Sanderson), who meet up with three girls, Alicia (Ona Grauer), Karma (Enuka Okuma) and Cynthia (Sonya Salomaa), with plans to travel to an island known as Isla del Morte to attend a rave, which is already going on. The students try to get a ride over to the island, but a boat captain named Kirk (Jürgen Prochnow) and his first mate, Salish (Clint Howard) refuse to take them, claiming that its cursed. So I guess all the other ravers happened to get sceptical captains? Anyway, eventually one of them gives Kirk (Captain Kirk... it's trying to be a joke, but no one is laughing) $1,000 cash, straight from his wallet, and that's enough to do the trick.
Upon arrival to the island, however, they find that most of the ravers have been killed by zombies. Without going into too much detail, a police officer named Casper (Ellie Cornell) joins in for some firepower, and we pretty much get an endless, mindless, rock and roll, slow-mo abusing, balls to the wall action movie, edited with second-long clips from the 'House of the Dead' arcade game that its based off. Yes, there are transitional scenes that just crowbar in seemingly subliminal clips from the game. Now that's some Sega advertising! (there's also a gigantic Sega banner at the rave for whatever reason, but there you go, shameless promotion for a damn-near obsolete company in 2003)
I suppose this movie was made for those die hard fans of the long-lived arcade game. But I can't help but wonder why. For starters, this was right around the time the zombie obsession was starting to make a big comeback, and 'Resident Evil' helped to trigger that one year earlier. If you ask me, the writers just looked at 'Resident Evil' and said "let's make ours look more like a video game". With that said, there is really nothing more to the 'House of the Dead' game than running around, killing zombies and other monsters. Now, let this movie just stand as proof that if you follow that simplicity to a certain degree, your movie ends up being a mindless, unnecessary mess. Once again, 'Mortal Kombat' probably has the best balance to it as an example of something that does it well. There is very little redeemable about this movie. If anything, maybe some neat action shots, and the music can be pretty rockin'.
After saying all this though, don't take my word for the overall bad quality of this train wreck. IMDb has it listed all the way at #8 for its 250 worst movies of all time, its Rotten Tomato rating is a critical 3% vs an audience 10%, and Metacritic has it at a mere 15%. The film might be enjoyable if, and only if, you have a super bad day, and just wanna watch a bunch violence set to rave and/or metal music, with a few girls who don't offer up anything but eye candy. It's definitely a dude porn movie, but for that point in time in a dude's life called puberty, when watching this stuff is still just cool and fun, without thinking much about it.
At the end of the day, this one is a mere throwaway movie with next to no redeeming qualities at all. Even for a movie that was released 17 years ago, Clint Howard is still the most famous name in it. The other players have been in other things, and might be recognizable, but there were no names to help fuel this movie and get butts into seats. Luckily, everyone was clever enough to see this for the disaster is was bound to be, and it bombed super hard at the box office. People saw this little independent film called 'Kill Bill' instead, that weekend, and were all the better for it.