HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Monday, August 1, 2011

DYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT -- DVD review by porfle

In the tradition of HBO's CAST A DEADLY SPELL, in which Fred Ward played an old-school private eye in a world filled with monsters and the supernatural, DYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT (2010) gives us Brandon Routh as a monster-hunting P.I. in a New Orleans that's overrun with vampires, werewolves, and zombies. 

Currently working as a sleazy bedroom dick, Routh's Dylan Dog gets drawn back into his former life when an antiques smuggler is killed by a werewolf.  According to the victim's daughter, Elizabeth (Anita Briem), the only item missing from his collection is the Heart of Belial, a silver cross containing a vial of monster blood which, injected into one of the undead, will create an unstoppable beast under the control of the one who wields the artifact. 

Dylan's return to the dark underworld (which, in fact, sometimes resembles UNDERWORLD with all its vampires and werewolves, not to mention BLADE) reacquaints him with old fiends and puts him in the middle of an impending war between the wolves and the vamps.  His reluctant partner Marcus (Sam Huntington, NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE) finds out about zombies the hard way--by becoming one.  A lot of the film's lowbrow humor stems from Marcus' difficult transition from living to undead, especially when he discovers that a zombie's diet consists mainly of maggots and worms.  In one scene, he seeks help from a support group known as C.O.L.D. (Coalition of Living Dead).

The film starts out with a superficial bad-comic-book air that threatens to get tiresome pretty quick.  Fortunately, once Dylan settles back into his old ways and starts taking on various denizens of the night in a succession of encounters both physical and verbal (and armed with wooden-tipped bullets and silver knuckledusters), things get interesting enough to make the story worth sticking out to the end.  It's all still a bit on the lightweight side and nowhere near as good as its influences (a Fred Ward type is sorely missed in the lead role) yet the filmmakers manage to instill everything with a fair amount of enthusiasm and imagination. 

Routh acquits himself adequately as the manly action hero of the story, but as an actor he's no Ed Norton.  Classing things up a bit is Peter Stormare (FARGO) as Dylan's old friend Gabriel, head of a werewolf clan whose members are being killed off by an unknown attacker.  Taye Diggs also comes off pretty well as vampire playa Vargas, owner of a nightclub where vamp blood is sold to humans as a drug.  Vargas' ambition to become king of the vampires makes him a formidable opponent for Dylan.  Olympic weightlifter and WWF wrestler Kurt Angle plays beefy werewolf Wolfgang with a sufficient amount of beef.

Old-style monster fans will be pleased to find a minimum of CGI in evidence here.  Digital trickery is used mainly in transitions from human to monster or from monster to even worse monster, after which we get a variety of nicely-executed makeups and other practical effects including a couple of full-body suits.  Most of the digital bells-and-whistles are saved for the big finale (in which the Heart of Belial is finally used to create the super-monstrosity we've all been waiting for) although even here, the SPFX don't go as far overboard as they might have. 

The DVD from 20th-Century Fox Home Entertainment is in 2:35.1 widescreen with Dolby 5.1 sound and English and Spanish subtitles.  There are no extras. 

The main reason I kind of liked DYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT is that it isn't loaded with CGI werewolves that look like big cartoony coyotes and emo-teen vampires that sparkle.  This is old-fashioned Halloween-type monster stuff, and, while not all that memorable, it'll do until something better comes along.  Still, the set-up for a sequel at the end doesn't exactly have me on pins and needles.

Buy it at

No comments: