Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

Film review by: Witney Seibold

I come to praise “Dylan Dog,” not to bury it.

O.k. Kevin Munroe‘s “Dylan Dog: Dead of Night,” based on an Italian comic book, and having a big stupid premise, is, in the eyes of my inner 14-year-old, one of the best films of the year. My 32-year-old self is in direct conflict with this impulse, as he saw a sloppily edited and middling genre thriller, not typically worth much further insight, but my inner teenager was quick to compare “Dylan Dog” to the little-seen and underrated TV movie “Cast a Deadly Spell,” and wished that it has been made in 1991, so the lead role could have been tackled by a young Bruce Campbell. It’s the same kind of silly horror/comedy that would have once been a cult classic. As it stands, it’ll likely be swallowed by its competition. But to the ambitious teenagers reading this review (both of you), I encourage you to seek out this oddity. It will give you pleasures you may not ordinarily get.

The Bruce Campbell role in “Dylan Dog: Dead of Night” is played by Brandon Routh, and while he doesn’t have Campbell’s toughness or working-class sensibilities (Routh would not find himself nailed to a wooden cross and pushed through the mud), he does have Campbell’s affable charm and square-jawed good looks. Mr. Dog, who currently works as a sleazy Luddite P.I. In New Orleans, but who was once employed by the city’s secret cadres of vampires and werewolves as their human cop. The vampires and werewolves (and other assorted monsters) operate like a mafia in this universe, and, to play fair, they once hired a cop to make sure there would never be a proper gang war. Dylan has retired from the game, and spend his days fighting off the ambitions of his go-getter intern Marcus (the very funny Sam Huntington).

He is pulled back into the game by the local murder of a rare antiques dealer, and the panic of his wispy, shabby-chic, pajama-clad daughter Elizabeth (scattered model-type Anita Briem). Dylan disocvers that the murder must have been committed by a werewolf, and invovles the disappearance of a magical artifact coveted not only by the local werewolf mob boss (Peter Stormare), but also by the local vampire mob boss (Taye Diggs). Lurking around the edges or zombies, ghouls (who are addicted to drinking vampire blood), and the curse of an ancient Satan-like being named Belial. There is a subplot involving Marcus who, rather unfortunately, finds himself a zombie (!), and has to learn the practical ins and outs of living as the undead; it turns out that worms are your new food, and replacing body parts has to be done regularly.

To give you an idea of the film’s ton, here are some good pieces of dialogue:

“That’s the thing about werewolf hair: It doesn’t lie.”

“YOU’RE the bad guy! You’d kill thousands of innocent undead!”

“You’re dead. The good news is that the condition is manageable.”

“My arm is brown!” “Sorry. They didn’t have Caucasian in your size.”

I hesitate to call “Dylan Dog: Dead of Night” a good film, and I don’t think I can, in good conscience, recommend it to the public at large. It is shabbily edited, drags in parts, and has a central story that doesn’t really ever completely gel. What I can call it is a partially-hidden genre pleasure for young boys looking for a genre film that’s fun and silly, and not “gritty” or lugubriously turgid. There have been several films to feature cops or enforcers moving amongst hidden worlds of vampires and beasts, and the bulk of them tend to be about grizzled, snarling badasses who don’t recognize how extraordinary all of this is. “Dylan Dog” is refreshingly flip in its attitude, and strangely upbeat for a film about zombies and creatures.

Every enthused genre fan of a certain age should take note. The rest of you, judge as you will.

Published in: on May 6, 2011 at 1:43 pm  Comments (1)  

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