Zombie Death House (1988)


Directed by: Nick Marino & John Saxon

Written by: David Frazer, William Selby & Kate Wittcomb


Dennis Cole .... Derek Keillor
John Saxon .... Colonel Gordon Burgess
Michael Pataki .... Franco Moretti
Ron O'Neal .... To
m Boyle
Howard George .... Head Guard Raker
Alex Courtney .... Warden Hagen
Tane McClure .... Tanya Karrington
Anthony Franciosa .... Vic Moretti
Rickey Pardon .... Hector Morales

Release Date: Direct-to-Video: December 1, 1988





A man named Derek Keillor (Dennis Cole) is framed for murder set up by his renegade federal named Vic Moretti (Anthony Franciosa) and is then sent to a execution prison. While being sent there a mad scientist named Colonel Gordon Burgess (John Saxon) invents an experimental drug to poison his prison inmates as they turn into powerful zombies and Derek must battle these zombies and to find a way to escape the prison.


The flick has an impressive start with the lead character Derek Keller he returning to his hometown along with good flashback sequences on dead bodies at a war which adds some good touches to the story here. Plus there's some gunshooting scene's with criminals against mafia's as well as nice stunt driving on a car crashing.
Plus there's some sleazy moments with a blonde talking to a mobster named Vic Moretti and grabbing his crotch acting flirtatious in which adds some good cheesy flavour to the story since we often spot situations like this.
There's a situation with Franco massaging a blonde in a bathtub talking to her which flows well but however he pushes her head in the water and she struggles as this looked very phony to watch and not intense like it was supposed to have been.
A nice setting with Derek in court taking place months later when is told by the judge that he is sentenced to a death house prison in which this looked a bit cheesy to spot but yet fun to watch as well.
There's some interesting discussions when Derek is sent to the prison with the other prisoners along with some nasty moments on the head guard named Raker showing some good dysfunctional moments. Alot of this was done at a good pace here. Plus good shots with the prisoners talking towards Derek in their cells towards him as this had a nice dark touch to all this making it creepy and having a sinking feeling that some terror will unravel later on.
Nice shots on some foosteps on what looks like to be a warden and then holding down a prisoner sticking a needle in his back which looked truly painful to watch. Plus we spot good reactions to all of this which also leaves an impression that he's not human anymore. This was another nice mysterious situation in the film.
We spot a moment with people at a prison singing Christmas carols in a cathedral type of room as well as the minister having his nose bleeding and it dropping into some sort of a drink which looked perfectly gross. The situations we spot here looked pretty corny but yet good mysterious moments that something here is wrong as we spot other people's noses bleeding too. Also we spot a dysfuntional situation with a wife Mary Hagen arguing towards her husband Warden about nearly leaving him with their daughter there in which needed a bit more convincing as it seemed a little hokey to spot this.
Nice dark setting when a prisoner is sent to a the electric chair in which we spot his face bloodied and mangled along with him acting powerful getting out of his chair plus some great shocking situations as well as spotting some good death scene's here that finally shows the horror in this flick which made it look fairly entertaining.
There's also good shots on the prisoners stomping towards the the army of guards as well as their interactions which seemed powerful to watch as well as Raker driving his vehicle towards them with some shocking results on a zombie attacking him and what he does to him as this looked well done as well.
Nice situation in a restaurant with Vic hosting his guests as well as having a whiny blonde next to him as there's good cheesy timing with this since we always have a mobster having these types with him due to his greed and wealth.
Some great vengeful moments with certain prisoners managing to escape and one of them kills a warden for revenge as there's good timing with this along with their one liners too.
There's some disturbing moments with Vic terrorising the Hagen family as this looked impressive and strong to watch as well as the kids being upset by this.
A nice dream sequence involving the character Tanya Karrington standing up looking lustful and then later on having her head turned and then lashing out revealing something grotesque about her which is a nice traditional moment in a horror flick which works every time. However the makers on this one was trying to once shock the viewers and it doesn't work that greatly I must say.
There's a shot on Mary next to some bars and a group of zombies grabbing at her which was supposed to make you jump and looked terrorising but this moment fails big time.
There's some dry humor when a kid spots some twinkies and is about to grab one but a zombie slams down an axe telling him off on trying to snatch one which seems to make the terrorising moments that is happening there a little upfliting.
Plus some good shots on cannibalisim while someone tries to sneak by them without getting caught which was a nice add on to the flick as the scenery looked very dark.
There's even a good suspenseful moment when the survivors try to sneak by a hallway with arms trying to grab out in a jail cell as this keeps you peeled to the set wondering if they will get by or not as the excitement here is at a high pace.
There's good shots and fighting sequences between Derek and Vic in which adds some nice action to the story and wondering who will win here. All of this looked fairly well focused between the two of them.
Also great scenery with them running by a tunnel but are being terrorised by zombies as well as a lieutenant too. However the chasing scene's and struggling to get out is a bit overly long.
Bottom line is at first the film looked like a Miami Vice ripoff with the action and gunfighting used in it and then during the middle of the film it has hokey black comedy used in it and suddenly it becomes a horror film with zombies in it but the zombie's aren't too convincing at all. All of this is very confusing. The film may look like it would be interesting to watch at first but it gets very tiresome and bland

