Chain Reaction aka
House Of Blood (2006) Germany
I know, I know, this is not a Bava movie nor is it about college students. To be honest, I just wanted a 'junk' horror film just to watch and turn off my brain for a bit. After just a couple of minutes the brain turned on full and I was scribbling notes like crazy... This is a German film, set in Washington state of all places (but filmed in Germany and Austria) and is an English speaking horror film almost - I said almost - in the same caliber of Cabin In The Woods. Yes, it almost compares with the excellent submission from the Whedonverse. I kid you not, I was glued to this movie, even with its flaws because damn - it had imagination, great special effects, an interesting story line and hell, it was just fun to watch. For 101 minutes you are transported to the wonderful world of the absurd with monsters that... well, let's get on with our tale.
Now of course there are flaws - and this movie was not well liked. Everywhere I looked for information and reviews there was a very low interest in this movie. I cannot possibly tell why. Now I am not a big fan of foreign films although they do seem to try harder - I recently tried one about evolving zombies in Germany (which shall remain nameless) because, although it was interesting and a very different kind of angle when it came to zombie lore it turned quickly pornographic and... uh, never mind. So with trepidation, I only watched this for the tag line: ''For the undead, there's no place like home'. Oooh zombie stuff! Hopefully better than the filth... never mind.
We start with a black crow. Just a simple bird. This bird falls dead from the sky, dislodging a rock, which rolls and flies onto a Washington mountain road, hits a car windshield... we see a man, Dr. Doug Madsen get out of bed, a long, old scar down one leg. He keeps a memorial booklet from his parent's funeral when he was a boy - it shows their pictures and their heads suddenly turn and become bloody - and we see them dead in a crashed car, the boy injured but alive. Interesting camera work. He is helped by a mysterious lady who gives him a crucifix. He thinks of her often, but in that dreamy kind of way you do when you're not sure what was dream and what was real.
As he's driving to work along the same Washington mountain road (Washington state is truly a beautiful place, but it was very obvious this wasn't it) we get the same events - bird, rock, windshield, he swerves in the road - in front of a prison bus which crashes on its side. After a particularly violent coup by the surviving inmates (four) they unshackle themselves and grab the doc who isn't badly injured since one of them was shot and they need his help. Okay, small points of whoopsy I have to point out because hey, that's what I do: Although the prisoners are supposed to be transferring from the Seattle Penitentiary, the jumpsuits simply say County Jail. Okay, there is no Seattle Penitentiary, but there is a King County Jail in downtown Seattle.
|The incredible, magical, indestructible guard uniforms.|
|Alice and Dr. Madsen.|
The 'head' of the family speaks, full of thee and thou and thy, except in a kind of backward way. The whole family sounds like 18th century Yodas, 'Leave mine house must thee.' kind of thing. The convicts of course ignore them, since one is badly wounded and the doc must work on his arm quickly. It has to be amputated. He asks the girl, named Alice to help him. Since his medical bag was lost due to the convicts quick tempers, he's got to do it with primitive stuff they have around the house. It's done. The convicts then decide to wipe out the family. The doc and Alice kind of step aside. And the fun begins.
|Tastes like chicken...|
|Eat thee now must I.|
|Something familiar here...|
A crow falls, a rock rolls - scaring a doe which runs into the road, and is hit by a car. She swerves and stops in the street ON A STRAIGHTAWAY. A prison bus (yes, our doctor is on board) without slowing down mows her down and her car, then flips over. Sigh. Yes, we're gonna see this same movie again. Same tune, different words.
|I do TOO look like Anthony Hopkins...|
As they scope it out, one convict envisions how it will be - rape the girl, kill the men, do something... horrible with the kid. The doctor tells him how it will really be - all of them dying slowly and horribly. They laugh at him for keeping to his lie (he's even had a 'T' cut into his cheek as a warning for treason) and burst on in. The cabin is empty, clean as a whistle and they scope the place out. In a back room tied to the wall they find Alice and let her go. She again warns this particular batch to get out quick. They ignore her. One of the convicts is wounded (ah come on man) and the doc asks Alice to help him as she did before. Our Hannibal copy is getting suspicious that maybe they DO know each other but it's too late - they hear howling and monstrous shadows outside the windows. Wait a minute. The windows were boarded - oh hell, another continuity error. Shoot.
|Chain saw? Uh, I brought this with me...|
Then a crow falls dead. Oh God please no. Sure enough, although there is no rock, there's the two of them who run into the same mountain road and cause the wreck of a passing car. Comprehension finally strikes the doctor as he turns around in time to see the prison bus bearing down on him which hits him, the car and crashes. Sigh. He tells Alice he has to go but he'll wait for her. As she sobs over his body, an escaped convict comes up behind her and puts a bullet in the back of her head. Of course you know... that - means - war. She changes and... the movie ends. Phew. I don't know if I could have taken a third turn.
You know, if I had to be logical and not take movies at face value (or pick them apart even when I like them) I'd note that they should take a different route when transporting prisoners - unless it's a nifty way to cut down on inmate expenses, although it's hard on the security guards. Despite its faults (which seem to grow if I keep looking so I'm gonna stop) it was an inventive and different movie with interesting camera shots, great makeup and neato special effects but - next time guys? Show what you want to show ONCE. This is a movie, not a pop song.