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"No pulse? No problem."
on September 8, 2011
Nowadays Dylan Dog, down and out bloke, is more your typical private eye, maybe seedier than most, maybe specializing in tracking straying spouses and taking snapshots of them in the act of straying. But, once upon a time, Dylan Dog was relevant. He was THE paranormal investigator, the one human entrusted by the supernatural community to act as their impartial arbitrator, to examine and probe and poke into things when one of their own crosses the line. But that was some time ago.
You're not even aware. Amongst the unwitting normal folks lurk the creatures of the night, blending in, rubbing elbows with us, reigning in their dark impulses, and so surviving. This is especially true in a place like New Orleans, and a wilder neck of the woods you'll be hard put to find. New Orleans invented "Laissez les bon temps rouler" and "Let your inhibitions go." In N'awlins the monsters effortlessly blend in. And when it's that easy, sometimes a monster slips up. Enough that it shakes Dylan Dog out of his deep doldrums. With some reluctance - but to revenge the savaging of a friend - he takes on a case uptown regarding a girl's murdered father, murdered by a werewolf. Armed with wood- and silver-tipped bullets, Dylan Dog attempts to get to the bottom of things before a war erupts among the werewolf, zombie, and vampire clans, all of whom used to be part of his clientele. Once upon a time, Dylan Dog flashed a business card emblazoned with the jaunty phrase: "No pulse? No problem." That's kinda fly.
DYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT is based on the Italian comic book series by Tiziano Sclavi, and if you've had a chance to read the stories, then it'll strike you that the film is a bit of a departure, in that it doesn't quite hold on to the original source's heightened sense of melancholy and surrealism. But the black humor survives for the most part. DYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT, if you must categorize it, falls in the realm of horror comedy, in the same vein as CEMETERY MAN. (And, no wonder, as the central character in CEMETERY MAN was also created by Tiziano Sclavi.)
I like this movie, and maybe I should feel guilty about that. But I'm always jonesing for these sorts of pictures. DYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT doesn't have the outrageous charm and sheer quotability of, say, ARMY OF DARKNESS, and Brandon Routh certainly doesn't flaunt the iconic appeal of Bruce Campbell. But I thought there were some fantastic touches in DYLAN DOG. I enjoyed the noirish feel and the brisk pace. I appreciated the film's worldbuilding, and Dylan Dog's unique place in it. The film's secret weapon is Sam Huntington whose performance as Dylan's sidekick Marcus serves to lighten the mood. Huntington gets some pretty funny one-liners. The zombie support group sub-plot is damn amusing. I'm rating this film 3.5 out of 5 stars.
I wish that the tone were even darker, and I know, I know, this after my mentioning Huntington's funny contributions. I wish that the story had gone for it more, that it didn't feel so much like a television episode. In Dylan Dog's investigations, he learns that a whole bunch of supernatural creatures are moving heaven and earth to locate the Heart of Belial, a mystic cross-shaped artifact which could - and stop me if you've heard this one before - summon a rampaging demon. That plot device is so old it's at the porch and yelling for the kids to get off its lawn.
Brandon Routh did a good job, I thought. Physically and in youth, he matched the Dylan Dog in the comics. But I wonder how much better the film would've been if the Dog had been played by someone with a more world-weary air about him. If you'd seen CAST A DEADLY SPELL and WITCH HUNT and Fred Ward as private eye Harry Philip Lovecraft, then I don't need to paint a picture. Fred Ward is about as world-weary as it gets, and I don't mean his gristled, broken-down looks. Still, you know what, I don't want to dump on this film too strenuously. Despite my griping, I'm craving a sequel, and if Brandon Routh reprises his role, so be it. It's not the worst thing in the world. (The worst thing in the world is, of course, KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE... or pretty much anything Uwe Boll has directed.)