Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Dead Matter and Excellence: A Movie Review

Director: Edward Douglas.

Writers: Tony Demci and Edward Douglas.

The Dead Matter is a remake of a smaller film by director and writer Edward Douglas of the same name fifteen years previous (Fearnet). Midnight Syndicate Films and Precinct 13 Entertainment created this film through a joint production venture and The Dead Matter released on DVD July 30th. The DVD is jam-packed with special features from gag reels to music videos and the film stars Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead) with Andrew Divoff (The Rage). Totally enjoyable, this film blends a lot of genres to tell an interesting tale of witchcraft, possession and "post mortem Americans," aka zombies (Dead Matter); musical compositions also enhance the dark drama of the film.

The film interlaces a lot of sub-plots, but centrally The Dead Matter is about one devout sister's desire to speak with her dead brother. To achieve this goal a lot of friends are put in dire situations and Gretchen (Sean Serino), the sister, must face an ancient vampire named Vellich (Divoff). Many of these characters come together to square off on an ancient site, where the dead are brought back for a second shot at life.

There are many elements in the picture which are appealing including: the use of many classic movie characters e.g. vampires, vampire hunters, zombies, the inclusion of curses, a rich visual display, and clever scenes e.g. a vampire attack shown primarily through a mirror. The pacing is kept to a fast tempo, but the film does not feel rushed. The dramatic music is especially well done as rock music blends with electronica and classical. Midnight Syndicate Films started with musical compositions in film before moving to this first production and the transition is excellent: "Douglas and company [Midnight] managed to accomplish their goal of transforming Midnight Syndicate’s sense of spooky Halloween fun to a visual medium" (Fearnet). The list of quality elements continues and director Douglas shows his foundation in horror brilliantly in this first venture.

The critiques are minimal and simply include an underdeveloped plotline involving drug addicted vampires, a strange looking wig worn by Vellich, and a few scenes which are cut too short. Several minor vampires in the film use a weight loss drug to get high and this leads to their own destruction. Sadly, this plotline is given only a scene or two in a dark drug den. The grey wig worn by the central antagonist is simply over-the-top: "Divoff’s wig is a little too ‘80s hair-metal for my taste'" (Fearnet). Finally, several scenes are held to two minutes in length to add in a great deal of material and this can be a little frustrating. However, many comedic elements and nods to other films in the genre override these few negatives.

One of the best elements in The Dead Matter is the tragic ending, which leaves one of the central characters mortally wounded. The film seems to come full circle as a second female grieves the loss of an intimate. Yet, death in horror is not always a sure thing and the ending, while seemingly one scene short, begs the question: what happens next? The answer to this is up to the viewers, but here is one strong vote for more material from Douglas and his company Midnight Syndicate Films.

In closing, The Dead Matter offers a lot of footage in the film and in the DVD's bonuses. The details have really gone into the production and the result is extraordinary: "there is enough extras on hand to keep you busy for an entire weekend" (Fearnet). Available on DVD now, this reviewer encourages you to get your bloodlust fix in this well-written, well-orchestrated and comedic production.

Plot/story//treatment: 8 (-1 for some undeveloped sub-plots already mentioned, -1 for a slightly short conclusion).
Characters/characterizations: 7.5 (believable, -1.5 some stereotypes e.g. the strong jock/hero, the computer geek, -.5 for an overly happy character who is supposed to be grieving for her brother - Gretchen).

Overall: 7.75 out of 10 (well done).

The film's trailer:

The Dead Matter Trailer on 28DLA

The Dead Matter homepage:

The Official Website of The Dead Matter

A fan page for the film on Facebook:

The Dead Matter on FB

A review of the film here:

The Dead Matter on Fearnet

The deluxe edition:

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