Digital Dismemberment: Dead Souls Blu-Ray and DVD Review
Director– Colin Theys
Producer– Steven Adams, Bonnie Farley-Lucas, Andrew Gernhard, Richard J. Lucas, Shane O’Brien, Zach O’Brien, Kevin Shea, Justin Smith, Thomas P. Vitale and Greg White
Special FX– Steve Saturn, Brian Spears and Jackie Zbuska
Cast– Jesse James (The Amityville Horror), Bill Moseley (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2), Magda Apanowicz (The Butterfly Effect), Noah Fleiss (Brick), Jaiden Kaine (Hellbenders) and Geraldine Hughes (Gran Torino)
Released By– Shout!/Scream Factory
Release Date– 6/25/2013
The Premise: “On his 18th birthday, Johnny Petrie learns he was adopted when he inherits a farm in Maine. Eager for a new life, he leaves home to start over in this “new” dwelling. But soon he learns that the farm, abandoned for the 18 years since his natural family died, has a horrifying history. As he digs into his past, he discovers the grisly details of his family’s deaths, and the questionable teachings of his father, who’d been the local preacher. He also discovers that decades-old forces trapped in the home have revived… and set into motion a heart-stopping ritual prompted by his return to the fold!”
Ghost and possession films have long been a staple of the horror industry, but very few in recent years have been able to hold a candle to such classics as Poltergeist, The Shining, The Lady in White, The Sixth Sense and The Grudge. While Dead Souls is not an instant classic, it is a step up from such modern genre ghost films such as Paranormal Activity, Insidious and The Woman in Black. In fact, Dead Souls belongs in a double screening alongside Mane Entertainment’s Compound Fracture as an example of the right way to handle ghosts and their wrath. Creepy locations and a well selected class of actors (including the awesome Bill Moseley in a cameo role) help to propel the story along, and the script writing is tight enough to keep the film from becoming a rambling mess. The vast majority of the FX work is practical as well, which helps to keep the suspension of disbelief high while watching the film. Will be considered an under-rated film for a while, but if director Colin Theys continues to make genre films of this caliber, this is a film that may not be considered an all time classic but will be looked back on fondly for its uniqueness and stirring atmosphere…
The film starts off on a chilling tone as we open on a young man swinging, quickly flashing through a farmhouse to see a family going about their daily business. As the scene falls to night, we see the father working in the barn until he snaps and goes into the yard and brutally murders the family dog with a shovel before going into the house and drowning his wife in the toilet and slitting his daughters throat with a butcher knife. The young boy tries to escape with a baby, but before he can, he is caught by the father and has his head caved in. He manages to hide the baby before any harm can come to it. The father takes all of the bodies to the barn and crucifies the corpses and himself on home made crosses, even managing to impale himself upon one before the police show up. Cut to 17 years later…
We see Johnny, living with his ultra religious mother. While cleaning the house, he finds an envelope addressed to him and finds out that he has a has willed to him. His mother is very much against him going to the town and the house, and actually has to be put in the hospital after fainting. Deciding to take a chance, Johnny decides to meet with the real estate agent and see the house for himself. Not receiving a friendly welcome upon arriving in town, he is shocked to find out that the house and property are worth a good deal of money. He asks to stay the night at the house and wants to know more about his family. The real estate agent relents and lets him stay at the house. Johnny is surprised to see that there is a young woman squatting in the house named Emma. There seems to be an odd connection between the two, and odd circumstances that both of them experience draws them closer together as they try to find out the mysteries of the house and his family…
Strange animals and people show up at the house, including Bill Moseley in a great cameo role. Johnny and Emma begin the put together the gruesome pieces of his families history, even finding an odd drawing under one of the rugs in the living room. Johnny begins flashing back to events in the family history, seeing that his family was taking place in a ritual that would allow all of the to be together after death. The ghosts begin to make themselves more visible to the both of them, even leading Johnny to his father’s study, where he finds all kinds of odd books that contain the image in the living room on the floor. Different people Johnny has met since he gets to town start dying and the mayhem really begins. Will Johnny get all of the answers to what his family did and can he and Emma escape before the ghosts complete the ritual? You are going to have to watch to find out…
Audio Commentary Audio 1: Director Colin Theys, Screenwriter John Doolan and Producer Andrew Gernhard.
Blooper Reel: Running Time of 7 minutes, 30 seconds showing various reshoots and takes from the film. This feature really shows you why you don’t ever want to work with animals if you can help it…
Set Tour: Running Time of 6 minutes. Director Colin Theys takes us on a tour of the set of Dead Souls. One of the most interesting aspects of the feature is that it shows you the true state of the house and what a great job they did making you believe it was fully intact and undamaged.
TV Spots: 5 TV Spots for the films original run on Chiller.
Aspect Ratio: 1080p High Definition Widescreen (1.78:1)
This time around, Shout!/Scream Factory has brought us something new to DVD, an original film! As in the past, they have payed careful attention to the transfer of the film and the audio quality is top notch. Dead Souls was a Chiller Original Film, so there were cuts made to show it on the channel. Shout!/Scream Factory has re-inserted 7 minutes of footage not in the the original TV version, and if the gore scenes are any indication, job well done! The commentary with Director Scott Theys, Screenwriter John Doolan and Producer Andrew Gernhard is fun and informative to listen to, and the inclusion of the tour set and bloopers really help to convey the mood of the set and what a great job they did filming the location. The only drawback to this disc is the lack of any inclusion of interviews with the cast and crew. While I understand that this is a newer film, I feel that this is a strong element that Shout!/Scream Factory brings to its releases and maybe would have brought more depth to the release. Other than that, another very strong effort on bringing us original content and another beautiful disc!
Owner of Slit of the Wrist FX and producer, actor, FX artist and writer. Film Credentials- The Forever Dead (FX, acting, producer). Z13: The Zombie Within (FX, acting), The Evil Woods (FX) and Mental Scars (FX supervisor and acting). Writing Credentials- GoreZone Magazine (UK), ShockerFest 2004 Program, ShriekFreak Quarterly, Dark Discs, Wicked Karnival and Scars Magazine.
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