Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (Blu-ray)

“You’re the living dead, Marcus. The good news is the condition is manageable.”

Very, very loosely based on the long-running Italian comic book of the same name, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night came and went from theaters in an instant in April 2011. Does it deserve to find its audience thanks to this Blu-ray, or should it disappear into the shadows…forever?

Private investigator Dylan Dog (Brandon Routh, Superman Returns) used to work for the living dead—the vampires, werewolves, and zombie communities secretly residing in and around New Orleans. When a client’s father is murdered by what appears to be a werewolf, Dylan is drawn back into the world of the supernatural.

Dylan Dog is a tough movie to write about, because there were parts of it I genuinely enjoyed, and parts that frustrated me with how they didn’t work. The movie constantly pinballed from moments of “Wow, that’s cool,” to “Wow, this is bland.”

Brandon Routh’s post-Superman choice of roles has been interesting; quirkier and edgier and than ol’ Red Boots, yet still “geek friendly.” Dylan Dog fits comfortably in that category. One of Routh’s best scenes in the film comes right at the beginning, when he outsmarts a crazed gunman. Routh sold the sly, quick-witted side of the character excellently. That’s why it pains me to say I’m not sure Routh was right for this part. Dylan is meant to be world-weary, yet Routh’s boyish good looks don’t really give him that “dragged through hell and back” visage the character demands. You can tell Routh is committed to the part, and is truly throwing himself into it, but he’s a little less “rugged” and a lot more “nice guy” than the character is written.

As a bonus, the movie serves up no shortage of vampire/werewolf/zombie action. The vampires (of course) run a swanky nightclub, the werewolves (of course) are short-tempered, and the zombies (of course) are rotting and hungry for meat. In fact, the zombies are the most interesting of the bunch, since most have maintained the intelligence and personalities of their former lives. This is where Dylan’s comic relief sidekick, Marcus (Sam Huntington, also of Superman Returns), comes into play, as his own zombie experience provides the movie with the comedy half of this horror-comedy. The bad news for connoisseurs of the genre is that most of the supernatural freakiness will be stuff they’ve seen before. For every werewolf or vampire battle that Dylan finds himself in, viewers will be reminded of Blade, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Underworld, and True Blood.

Other positives include a nice supporting cast, with scenery-chewing performances from Peter Stormare (Prison Break) and Taye Diggs (Chicago) as monstrous monsters. Anita Briem (The Tudors) makes less of an impression as the requisite client/love interest. The plot moves along at a quick pace, as Dylan makes his way from monster fight to monster fight in quick succession. Some viewers might balk at how he gets beaten senseless and thrown from great heights, only suffering minor scrapes and bruises.

The visuals are razor sharp in 1080p. Dylan Dog is colorfully dark, like most horror-comedies, and the colors really pop. A standout is a simpler scene, in which Dylan and his client walk down a New Orleans street at night. The amount of detail both on them and the background makes this otherwise ordinary exposition scene a visual stunner. The DTS-HD 5.1 Mast Audio fluctuates between super loud during the action and fighting, and sometimes too soft during the dialogue, which required some fiddling with the remote.

I hope Dylan’s next case is to find whatever happened to all the bonus features, because you won’t get any on this disc.

I wanted to like Dylan Dog: Dead of Night. I hoped it would be one of those under-the-radar movies that really takes you by surprise because of how cool and different it is. Instead, it’s more of a “been there, done that” for fans of horror-comedies. If that’s your thing, then definitely put it in your rental queue.

The Verdict

Send this dog off to the kennel.

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