Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Zombie Death House

Zombie Death House (State Prison, Death House) Directed By John Saxon, Starring Dennis Cole (1987).

Practically every film fan is aware of John Saxon's exhaustive career in mainstream work like Nightmare on Elm Street and Enter The Dragon but how many know about his sole directing credit with this action-sploitation schlock fest? If you look at his resume Saxon was basically a mainstream actor for 5 minutes and mainly delved in exploitation horror starting off in the 60's with Queen of Blood. He's consistently working in the trashy movie realm (The Glove, Black Christmas, Nightmare Beach) which is why I admire him so much. If anything he owes a lot to his sordid background, it propelled him into C-level mainstream Hollywood status. When I saw him in Cannibal Apocalypse, I thought what's this mainstream guy doing in an Italian genre film but little did I know that's his bread and butter.

With this Nintendo Power Glove now I'm really playing with power!

 I had no idea about this film until Skunkape mentioned that I must see it. I vaguely remember "Zombie" Death House being mentioned in Fangoria before I was aware of the film. The producers seemed to have tacked on that undead buzz word to drum up VHS bucks and it's basically a more fun version of Renny Harlin's weak-ass Prison. Anthony Franciosa plays Vic Moretti a slime ball maniac, who Dario Argento had a bitch of a time trying to control on the set of Tenebre. Here he plays a drug lord who murders his sexy blonde girlfriend by drowning her in the tub and then pins the crime on Derek Keillor (Dennis Cole).

I'm thinking of starting my own Brett Michaels style VH1 show called who wants my STD or Cole-sore

Dennis Cole, a beefy 70's TV actor who looks related to John Davidson of "Thats Incredible" and "Hollywood Squares", gets thrown in the slammer and is surrounded by an assortment of wacky inmates. Michael Pataki who you may remember from Grave of the Vampire or the voice of John K's uber patriotic nutjob George "liquor" American is here as Vic's brother Franco and he's super queer. He wears an open blousey half shirt and is pretty entertaining as usual. There are some elements of Pierre De Moro's extremely sleazy Hell Hole present, only instead of babes like Judy Landers we get overly homosexual tension, the kind you could cut with a fork. Still if you can get into the subtle cheesiness of this prison flick you'll be rewarded. The script is kind of all over the place but don't let the incoherencies frighten you away, because it's a fun time. You are required to have a high attention span though I'm not gonna lie.

Convicts get experimented on by an evil Gov. agent played by John Saxon, donning some whack-ass bifocals! He wants to create a "Bride Of The Monster Bela Lugosi" style race of atomic superman only with criminal records and rotting flesh. There warden's family spends one of the all time worst Christmas vacations ever once the prison goes under siege. I wonder if they were trying to emulate Alcatraz because many families in reality lived on the island and spent their holidays on the other side of the prison yard. There's one dude who looks like Skunkape's favorite actor Reb "Yor" Brown but it's not him. He ends up as the prison bitch and one officer even threatens to rape him, Yeasshhh! Thankfully nothing happens though.

Before you insert anything into my anal cavity just know that I'm an inferior Reb Brown

Derek Keillor is best bros with Superfly himself Ron O Neal (looking as bloated as ever). Every other character seems to have a hot trashy blonde bimbo girlfriend, is Saxon channeling Amir Shirvan--I doubt it, but yeah it's on that level of hilarity! During a deal gone sour, Derek intervenes when he shouldn't even bother and pisses off Moretti's crew.

The first test subject gets injected and whenever he screams it's too laughable to be effective. The dialogue is very over the top and silly, one Jamaican dude played by Earl Johnson goes "We Got No Bananas Here Man, Go take a walk Monkey Ass"! He ends up inflicting the most carnage once he gets infected by the zombie virus and pulls one officer's face through the bars so it crushes his skull. And that's after he was recently fried in the electric chair, I mean it just made him more aggressive!
Johnson is my favorite character in the film.

That Wascally Bushwick Bill up to his old tricks again!

If you're looking for zombie action you'll be excruciatingly bored or disappointed (they're no textbook "Zombies" they are more like controlled guinea pigs), but if they called it "Guinea Pig House" that would've been just stupid! However, if you like dumb action, terrible acting and movies where a corrupt system uses mind control on the weak and idiotic than check it out. It's on the level of a B-rate Cannon film. There's even gratuitous nudity thrown in (like a last minute wet dream with Tane Mcclure) who apparently was married to a guy in the soft rock band Journey and he wrote "Faithfully" about her. 

I'm just here to break up the gay sexual tension

Saxon's character justifies creating these prison zombies by saying "I'm a soldier and there's never been a war on American soil", these statements remind me of someone from the Bush Administration. Tane McClure as the sexy prison scientist has quite an interesting resume. She wrote the new wave disco song for The Terminator score with her band The Tryanglez (that spelling oh man!), was on Dr. 90219 (Sheeesh, take it easy on the botox will ya?) and acted in a lot of Skin-a-Max soft core. She was in Crawlspace, Death Spa and Assault of the Party Nerds 2. I wonder if she's proud of this film, I mean it's a toss up since there's so much junk in her career. If anything I'd like to read her autobiography.

I'm so happy about Xmas I could SHIT!

If you're thinking about turning it off toward the middle, don't dare until you see the Twinkie man! Also during the credits they play "Chemical Warfare" by The Dead Kennedys and I'm totally baffled as to how they pulled that off considering Jello Biafra goes ape shit anytime they use their songs. Make sure you stick it out toward the end or you'll miss out.



1 comment:

  1. Great review...such an awful movie but damn I couldn't take my eyes off it when I watched it. Now I guess we know why John Saxon only directed one movie in his long career.


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