The acting is at an average pace but not too terrific. However some seem to carry their weight. Dennis Cole (Derek Keillor) seemed to do okay playing a tough as nails war veteran showing a good serious no nonsense type of attitude. Also does well with his aggressions along with good blocking whenever he had to do a struggle or situations like that. He wasn't overly great but can do the job.
John Saxon (Colonel Gordon Burgess) portrayed a different type of character than he normally has since he often plays a good guy but this time plays a bad dude. He wasn't too bad by doing this and still shows a good gruffness to his speaking as well as getting firm with his commandments when needed to. Also does well using a weapon to kill off zombie's and getting into this a good deal.
Michael Pataki (Franco Moretti) was quite the ham in his performance as the gay type of bad ass prisoner showing a good macho attitude as well as coming off with a good tough charming behavior too. Plus does a great job when he acts demanding or showing a nice upsetting behavior when something happens in a scene and making this really come to life. He also does a nice job acting sick and being out of it in another scene which comes off well too. I found him to be the best out of the cast.
Ron O'Neal (Tom Boyle) adds some good spunk into his part especially when he's happy to see an old friend again as he really gets into this a great deal. He also does well whenever he had to act tough along with his tough speaking type of attitude in which he often does this and it comes off nicely every time. He didn't have a great deal of time in the film but still showed his part off regardless.
Howard George (Head Guard Raker) was another great supporting character in which he shows a perfect bad ass attitude as one of the guards showing a nice brutal personality and is a convincing bully too. Has a nice cold speaking with what he does. Has the burly looks which is another nice plus to his role making him look unpleasant. Plus does a nice job with his nervous speaking near the end of his performance showing a nice versatality here.
Alex Courtney (Warden Hagen) pulls off his part as a wimpy family man well but sometimes he's a little too over the top. He does show a good anxious attitude at times but sometimes it seems to fail. Does a good job by acting overwhelmed near the end of his performance and has a nice shocked expression during the end of his performance.
Tane McClure (Tanya Karrington) seemed to have the perfect lustful looks to her role plus shows a believeable sharp attitude too. She comes across as someone who is serious about her work and really studying this type of personality really well, Also really gets into her discussion as to why people are turning perfectly and drawing a real attention here.
Anthony Franciosa (Vic Moretti) lived to play the head mobster in which he shows off a perfect wicked charm trying to come across as soft spoken with an uplifting attitude and then getting aggressive and nasty which shows off marvelously. Does a nice job with his sarcasm along with acting believeably entertaining while hosting a dinner party showing off some nice spunk and wit with what he is saying. Does a good job acting obnoxious later on and getting forceful as well as demanding in which he really rolls with the punches here. Plus was good with his forceful blocking while doing a battle against someone.
Rickey Pardon (Hector Morales) had a nice supporting role as a sneering prisoner in which he really brings his energy to a hype with his vengeful attitude acting perfectly insane when he kills someone with his hissing voice and bringing this to life big time. He really drew attention onto the camera big time and deserves a good pat on the back for putting what he had into his role here.

A blonde takes off her top to go into a jacuzzi and is fully breasted.
Tane McClure is fully breasted at a berach during a hallucination sequence.

A Lazzada gang is brutally shot.
Blood gushes out of a black man's head during an execition event.
A prisoners hand is chopped off.
An army soldier gets a gruesome headlock and then his head is torn off.
A man is stabbed in the chest with a mine pic.

The music Chuck Cirino is very acceptable as it has a Miami Vice type score to it and he knows his stuff with it having the low action kkeyboard playing making it sound adventureous and full of action with the crime scene's. Also there's loud drum sounds banging along with sounds of metal dropping too. Sometimes there's high synthesizer playing that sounds a bit too cheesy.

There's a real irritating song by the rockabilly band Dead Kennedy's with their song "Chemical Warfare" for the closing credits which the vocalising sounds too fast to understand as well as rackety guitar playing. Not a good choice for the movie I must say.