There are several actors in the horror genre that serve as A-list for fan boys like me. Sometimes that actor is the only reason why one chooses to shell out several bucks to buy the blu-ray or dvd, DEATH HOUSE is a rare instance where almost every single person who has ever played a popular horror villain shows up. I’m not sure how this happened, but it’s definitely the main attraction for this film as the story itself is difficult to follow and can be silly at times.
Two agents, with their own questionable backgrounds, Jae (Cody Longo) and Toria (Cortney Palm) are given a tour of “Death House,” a prison where the most sinister of killers are caged. The specialty that lies here, as presented by Dr. Fletcher (the one and only Dee Wallace), is that these prisoners are living in virtual realities that allows them to relive their crimes while actually just sitting in their cells. This technology is used to study the psychology behind killing. During the tour, the power goes out and the three find themselves running for their lives as the world’s most vicious killers are on the prowl.
Some of these killers are played by who is who of the horror. Kane Hodder gets the most screen time, but we also get Michael Berryman, Bill Moseley, Sid Haig, and Sean Whalen just to name a few of the familiar faces we come across. Many of the killers serve as allegories or biblical references, sometimes self referential. There’s even a chainsaw wielding killer named Leather Lace. The twist? Leather Lace is a girl! She even wears the flesh of her victims. The DEATH HOUSE credits lists Gunnar Hansen as the writer of the film and he even makes a small cameo in one scene.
Aside from a scene involving a group of skinless prisoners, there’s not much to root for in this film. There’s a lot of exposition behind supporting characters that feels irrelevant when the focus here should be on giving fans tons of fun kills since it has such a great cast. Horror fans will obviously flock to this flick due to the cast, but might be let down when they see it really is a just scene after scene of our favorite faces, not doing much.
The two leads work with what they’re given, but their stories aren’t all that interesting. It probably wasn’t a coincidence that they’re both really attractive to give us eye candy and distract from the lack of substance. Luckily, we’re also treated some of the best horror actresses out there, such as Barbara Crampton (who has made a bit of a comeback over the last few years) and Felissa Rose. Rose is given one scene, unfortunately, and under utilized as she proved in Adam Green’s Victor Crowley that she’s a big personality and can steal a scene.
Watch DEATH HOUSE for the one of the best horror ensembles brought together, but don’t expect a cult classic.
DEATH HOUSE will be released on multiple VOD platforms November 6th and DVD December 11th.