House of the Dead (1978)

MAY 23, 2007


I’m starting to remember why I rarely watch anthology movies (and further, why they are so rare): they suck! There’s a handful of good ones, sure, but most of the time, it’s usually one entry that anyone remembers and the rest of the stories are completely forgettable (i.e. the Zuni doll in Trilogy of Terror).

Well House of the Dead, much like Nightmares, was terrible all around. Nightmares didn’t even bother with a wraparound, but here the wraparound was almost the only story that lasted more than 10 minutes. We start off great, actually, with some people fucking and then the first line is “Sometimes I feel bad for your wife.” Wooo, affairs!! But then things quickly go way south, as soon as the guy pulls out and attempts to go back to said wife, and instead winds up at a mortuary.

Unsurprisingly, all of the stories are about the new “arrivals” at the mortuary, which is a fine setup for a anthology, even if the conclusion is immediately apparent once you realize all of the characters in the stories are, like our lead, total assholes. The first is a teacher who hates kids. She goes home, hears noises, freaks out a little bit, and then some kids with wax lumps for teeth attack her using the “Invert Solarize” filter from After Effects. Then there’s a guy who tortures women and videotapes it, thus inadvertently providing evidence to convict/hang him. The 4th story is about a guy who falls down an elevator shaft and nearly dies a couple times, until someone gives him some wine. Then he leaves. The end! We don’t even see his death; instead, the mortician guy just says “Oh he died later of liver problems.” I swear I didn’t quickly sum up any of these stories. That’s really all there is to them.

The 3rd story is the only one comprised of more than 2 or 3 scenes, with two criminologists (hilariously profiled, according to them, in Rolling Stone (!!!). I didn’t know they had time to rank the nation’s criminologists in between articles about Hinder and George Clooney) attempting to outwit each other, Prestige style. It’s not much better, but at least there’s a story that couldn’t be shown its entirety in between commercial breaks. And one of them calls the other “The Master of detection”, which brought to mind the appropriate "Resident Evil" dialogue.

That story also contains the only actor in the film I recognize: Bernard Fox. He is one of the nicer rich folks in Titanic. And like Titanic, the film is narrated by someone who wasn’t fucking THERE for half the stuff we see! At least Titanic wasn’t as laughable, since Rose was at least a character in the events, and maybe Jack took the time to tell her what he was doing while she was elsewhere. But how the fuck does the mortician know what happened in scenes where the only person in them is now dead? I was expecting perhaps he would turn out to be the devil (or maybe an alien, which would explain the movie’s sometime title Alien Zone), but no, he’s just a guy who rides shotgun in an ambulance. OK.

At the end, the main guy is shot by the husband of the girl he was nailing at the beginning, thus providing the only part of the movie where there was any sort of justified conclusion.

The best thing about this movie is that it was listed as 100 minutes but only ran about 76 (thus somewhat evening out the Alpha Incident running time snafu). Maybe there is a longer cut which adds things like ‘characterization’ or ‘plot setup’ to the stories (all of the stories seemingly begin 5 minutes in. For example, why not have a scene of the teacher in her class, yelling at the kids, rather than simply giving her a permanent scowl to let us know she’s a be-yotch?), but I certainly hope not. 24 more minutes of this movie is more than any man, woman, or kid with wax teeth should endure.

What say you?


  1. This was an awful piece of crap eh? But I don't regret watching it... Mostly for the horrible effects of the children. Classic!
    The woman looks so afraid, yet she forgets...THEY ARE KIDS. It's the same reason I poke fun at people who are afraid of cats. Cats are at most the size of a shoe box and I simply don't see the how someone can fear them.
    I sort of liked the two detectives story, but it would have been better if I hadn't guessed the ending in about 2-3 seconds.
    All in all though it was better that Trilogy of Terror. Ha, I guess that is not really saying much.
    (As a side note thanks for watching crap, it makes me feel better knowing I am not the only one.)

  2. The movie's actual title is "House of the Dead." Mill Creek is notorious for having typos, mislabeled discs, and discs that, from some reports, have ruined DVD players. While I haven't encountered a problem personally, I have the same film entitled "Alien Zone" AND "House of the Dead" in the 50 pack Nightmare Worlds collection. The odd part is this mislabeled film is all over the internet with people wondering what it has to do with aliens. It doesn't. However, with so much misinformation out there (e.g., even IMDB uses the "House of the Dead" plot for "Alien Zone"), I can't actually find what the real "Alien Zone" might be about or where I could find a copy.



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