Starring: Cortney Palm, Cody Longo, Dee Wallace, Kane Hodder, Barbara Crampton, Bill Moseley, Tony Todd, Michael Berryman, Vernon Wells, and many more
Director: B. Harrison Smith
Writer: Gunnar Hansen, B. Harrison Smith
Running time: 1hr 35 min.
Rated: R (for strong horror violence and gore throughout, language, sexual references and nudity)
Reviewed by Michael Juvinall – Horror Patch
Death House will be in theaters nationwide on March 9th & 16th!
In the months and years this film has been kicking around getting produced, a lot has been made of it in the media. I remember seeing the first posts about the film in late 2015 from various outlets. To say Death House has been highly anticipated would be an understatement. The filmmakers have put together one of the largest assortment of horror icons ever assembled in one film. In fact, the film has been labeled as the ‘Expendables’ of horror.
The script was written by the late horror icon Gunnar Hansen, who played Leatherface in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. After his passing, B. Harrison Smith polished up the script and took on the challenge of directing the film.
Death House has a very ambitious script and getting this kind of cast together was not a publicity stunt. I feel this movie needs the cast that was assembled to pull this kind of film off. It takes the decades of experience in the genre that many of the actors bring to their roles, otherwise, the film would not have been as effective.
In Death House, what we have are two FBI agents Boon (Courtney Palm) and Novak (Cody Longo) who are getting a special tour of the highly top-secret prison known as Death House. Inside this prison, secret unnatural tests are performed on inmates to change their nature from evil to good.
During their tour, the prison is attacked, and power is lost allowing the inmates to be set loose. Agents Boon and Novak must fight their way through waves of the vilest and monstrously evil criminals to ever walk the earth if they want to live. The facility is made up of nine levels with the worst of the worst inmates housed on level nine. Their only hope for survival is to find their way to level nine, the lowest level of the facility, where the Five Evils are housed. These unholy, supernatural beings may be the only key to their escape, but at what cost?
As I mentioned earlier, Death House has been a highly-anticipated horror movie for over two years now but does the film live up to all the hype? Well, yes and no, but mostly yes. What fans will mostly be talking about this film is the cast of horror actors within. It’s a big part of the film without being a distraction. Even if you’re not a huge horror fan you should recognize at least a few of the cast members. But for the hardened horror fan, it will be pure joy picking out all the amazing horror actors that you’ve seen before. Some are only brief cameos that you will need to pay close attention to notice them. The film will require multiple viewings to catch them all. I won’t name all of the horror stars in the film, that would take too long but with names like Adrienne Barbeau, Sid Haig, Tony Todd, Michael Berryman, Sean Whalen, Vernon Wells, Bill Moseley, Bill Oberst Jr., and many more, how could the film go wrong.
As far as the story itself, it’s a little convoluted. There are some plot holes and things that don’t make sense. The biggest plot hole for me is if it’s such a top-secret government prison that houses the worst of the worst criminals, then why does a simple power outage set the inmates free? Wouldn’t the government have fail-safes for something like that? You would think. There are also a lot of unanswered questions in the film which I won’t bring up here due to the fact it would give too much story away.
Suffice it to say, the film got more right than it did wrong and that’s a plus in my book. The acting in the film is nothing short of incredible. The leads Courtney Palm and Cody Longo pull off an admirable job in the film. They both were likable and believable in a film that could’ve gone off the rails. I also have to say scream queen legends Dee Wallace as Dr. Eileen Fletcher and Barbara Crampton as Dr. Karen Redmane were simply awesome and they showed why they are both such venerable genre actors. Of course, the highest respect goes to Kane Hodder as Sieg, the notorious serial killer. He really nailed it in this role. This was really his film to shine or sink in and he shined like you wouldn’t believe. I loved seeing him without a mask or makeup to show what he could do as an actor.
The overall look of the film might be a sore spot for some as it is a very dark film, lighting wise. It’s a muddy and gritty looking film most of the time. For me the lighting could’ve been better, but I can understand what the filmmakers were trying to go for. After all, there was no power in the prison and all the characters had to use for light were flashlights, but it was still hard to make out what was going on at times. It was a bit of a distraction but understandable.
I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the gore in the film. What can I say, the makeup effects are well worth the price of admission. There are ample amounts of gore and carnage in the film, every bit of what you would expect in a film such as this. There is some truly awesome bloodshed to be seen.
In the end, I really enjoyed Death House. The story was original which wasn’t a retread or remake of something else. It also gives the viewer something to think about in the end. You must use your brain in this film and there’s so much to take away or catch while you watch that you might want to see it more than once to get the whole picture. It really does live up to the hype which, few films ever do. Most will come for the cast, but they will stay for the story and the performances. Death House is a real event film that horror fans of every level will want to experience.
4 out of 5 Pentagrams!
Watch the trailer here: