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Director: George A. Romero
Tagline: They Won't Stay Dead
Review: A little strangely perhaps, I am going to talk about House of the Dead in this classic films review, but hopefully you will begin to understand. In the world of zombie films there are generally a lot more turkeys than true treasures and people will general seek out the gold and leave the cack… And so came the challenge of reviewing House of the Dead, every source that I had either friend or film critic said it was rubbish and although I sat down and tried to be objective when reviewing it, I knew that every court in the land had found Uwe Bolls farce guilty and this may have swayed me slightly, but I hope I still fought for and created an accurate and honest write up.
So it come to NOTLD, the Classic, the first of the genre in the way that we like it, and so it comes to sit down and re-watch the Lord of Zombie Cinema and suddenly I have the same problem, I love this film and yet I must review it…
As soon as the shaky titles rolled, the lightening flashes and Bill Hinzman starts his staggering… They're coming to get you Barbara… I was sold, again. I knew inevitably I could nothing but fall in love all over again. The score, the lack of big sets and hero characters, the shadowed and ominous nature of the small farm house that becomes the characters protector for the film… It feels like a film from a much earlier time… Yes, it is dated but being the first flesh-eaters film, this production is the father and mother of this genre, increasing exponentially the sense that this film is a milestone of zombie cinema and although it has been copied it has never and probably will never be equalled.
Zombie Quality: ***
Difficult to tell about the subtleties of the zommers with this being a black and white film, but there is latex, shading, hospital gowns and naked butts, however the black and white footage gives the ghouls a uniformity missing from many of its imitators and the ghouls match the fear created by any others in this genre of ours.
Zombie Behaviour: ***
They sway, move slowly and attack, they act as zombies should act, so what if they fear fire and a couple of them use table legs and rocks to try and access to the ‘food' contained within the farmhouse, perhaps most importantly these zombies are useless alone and yet in groups are deadly.
Zombie Threat: **
A burning sofa and a tyre iron are what you need to deal with these zombies, the leads killing spree seems to peter of when he gets a gun and a group of good ole boys with papas shotgun is the main enemy for these undead, but that is not the point. The films numerous narratives, radio bulletins and TV broadcasts fill you with a sense of ‘What is Going on!' that only increase during the film. The threat of the Living Dead is one aspect of the threat but watching this film, humankind is definitely the other!
Gore Content: **
Tyre irons to the face, bullet holes and chocolate syrup for blood, not too much of the proper gore we have come to know and love, but enough to make you know that you don't want them to get you… This film I also believe contains the first celluloid flesh eating scenes… Subtle but effective.
Overall Quality: *****
We could talk about the cutting edge nature of the film, an afro-carribean lead, the perpetuation of the hysterical damsel in distress with Barbara and the socially segregated house with those in the cellar and those who live above ground, but I won't. This is a zombie film, not on such a scale as Dawn of the Dead, not played for laugh like Shaun of the Dead and well thought out unlike Zombie Lake, but the atmosphere and the normal nature of the characters, no cops or ex-marines, just average and scared Joes like you and me. This is the best and oldest of the flesheating zombie films in my opinion and if you haven't seen it you should, the ending is possibly the greatest in horror cinema history and although ruined by Children of the living Dead, has never been bettered.
To sum up this film in one sentence, I will let American Wrestling Legend Ric Flair do the talking… “Space Mountain may be the oldest ride in the park, but it still has the biggest queues…” It will make sense when you watch it, believe me.