Recently I (GVK) had the chance to speak with the writers behind the upcoming "House of the Dead 2: Dead Aim," which will debut this weekend on the Sci Fi Channel before hitting DVD on 3/21. Thanks to screenwriters Michael Roesch & Peter Scheerer ("Alone in the Dark") for taking the time out to answer my questions.
GVK: What is the background and setting of the film and how much continuity does it have with the events in the games as well as the original film?
Peter: "House of the Dead 2" is a completely different movie, which is not tied to the first movie. The only thing both movies have in common is the title – and zombies, of course.
Michael: The movie follows an AMS anti-zombie unit in their latest mission: They are sent to clear a college campus overrun by zombies. But this simple mission soon becomes hell on earth…
GVK: What drew you to horror and what have been some of your biggest
Michael: We’ve been horror fans since we were kids! I grew up with all kind of genre movies – science fiction, action, thriller – and I like them all. But horror was always my favorite genre!
Peter: So it was great that horror became so popular again, and we could start to work as writers and producers in the genre we love. Shooting a horror movie is so much fun.
GVK: Going into the film, how important was it to keep a sense of continuity with the original and how did you set out to achieve this?
Peter: After the first "House of the Dead" wasn’t very close to the game, we as writers as well as the producers shared the same thought for the sequel: It should be more true to the game.
Michael: Besides Ellie Cornell, who returns in the sequel, there are no ties to the first movie.
GVK: Which modern horror directors are you inspired by?
GVK: Where was the film shot and how long was the production?
Michael: The movie was shot in LA, and the shooting took four or five weeks.
Peter: But unfortunately we couldn’t visit the set, because we were out of the country for another project.
GVK: How is this movie going to differ from its predecessor, and how much gore will there be in comparison?
Peter: We wrote it as a completely different movie! Think Marines vs. zombies – that´s the direction the movie takes.
Michael: So you can imagine, there is plenty of blood and gore!
GVK: Video games are often known for their sequels but as yet, few films based on games have spawned sequels. To what do you attribute this?
Michael: Video game adaptations have the advantage that many people around the world know the title, the characters and the storyline. That makes it easier for the studio to market the movie, and that´s the reason why so many movies based on games get made.
Peter: But on the other hand all these fans know their favorite games so well, that they have very precise ideas how the movie should look. So often the film maker’s vision doesn’t match the fans’ vision – the fans are not satisfied. But "House of the Dead" is such a fantastic franchise, it deserved a sequel more true to the game.
GVK: Making movies based on video games does present some challenges due to fan expectations; What would you say have been your greatest obstacles in making the film and, as such, your greatest triumphs.
Peter: We knew that it was not easy to meet the fans’ expectations. So we wanted to get back to the roots of the "House of the Dead" franchise. The games are first person shooters, it is all about action.
Michael: So we wanted to focus on the AMS team, on the anti zombie unit. It is a straight action horror movie.
GVK: What did you include in your film that will set it apart from others in the genre?
Michael: The basic idea behind HOTD2 is that the AMS platoon is on the search for material of the very first zombie, the zombie that spread the whole zombie plague. If they could find the material, they could develop an antidote. The idea was to send a platoon to the very heart of the zombie plague, to a point of no return, and then let hell break loose.
Peter: Normally it is very hard to convince producers and studio execs. But fortunately everybody loved this idea. But even with everybody supporting the concept, it took over two years till the movie finally got made.
GVK: If you were given your wish to make any film you wanted, with no restrictions on budget or cast, what would you like to make, and who would you wish to cast in it?
Peter: For the moment we are very happy that we could shoot our movie "Brotherhood of Blood." It was an amazing feeling to be the director on your own set. The movie has not that big a budget, but many actors liked the story and the way it’s told.
Michael: Because they liked the script, we could get a great cast for "Brotherhood of Blood," even without a big budget: Sid Haig, Ken Foree and Victoria Pratt are in the movie.