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STUDIO: Anchor Bay
RUNNING TIME: 90 min.
• 3 Featurettes
• Audio Commentary with Director Jeremy Kasten and Producer Mark Altman
• Deleted Scene
• Extended Scene
• Storyboard Gallery
• Screenplay (DVD-ROM)
If you’re a regular reader of this site, chances are you’re an aspiring genre filmmaker of one sort or another. You may have big plans– an epic vision, a world-shaking concept, but if you’re a realist you also know you’ll have to start slow. You’ll have to make something cheap, marketable, and most importantly, profitable. 10 to 1 says you make a horror flick; even money says it’s a zombie movie. Ask Sam Raimi. Or Peter Jackson.
It helps if you happen to work for a well-established genre publication, but the movie’s still gotta be good. This first offering from CFQ Films (that’s ‘Cinefantastique Films’ to us old-timers) is fairly ambitious for its $1 million budget.
2030 AD: Madonna reinvents herself one more time.
All Souls Day takes place entirely within a small Mexican town, but the action plays out in three distinct periods. Before the standard-issue college kids arrive to offer up their throats to creepy local sheriff David Keith, we get an episode set in the 1950s starring gore’s favorite geek, Jeffrey Combs. And before that, we open a hundred years in the past where none but the almighty Trejo is our guide. Make no mistake, though—the cast list is a classic bait-and-switch; 45 minutes in, the only recognizable face left onscreen is Mulholland Drive’s Laura Harring.
"Waddya mean, Firefly got cancelled?"
So. Those kids. Those crazy, meddling kids. They do crazy kid stuff, like have gratuitous sex, barricade themselves in a creepy building all night, display surprising skill with firearms, and occasionally venture outside to get eaten. Marisa Ramirez comes off best, as an assimilated Latina who learns a bit more about her cultural history than she expected. Nicole Hiltz brings welcome energy to the proceedings, but also gets stuck with the film’s most ridiculous scene: a Buffy-style wire-fu fight stylistically at odds with the rest of the action. Speaking of distracting pop-culture references, did Travis Wester’s character absolutely have to be named… Joss?
Watch and learn, Grasshopper. All Soul’s Day can’t decide whether to try something different with the Undead Splatter canon or just pay humorous tribute to it, and tears itself in half trying to do both.
5 out of 10
16:9 anamorphic. Surprisingly, given their budget, the production shot on 35mm, and bully for them. Having two-thirds of the movie set at night doesn’t do the transfer any favors, but colors are solid and bright when they need to be and detail is good.
7 out of 10
"Thanks fer the URL, dude."
5.1 and 2.0, defaulting to 5.1 so you can savor each crunching bone. Also, there are some nice spatial effects with the wind blowing around. Joe Kraemer’s old-style score is well-presented.
7 out of 10
The director and the writer/producer start off the commentary track in high spirits, with the enthusiasm of guys who are just glad they got their movie made at all. After a while they calm down and start making more critical observations, such as admitting that the wire-fu sequence got away from them.
"All you zombies? Hide your faces."
Next we get three featurettes. Raising the Dead: The Making Of… is largely post-release talking head stuff about how great everybody was to work with, but the other two go into a fair amount of detail. Jailhouse Rock: The Stunts spotlights actress/stuntwoman Danielle Burgio, who not only came to the project at the last minute and inherited some of the most difficult action in the film, but gave one of the most memorable performances in it. She cleans up nice. Faces of Death: The Make-Up Effects lives up to its title, offering glimpses of some genuine morgue photos upon which the creature team based their work. Yeesh.
"Guard? Can I get a towel?"
Forced trailers are thankfully relevant, including great ones for Near Dark and the original Dawn of the Dead.
8 out of 10
A skull, a cross, and some bones, which doesn’t say much specific about this particular movie. Nothing wrong with that, but with the red background it kind of looks like a pissed-off Swiss flag.
5 out of 10