Adrienne Barbeau, barbara crampton, bill moseley, camille keaton, death house, debbie rochon, Dee Wallace, felissa rose, harrison smith, horror films, Kane Hodder, Michael Berryman, r.a.mihailoff, sid haig, tony Todd
When Gunnar Hansen of Texas Chain Saw Massacre fame wrote and pitched a who’s who of horror films pitted in a hellish place forming a macabre version of The Expendables, it would be a genre fans’ wet dream.
The very idea of Jason aka Kane Hodder sharing the same screen as Tony Todd (Candyman), and Bill Moseley (The Devil’s Rejects) along with the queens of horror, Dee Wallace and Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator) would leave them salivating at the prospect at what could be an Uber-scare factory.
What we do get is a lot of piss and wind in a lacklustre affair that never measures up to its promise.
Before I start lambasting this film though, I do want to focus on the positives.
The very premise of staging a prison break containing some of the most vicious criminals known to mankind housed in a state of the art vicinity, which placates to the criminals whims in virtual space whilst using real victims from the homeless and deprived smacks of genius. It projects a utopian world that humanity could easily travel down if there were no morals or guiding principles attached.
Kane Hodder delivers to a tee and never falters from his iconic presence in front of the camera as the lead antagonist Sieg as he steers those fallen from grace further down into the pit of the jail system – level nine, a place where the five evils preside in a nod to Dante’s Inferno.
Equally Dee Wallace proves once again that she can offer intelligence, vulnerability, and apathy in her character, Dr. Eileen Fletcher and is always a welcome presence on screen.
And full props to Director Harrison Smith who saw fit to carry out Hansen’s vision in his honour, gifting him also with an on-screen presence in holographic form as the father to one of the prison inmates, Leatherlace, which was a nice touch.
And lets not forget those delectable sultry tones from Adrienne Barbeau as the narrator of the movie…
Sorry. Where was I?
Ah yes, all these elements are enough to keep you engaged, at least for a while. Even the strange dark arts that are heavily present throughout adds a decent hook to an intriguing narrative, but those who delve into Death House may find it a struggle as the further down the rabbit hole we go, the more far-fetched and ridiculous the concept goes.
And that’s where it starts to lose me. It doesn’t help that our two lead protagonists, Agents Novak and Boon who are so two-dimensional that not even their strange deep and meaningful conversation about how they became Agents whilst casually sharing a unisex shower cubicle can generate even a twinkle of interest… well, maybe. Which is a shame, because you want to be vested in their journey, but you really don’t care.
This is clearly an attempt to ignite the passion that fans of horror through the 80’s and early 90’s by grouping some favourites of the genre together. Whilst the premise did provide a decent hook, the journey leaves you floundering and left adrift without much care to its conclusion.
A lost opportunity.
- Saul Muerte