March 18, 2012

DVD Review: Where the Dead Go to Die

Where the Dead Go to Die is a trio of loosely connected stories of demons, dismemberment, blood, monsters, gore, violence, and weird sex. On top of that, it is animated, which was probably the better way to go. When you consider (much less, see) some of the things are depicted here, it would be virtually unreleasable had it actually been made as a live action film. As it stands, this is going to have a hard enough time finding an audience. I like weird and crazy stuff, but there is something about this that goes to the edge of the weird and crazy and then gleefully jumps into the abyss.

Before I even attempt to tell you about this, I think you need to read the synopsis that got me interested in the first place:
Where the Dead Go To Die revolves around a troubled group of children living on the same block. They are haunted by a talking dog named Labby who brings them on surreal hell-rides between different dimensions and time periods. On the night of a lunar eclipse he informs Tommy about the devil fetus living inside his mother. The same night he attempts to help Ralph court the girl across the street, who is an unwilling participant in her father's child porn tape trading ring. Add in a memory stealing junkie living inside an abandoned church and you have 90 minutes of pure mind melting insanity.

When you read a description like that, the only response that you can have is "How can I see this?" Just remember what has been seen cannot be unseen. Sure, I have seen more graphic films, but the crazy material paired with the animation is unforgettable and unsettling. Even when I was not sure exactly what was happening, the visuals leave a mark. I am not disappointed that I saw it, as it is an experience I won't soon forget.

Where the Dead Go to Die is a movie that defies explanation. It seems to only exist to shock and offend especially with what happens in the first segment. In the first twenty minutes we have blasphemy, demons, child murder, nudity, and bestiality. Seriously, if you are easily offended, steer clear of this at all costs.

As I mentioned earlier, this movie is animated. The style is very crude CG, not unlike what you would see in animatics (animated storyboards used in planning movies, they occasionally appear as extras on home video releases). It looks like something made at home when trying to learn how to animate. However, their crudeness only adds to the overall effect of the bizarre material by adding this bizarre animation layer. It proves that in some cases low-fi is the way to go to achieve an affect. There is some neat stuff with the rudimentary animation, it is not good but some of the rendering mistakes and glitches add to the surreal look and feel of the film.

Now, I would love to give you more plot description, but if you are interested in this it would be better to go in knowing as little as possible about it. Besides, aside from that earlier synopsis, there is no way to give a straightforward description.

There are some interesting, if strange, story elements that I would like to see expanded on in some other sort of project. I particularly liked the memory stealing junkie and his technology that can extract liquid memories from a dying brain and inject them into himself. They are his drug and this memory liquid stuff can then be used to rewrite bad memories. It is kind of like stem cells for memory. That is a seriously interesting idea and would like to see what that lone idea could be turned into by a more skilled filmmaker. In a way it reminds me of Strange Days where experiences could be recorded on a chip and experienced by others, like a drug.

The voice and motion capture cast is filled with names that I don't recognize save for one. While the movie does feel like a do it at home project with friends, the creators were able to get Linnea Quigley (Return of the Living Dead, Night of the Demons) to play a small role voice role (documented in the extra features).

The film was written and directed by a guy named Jimmy ScreamerClauz, which I am guessing is a pseudonym. He has quite the crazy imagination. I am not sure he has a lot to say aside from throwing a lot of crazy stuff on the screen, but he does have a vision for the strange and bizarre. He has a ways to go with his animation techniques. There a synch issues and clipping all over the place, which I understand can be chalked up to his on the job learning process and not knowing exactly what he was doing or how to animate. Although, it is interesting to note that he did use some motion capture using Xbox Kinect!

Audio/Video. This DVD is presented in a ratio of 1.85:1 and looks decent enough. This is a low budget creation made by a filmmaker who was teaching himself as he went along. Detail is limited to his rudimentary animation, but the colors are pretty solid and definitely pop off the screen. This is definitely a what you is what you get project and it is fine for what it is.

Audio is a 5.1 Dolby Digital track and the low budget nature aids it in its creepiness, but there are a lot of times where dialogue is hard to understand, muffled, or just low. It is not exactly a good track. Still, I am willing to give lot of leeway considering the low-budget, do it yourself nature. I don't think I could have done any better.

  • Commentary. Writer/director Jimmy ScreamerClauz is featured and he offers a lot of information about the creation and history of these features, including rather frank talk of not knowing what he was doing and wanting to simplify things and just not caring about some of the problems. This is one of the most honest and up front tracks I have heard.
  • Deleted Scenes Montage. Nearly three minutes of cut bits and pieces with commentary from the director as to why they were not used.
  • Recording Liquid Memories. This runs near 19-minutes and features footage of them recording with Linnea Quigley. Discussion includes selling body clippings and parts online. 
  • Kinect Motion Capture Madness. Four minutes of them getting the camera set up to record.
  • Ice Cream Sunday. This is an 18-minute short film by Victor Bonacore. There is also a director commentary track.
Bottomline. If you like bizarre and possibly offensive material, track this down. I guarantee you have never seen anything quite like this. If you are easily offended, don' like indie type of creations, or have more mainstream tastes, avoid this. It is definitely unlike anything else on the shelves. It may just melt your brain.


Article first published as DVD Review: Where the Dead Go to Die on Blogcritics

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