Dead Shadows Blu-Ray Review
Blu-Ray Review- Dead Shadows
Distributor: Scream Factory
Street Date: April 29th 2014
Technical Specifications: 1080P Video, French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Color, 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio, English Subtitles
Runtime(s): 74 Minutes
At the beginning of David Cholewa’s Dead Shadows, strange black tentacles appear in the outer universe, and as they form a black hole, a meteor emerges. The glowing meteor breaks apart as it enters Earth’s atmosphere, leaving small particles strewn in its wake. Young Chris wakes after hearing some commotion, only to find his Stepfather slashing his Mother’s face in the kitchen. Fast-forward to ten years later, Chris is now in his early twenties and “working” as an over-the-phone computer support specialist. Of course he would much rather play video games than actually help any of his customers.
After a short run-in with neighborhood bullies and end-is-nigh spouting alcoholics, David finally gets a chance to meet the beautiful Claire, the neighbor across the hall from his apartment. David is shy and soft-spoken, and Claire is sarcastic and forward. After some small talk, David agrees to attend the “end of the world” party down the block to celebrate the passing of another comet.
The promising party quickly turns sour, thanks to some melting faces, mutated alien genitalia, and other creepy comet shenanigans. Making his way back to his apartment, David is soon forced to overcome his fear of the dark and troubled past to take on the alien invaders. With a little help from his samurai sword-wielding neighbor, and a couple of baseball bats, he just might get the job done. Or will he become part of the problem?
Dead Shadows is an odd genre mix, produced on a low budget, and seemingly cobbled together from other, better films. One of the main problems with the film is its odd length and frantic timing, with the main action sequences saved for the last twenty minutes of the movie. It’s a shame because the first 40 minutes or so had me hooked, even with a lack of originality, it kept my interest with it’s ominous opening and creepy musical score by Kevin Riepl. But alas the creatures are very Cronenberg-esque, the CGI effects are a bit sloppy, and the editing is inconsistent (count the fade-to-black moments), resulting in a forgettable film experience.
Those who have followed me here from The Film Fan Channel know that I am a huge supporter of Scream Factory and their mission. They are without a doubt the best company distributing Horror titles right now, ever mindful of pleasing the fans while crafting a quality product line of cult-classics Horror titles. But I’ll be honest with you: whenever Scream Factory announces a modern film title (like the Chiller TV entries they have put out), I get a little nervous. The anxiety, unfortunately, was substantiated here.
Dead Shadows looks pretty good in High Definition from Scream Factory. There are moments, usually during the visual effects sequences, where parts of the picture seem pixelated or soft, but then it quickly clears up in the next shot. When evaluating the picture quality, you do have to take into account the production budget and digital development Dead Shadows was filmed with, which wasn’t exactly high end. The overall look of the film has a slight blue-green tint. Fine object detail is never stand-out, but color reproduction is relatively good and this is likely an accurate representation of what it looked like theatrically.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio here works well. Dialogue (in French) comes through clean and clear, the music is well balanced, and sound effects and background noise are integrated just fine. It won’t blow you away or wake the neighbors, but it gets the job done. Whatever you do, watch the film in French with English subtitles. I briefly turned on the English dub to test it out, and very quickly changed back.
Here’s a breakdown of what’s included:
- Interview with David Cholewa: Running over thirty minutes in length, this extended interview with the Director is in French with English subtitles. Clearly a fan of the genre and with the best intentions in mind, David Cholewa is interesting to hear from. The interview questions come in title cards with a static shot of Cholewa answering to the camera. This isn’t the usual well-made interview featurette from Scream Factory, but it’s obvious that they didn’t have much to do with making this particular segment.
- Making of Special Effects: This short featurette runs nearly four minutes and is a simple before and after look at several sequences from the film, before and after the CGI effects were added. There is no commentary throughout this, just a song that plays over the visuals.
- Deleted Scenes: Not exactly what you expect. This is forty-nine seconds of slightly extended scenes that were already in the film including the aforementioned mutated genitalia (which looks slightly different), a practical effect shot of an arm falling off, and a tentacle arm effect shot.
- Unfinished VFX Scene: Yet another strange and short (32 seconds) segment from the end of the film where a human-faced alien slug slithers in the background.
- Trailer: The original theatrical trailer for the film.
- Teaser Trailer: The original teaser trailer.
As you can see from the “Unboxing” pictures below, this Scream Factory release comes with a nice slipcover as well as reversible artwork and disc art. Though I wasn’t crazy about the film itself, I really dig the cover art here, and it’s an all-around nice looking package.
I went into Dead Shadows with a positive attitude and ready for fun, but what I experienced was an odd genre mix that just didn’t work for me. Heavy on borrowed elements, poor CGI effects, and a disappointing finale, this is rental material at best. The good news is that Scream Factory (as always) has included some worthwhile bonus features for fans, and the picture and audio quality get the job done. Luckily this great company has some terrific catalog classics up their sleeves for their upcoming Summer of Fear.