February 15, 2007

DVD Review: The Amazing Screw-On Head

Tell me, how, exactly, do you approach something like The Amazing Screw-On Head? Assuming that you have no prior knowledge of what it was about, sitting down to something like this is sure to create a little anxiety. All I knew prior to pressing play was that it began life as a web show at SciFi.com, later airing on The Sci Fi Channel. It is the pilot episode for a potential series, its future seems to be in doubt as it has been sometime since it aired, and they are releasing this pilot episode on DVD. After watching it, I can only hope that we will get more adventures of Screw-On Head, perhaps this DVD release will help reach that end.

Well, let's set the stage for the Screw-On-verse. It is the 1860s and there are two histories for the young United States, the one that we all know, and the one that contains the mysteries and fantastical adventures of a one Screw-On Head. Our hero is a robotic head that can unscrew from his body and use other bodies for different purposes, an ability that he uses in service to President Abraham Lincoln.

This tale has Head, with help from his manservant Mr. Groin, is on a quest to stop the evil Emperor Zombie and his vampire queen, Patience. As all arch-villains are apt to do, the quirky Zombie is on his way to use a magical item to give him the mystical power to take over the world. It is an epic tale of past love, long reaching rivalry, and the ultimate battle of good versus evil.

At only 22 minutes in length, I was left wanting more. I want, nay, need more adventures of the robotic hero and more nefarious plans from Emperor Zombie. This short episode is funny, exciting, and highly quirky. In other words, it is right up my alley.

The character was created by Mike Mignola, the man behind Hellboy. Being so, the animation style carries his signature look and feel, with many of the scenes taken directly from his artwork, much like the filmed version of Frank Miller's Sin City. The look is unique, the feel is fun, and it is unlike the vast majority of the animated shows that are going right now.

You cannot have a show filled with such quirkiness and survive on writing alone, you need voice talent to carry it, to deliver the dialogue with style and pizzazz. The cast assembled here more than ably handles the task. Among the talent is Paul Giamatti (American Splendor, Sideways) as Screw-On Head, David Hyde Pierce (Frasier, Hellboy) as Emperor Zombie, Molly Shannon (Saturday Night Live) as the vampire Patience, and Patton Oswalt (King of Queens, Balls of Fury) as Mr. Groin.

Audio/Video. The video is presented in both full and widescreen (1.85:1) ratios, I only watched the widescreen. It looks quite good, there is a lot of black in the show and they are deep with the artwork standing out over it. The audio is included in both 5.1 and 2.0, they both sound good, nice, crisp, and clear. Nothing to complain about on either front.

Extras. There are a couple of extras included on the disk.
  • Commentary. This track features Director Chris Prynoski and Writer/Executive Producer Bryan Fuller. It is a decent track, chronicling the production process and how the various elements came to be.
  • Featurette: "From Comic to Cartoon - Making The Amazing Screw-On Head." This runs about 13 minutes and delves into how Screw-On Head came to be, from conception to execution. Not terribly in depth, but interesting nonetheless.
  • Storyboard Comparison. This is a two minute sequence comparing the finished product with the storyboards and animatics used in the production process.
  • Trailers. There are a couple of trailers included for other Lionsgate releases.

Bottomline. This is a wonderful creation. I really want to see more, and I truly hope that more episodes or volumes are created. There is such a rich and weird world in which to expand into. However, if this is all that we get, I am glad to have been able to see it, and relive it on this DVD.



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