Director – Peter Wittman (Ellie)
Starring – Yvonne DeCarlo (The Munsters, Cellar Dweller), Stephanie Dunnam (Silent Rage, Silk Stalkings), and David Cullinane (Superboy, Best Friends)
Release Date – 1983
Rating – 3/5
Blu Release – 3.5/5
Tagline – “A raging madness unleashed to kill!”
I’m the worst reviewer in history of horror reviews. I often find myself falling way behind in reviews and most of mine go up months after an initial release. Some companies don’t mind but others do get a little touchy. Over the years I’ve found several companies that release quality films that I would have normally skipped over due to weird artwork or an interesting title but Vinegar Syndrome brings new life to these old films.
I recently finished the [Rec] collection for review from Scream Factory when I received a package from Vin Syn. In the package was the 1983 Yvonne DeCarlo film Play Dead which is a Troma release. Those of you that know me knows how much I love Troma. Instead of letting this release gather dust for months on end I decided it was the perfect time to go ahead and check out this release. Thank you Vin Syn!
**Spoiler Alert**The film follows Hestre (DeCarlo) who recently lost her sister. The pair had become estranged several decades earlier when the love of her life left Hester for her sister. Now she is dead, along with her husband, but their children still live and this pisses Hester off. Now she plans on removing her niece and nephew from this plane of existence with a little help from magic and her dog Greta.**Spoiler Alert**
Honestly, like most Troma films, I had no idea where this film was going to take me. Most Troma films are outrageous with unforgettable characters and more humor than you can laugh at. Play Dead was not one of those films. In fact, it was rather serious with some horror cliché tossed in here and there.
The acting in this one is solid but there was plenty of room for improvement. Most of the cast gives the film their all and it shows. The cast does a decent job at creating genuine characters that you may encounter in your day to day life. Sadly, the same cannot be said about legend Yvonne DeCarlo. Her performance feels forced and a few scenes she is very overdramatic.
The story for this one fits well for the time period. The Satanic Panic was in full swing so we saw hundreds of films play on that but none had Lilly Munster doing black magic to have a dog kill kids. This film is very unique in that aspect. Sure, there was other movies where a dog from hell killed people but this one put a fun spin on it. The writing is smooth for the most part but there was a few dry scenes.
Finally, the film has several on screen deaths but they are very underwhelming and easily forgettable. In fact, the death are so lame that I’ve already forgot most of them. Overall, Play Dead is a fun early 80s flick that may not be memorable but it still entertains. This release from Vinegar Syndrome looks fantastic and collectors of Troma and Vin Syn will want to grab this one.
Region Free Blu-ray/DVD combo
Newly scanned & restored in 2k from its 35mm interpositive
Video interview with director Peter Wittman
Audio interview with actress Stephanie Dunnam
Original theatrical trailer
Reversible cover artwork
English SDH subtitles