I'm not a huge DYLAN DOG comic fan - mainly due to lack of exposure to the whole of the body of work, but I've seen a few of the books. I discovered a cache of DYLAN DOG books translated into Spanish in Mexico on one of my trips - and just the notion of a man fighting all manners of demons & undead things just grabbed my imagination. And looking at the books and seeing Groucho Marx consistently - well it kind of was the right absurdist injection of awesome that my film/comic savvy brain loves blinding together.
That said, going into the AICN event, I knew this was a film on an $8 million dollar budget & not a large scale version of DYLAN DOG, although it was originally intended to be that. Just 2 weeks before production, their budget was shrunk from triple to quadruple it's eventual budget. Meaning they had to shrink the scope or let the project die. In the Q&A after the screening, Kevin talked about how the Groucho Marx estate asked for $8 million... That wasn't going to happen for this flick. So automatically, right off the top - the absurdist level of joy that is intrinsic to DYLAN DOG is going to be missing. But before I ever walked into the theater I had given the filmmaker that much. I knew those things going in.
What remains is still mostly feeling a bit like a watered down DYLAN DOG. It's still fun, and most importantly - this will lay the groundwork for DYLAN DOG to eventual gather a significant cult following in the United States... Where despite the efforts of DARK HORSE - it is still a smaller flick. ME... I dream of DARK HORSE hooking Dylan and Hellboy up in the third HELLBOY film - but again - that's something that'll never happen... But I can dream.
I like Brandon Routh a lot as Dylan. The film is told from the perspective of Dylan Dog... in fact you'll hear Dylan narrating throughout the film. Very Chandler-esqe... Dylan had had many prior supernatural adventures, but he's put that world behind him at the start of this film. He is a broken man, a shell of the Nightmare Investigator that readers of the comics would know. Seems Dylan had fallen for a particular girl that had him in knots after she was killed on his beat. The revenge he sought resulted in his retirement from the world that needed him. He'd become a passionless P.I. getting photos of cheating wives and husbands and as we're introduced, he takes a gun away from a silly fuck that cheated on his wife, but when he belts out that "she cheated first" - Dylan pitches him his rates and to right an apparent wrong. I like that about Dylan. He is still ethical. Good for him, double dealing private eyes should do their best to have some manner of code.
In lieu of Groucho - Dylan has Sam Huntington as Marcus. In an odd way, this works. Marcus is turned into the undead - and has hysterical issues to deal with, but you actually see Marcus grow as a person through his undead turn. I like that. His character definitely keeps the humor going, and at least in this particular story - GROUCHO wouldn't give the character the story what it is getting out of Sam's Marcus. But I absolutely miss Groucho.
You have Taye Diggs as a vampire club owner with a gold fang - and Taye is pretty great here. I like his character's nonchalance. Much like Peter Stormare's Gabriel, a patriarch of a Werewolf clan that runs a New Orleans Slaughterhouse, Taye and Peter play their monsterous businessmen with a degree of lip-smacking eye-balling that keeps their characters fun. There's even Cannibal Zombies in this - and in the end credits I noticed that former AICNer (and CHUDer) Devin Faraci, of BadassDigest.com, plays an integral Cannival Zombie - that helps take out one of the early baddies.
Then we also get the biggest baddie, that big ol DARKNESS looking Demon thing from the trailers. None of the makeup or bad guy designs are much of anything to write home about. They feel like things taken from the world of television (BUFFY) and feel slightly funky. But they are fun.
I went in with hopes that Kevin Munroe made a survivable 1st live action flick. He did that. I really liked Geoffrey Hall's cinematography - letting the blacks really swallow the screen, giving the film a nice mood throughout. The fun credit on the film is the Film Editor, Paul Hirsch - who has handled that position on flicks like PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE, the original STAR WARS & EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, FOOTLOOSE and even SOURCE CODE. I love learning things like that about a film. Really can't believe I didn't realized EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE were edited by the same guy! That kind of rules.
DYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT feels like a cultural introduction to this character. A few parents brought kids to this screening - and they really loved the hell out of it, so if you're looking for fun horror to take a kid to that has real make-up and men in suits - this is a fun alternative from the gigantic budgeted flicks coming.