DEATH HOUSE (1987) Reviews and overview



‘No one gets out… alive’

Death House – later retitled Zombie Death House – is a 1987 American crime-horror film directed by actor John Saxon (Queen of BloodCannibal ApocalypseA Nightmare on Elm Street) from a screenplay written by William Selby, David S. Freeman and Kate Wittcomb.

The movie stars Dennis Cole, Anthony Franciosa (Tenebrae; Curse of the Black Widow; Web of the Spider), Dino Paskas and John Saxon himself.



Derek Keelor (Dennis Cole) takes a job as a chauffeur for mob boss Vic Moretti (Anthony Franciosa). Derek gets it on with Moretti’s girlfriend, so the crime lord takes revenge by drowning his girlfriend in the bath and framing her lover for the crime. Derek is sentenced to death row.

Meanwhile, a renegade CIA agent (John Saxon) is using the penitentiary inmates as unwilling test subjects for his new experimental drug with the intention of creating an unkillable army…


“Mob shenanigans, poorly shot/edited/choreographed car chases, a bunch of prisoners being hardasses, an imprisoned mobster bullying cons and guards alike … basically every B movie plot but zombies.” Horror Movie a Day

“The whole idea of crazed, rotting inmates vs. non-crazed mates vs. soldiers never comes near the greatness of the images that conjure in your head while watching, and as the last reel commences you’ve found its been a “watchable” waste of time and concept. Although Death House is quite fleet of foot and manages to cover its meager twists well while Saxon’s direction doesn’t particularly stand out from the army of other bargain video wonders from the era.” Basement of Ghoulish Decadence

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Zombie Death House is confusing, very choppy, and covered with loose ends. However, it is a fun movie because it is classic 80’s cheese. All but one female is blonde with big hair, the dialogue is corny, and there are occasions of unrelated placement of boobies.” Best Horror Movies


“Along with any good in this movie there is an equal amount of the absurd. There is so much voice-over in this film from so many sources that it’s laughable, and it starts at the very beginning. Add to that the fact that we are thrown into the first montage before the opening credits have finished cycling and you are left dumbfounded before you even know what the film is about.” Horror’s Not Dead

“Sure the film is slow to develop the pedestrian plight of the falsely imprisoned hero (Dennis Cole), and there’s nothing much to recommend it to serious cinema fans, but this flick is great viewing for a B movie night…” Glenn Kay, Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide

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Choice dialogue:

“Don’t shoot! Or the kid gets it”

Film Facts:

The end credits are accompanied by punk band Dead Kennedys’ song ‘Chemical Warfare’.


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