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Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (2011)

May 7, 2011

written by: Thomas Dean Donnelly & Joshua Oppenheimer

produced by: Gilbert Adle& Scott Mitchell Rosenberg
directed by: Kevin Munroe
rated PG-13 (for sequences of creature violence and action, language including some sexual references, and some drug material) 
107 min.
U.S. release date: April 29, 2011
“Dylan Dog: Dead of Night” is proof that not every beloved Italian comic book should be made into a movie. Well, at least not by Americans apparently because this monster movie is a dog. A dud of a dog. Littered with amateur narration and endless exposition that all but neuters any original take on the paranormal detective sub genre,  this movie feels like a bad television pilot that never got greenlit. Regardless of medium, it all could’ve been a fun and freaky good time, considering the potential, but then again such material has been covered before in more unique and entertaining ways. 

The story is set in modern-day New Orleans, where former investigator Dylan Dog (Brandon Routh, “Superman Returns”),  can be found taking what lowlife case comes his way. He used to be a private dick for the undead and local supernatural ilk (werewolves, vampires, and zombies) that reside in the Big Easy, but after his girlfriend died as a result of his involvement in such affairs, he hung it all up. Then the requisite macabre murder occurs, wherein a blank slate of a girl named Elizabeth (Anita Briem, “Journey to the Center of the Earth”) seeks out Dylan to look into what furry beast killed her father. Fittingly, his former business cards read “No pulse? No problem”.

Out comes the old bag of antiquated tricks, as Dylan is pulled back into the underground where everybody knows his name. Teamed with his newly-zombified sidekick, Marcus (Sam Huntington, “Superman Returns”, heh!), Dylan combs the local haunts to prevent some fancy vampire doohickey from getting in the wrong hands and raising Belial. 


Along the way, we encounter a variety of ridiculously unoriginal characters, working in stereotypically shady environments as we follow Dylan through the motions. From the lycan mafia don, Gabriel (Peter Stormare, biting into it with abandon), to the amusing yet indecipherable expert, Borelli (Marco St. John), to the vampire leader of the nightlife (Taye Diggs, starts out strong, ends in ridiculousness), it all feels like as kitchen sink as “Van Helsing”. So much so, that we even get a laughable six-foot seven tattooed zombie (Brian Steele, known for playing such heavies as Sammael & Wink in the “Hellboy” movies and Harry from the “Harry and the Hendersons” TV series, hey, it’s a living) and Wolfgang (wrestler Kurt Angle) a werewolf musclehead who eventually aids Dylan. 

The whole thing is one drawn out mess that spreads its wings into demonic silliness toward the end. Of course, by then, I had yawned countless times and was painfully bored. There’s no tangible talent coming from director Kevin Monroe (“TMNT”) , who offers nothing original or different to gaze at. I want to believe that the source material, Dylan Dog, a classic from Italy created by Tiziano Sclavi (still in publication since 1986), has more to offer than what transpired on-screen. Maybe this is fitting coming from Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer, the writing team that botched “A Sound of Thunder” (itself an awful adaptation of a Ray Bradbury short) and soon to mess up “Conan the Barbarian” this summer. 


It’s difficult to say who the audience for a movie like this would be.  Fans of the comic will surely be disappointed as will those hoping to experience some kind of fun monster mash. The creatures come off looking like low-rent cosplay. I’ve seen better rubber suits on “Buffy” or even “Sanctuary”, and those weren’t even all that. One scene that added some fun, was a moment where Dylan takes Marcus to a body shop to get a new arm. There we find a veritable market for human parts, where zombie (some of the most docile I’ve ever seen on film) shoppers can get a good deal on parts, without being charged on arm or a leg…..sorry, I had to.

Throughout the film, I was left perplexed at every turn for a variety of reasons. Motivation and identification of characters is pointless when the storytelling is this sloppy. At no point was it explained that Dylan had any kind of super powers, yet each time he’s in a fight with an oversized baddie, he’s flung around like a dog’s soggy chew toy. I also found it sloppy, how so many elements of the movie were ripped off from movies like “Underworld”, “Hellboy” and even HBO’s “True Blood”.  It’s hard to compare it with any other movie though because it doesn’t feel like a movie at all, especially the soundtrack which often seems unnecessarily noticeable and out-of-place.  


As for the cast, they wind up simply being parts of the rotting movie. Many think Brandon Routh killed Superman (which I don’t agree with), but I think given the right role, he can show some promise (see “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”). He looks fine for the part of Dylan (then again I’ve never read the comic) but the exorbitant amount of exposition the character gives us is criminal. As his partner, Huntington, who played Jimmy Olsen in “Superman Returns”,  provides some good comic relief, but at times delivers too big to be taken seriously. For something as fantastical as this, selling the material seriously can often bring some needed truth. There’s not much to be said about the rest of the acting here, since it’s either bland, hammy or vacant. 

After a while I was just fighting to stay awake watching this one. It really felt like an assignment that I wasn’t looking forward to, one in which I just had to get through. I highly doubt this movie will last in theaters more than a week. Sometimes you hear that movies are so bad that you want to check them out for yourself and sometimes I watch them for you. Let’s leave it at that. You’re welcome.

RATING: *1/2

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Erica permalink
    December 20, 2015 9:17 am

    You should only watch historical documentaries. Have you ever heard of FUN? I think Dylan Dog is a great diversion from reality. Which I believe was clearly the whole point. To give a serious analysis of why parts of it are not realistic, (scoffing at flying 100 feet through the air and landing on a car after being punched by a 7 foot tattooed zombie), is almost more laughable than the movie.

    • David J. Fowlie permalink*
      December 20, 2015 7:25 pm

      Actually, I can think of many other things “more laughable” than this movie.


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