Digi-Schlock: DEAD SHADOWS (Scream Factory Blu-Ray)

A lot of genre films, particularly the foreign variety, get the shaft when it comes to distribution in the U.S.  However, there are a handful of indie home video distribution outfits willing to take a chance on these movies.  Thought they are better known for reissues of vintage American fare, Scream Factory has thrown its hat into this ring with a release of the French film Dead Shadows.  The results are a nice addition to their repertoire, offering a solid transfer and carrying over a few extras from its European release.

DeadShad-bluDead Shadows is presented at the unusual aspect ratio of 2.00:1 and its digital cinematography and CGI effects come across nicely.  Colors are suitably vivid, black levels are solid during the frequent dark interiors and night exteriors and the details have the appropriate HD clarity.  As for audio, there are four(!) different lossless soundtracks to choose from: 5.1. French and English tracks as well as 2.0 variants of each.  The English track is a dub so the French tracks are the better choices.  The 5.1 French track was listened to for this review: it’s surprisingly low-key for a modern mix but it gets the job done.

There is also a set of extras, mostly of the promotional variety.  The most substantial is a 34 minute interview with director David Cholewa.  It’s a talking head piece interspersed with title card questions but Cholewa keeps it interesting by being very forthcoming about his efforts.  He talks about his childhood love of horror, how he used the contacts he developed as a sales agent for foreign films to lay the groundwork for his first feature and some appreciations of his different collaborators (both cast and crew).  He’s also very willing to discuss his influences, which he namechecks in a way that directors are often reluctant to do, and talks a bit at the end about all the other projects he has in the works.

The remainder of the bonus features are brief.  There is a “Making of Special Effects” piece that offers before-and-after comparisons of raw footage with the CGI effects that were laid in later.  “Deleted Scene” runs under a minute but actually presents a few different snippets of unused effects, including some alternate versions of effects in the film.  “Unfinished FX Scene” shows the raw footage and a rough computer animation for a large scale creature that didn’t make it to the final cut.  The extras wrap up with two trailers, a theatrical spot and a teaser.  The theatrical spot is the better of the two, doing a good job of selling the film as a CGI-intensive thrill ride.

In short, this is a tidy little package for a film that might have otherwise slipped under the radar in the U.S.  Scream Factory has done well by Dead Shadows and one hopes they’ll continue to supplement their reissued classics with ventures into new horror.

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