Friday, April 18, 2014

DEAD SHADOWS (2012) Blu-ray review

Dead Shadows (2012) d. David Cholewa (France)

All right, sports fans, strap on your helmets and get ready for sharp turns ahead. This debut feature from Frenchman Cholewa is a WTF blend of horror, sci-fi, action, apocalypse comedy, creature feature, zombie flick, alien invasion, and all-out crazycakes that sees modern-day Paris ground zero for one big whopper of a comet and shinola hitting the fan in the most exuberant fashion imaginable.

Some things get explained, even more do not, but the damn thing moves at such a relentlessly bonkers pace that the viewers feels as though they are never ahead of the film, but caught up in the whip-neck mayhem right alongside our main character.

Chris (newcomer Fabian Wolfrom) is an introverted, frustrated, and over-caffeinated IT experts who operates from his shambles of an apartment adorned with Escape from New York posters, spying on his hot down-the-hall neighbor (Blandine Marmigère) through his peephole and occasionally menaced by the local thugs loitering outside. (Arrow in the Head honcho John Fallon stars as the lad’s uber-badass neighbor, and if you didn’t love him enough already for his well-informed and nimble wordplay, his supercool presence here proves the man is a multitalented emmereffer.)

However, Chris’ humdrum life gets turned upside down when the aforementioned comet passes by, causing all manner of insanity from madness to mutations to monstrosities. To make matters worse, our hero already has serious issues with celestial skyrockets, since Dad butchered up Mum the night Halley’s Comet came to town back in ’86, resulting in a paralyzing fear of the dark.

If you haven’t gotten the message already, Chelowa and screenwriter Vincent Julé aren’t concerned with anything other than a good time, and that’s how Dead Shadows should be approached: It’s as though the fever dreams of a sixth-grade monster kid hopped up on Sugar Smacks were splattered directly onto the screen. Wolfrom makes for an engaging protagonist, and while the CGI gets a little dodgy at times, the sheer energy of the enterprise earned a lot of goodwill from this particular viewer.

Shout! Factory, already a leader in today’s classic horror revival market, branches out again into the realm of recent releases, following last year’s successful home video issue of Cockneys vs. Zombies. While not packed to the proverbial gills with the retrospective goodies of their older films, we do get a frank and amusing DIY self-conducted 33-min. interview by Cholewa where the director responds to a myriad of questions “posed” via interstitial screens of text. Dead Shadows’ journey from concept to crowd-pleaser is a fairly unique one, and its creator (Chowela came up with the story, then hired Julé to hammer out the screenplay) is clearly an enthusiastic genre fan and a just-as-enterprising businessman.

Other supplemental features include a brief glimpse at the special effects (mostly seeing what was live on set, the CGI artwork, and then seeing it composited into the scene), a deleted scene, and a couple trailers.

Dead Shadows is available for order on DVD and Blu-ray beginning Tuesday, April 29 from Shout! Factory. Pre-orders can be placed HERE.

--Aaron Christensen, HorrorHound Magazine

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