All Superheroes Must Die DVD Review
Written and directed by Jason Trost
2011, Region 2 (PAL), 80 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 13th October 2013
Jason Trost as Charge/John
Lucas Till as Cutthroat/Ben
James Remar as Rickshaw
Sophie Merkley as Shadow/Jill
Lee Valmassy as The Wall/Charlie
Sean Whalen as Manpower
Combining my fetish for costumed superheroes beating one another up with my love of violent horror films, we have All Superheroes Must Die, a low-budget cross between Kick-Ass and The Running Man. I first heard of this film a few years ago, trawling genre news websites for the latest gossip. To say that the concept of All Superheroes Must Die piqued my imagination interest is an understatement, since my love for superheroes and horror films is so all-encompassing and abiding that I keep a Batman onesie (the only acceptable form of onesie, and technically it’s a Batsuit anyway) in the same wardrobe as my Freddy Krueger glove and Evil Dead t-shirts. With that in mind, then, had I built up expectation for All Superheroes Must Die beyond any reasonable level? Would I ruin it for myself, just as I ruined The Dark Knight Rises, by expecting it to be better than it ever possibly could be?
Probably. But I stand by my argument that The Dark Knight Rises is not a good film, expectation or no. Here we have four superheroes, captured by their arch-nemesis Rickshaw (hammily played by Dad of Dexter, James Remar) and locked in a run-down, deserted old town. Although, by ‘run-down’ I mean ‘boobytrapped’ and by deserted, I mean ‘full of murderous psychopaths and hostages’. What follows is like a Saw sequel or rip-off, except full of superheroes instead of regular people, crossed with The Warriors. With names like Charge, Cutthroat, Shadow and The Wall, they’re not exactly The Avengers, and their costumes look awful, but at least they’ve tried, and it does lend the film an air of Kick-Ass/Phoenix Jones gritty realism. And then James Remar appears again in another scenery-chewing cameo, and we’re firmly back in comic book territory.
In spite of its low budget, weak and uninspired cast, All Superheroes Must Die manages to be worth this comic book and horror film fan’s time. It’s energetic, fast-paced and enjoyably violent. Given its low budget, it’s unsurprising that there are no superpowers to be found here, although it apparently wasn’t always that way. There’s an odd decision to have the heroes wake up robbed of their powers – no invisibility for Shadow, invincibility for The Wall or speed for Cutthroat. It would have made more sense for the kids to be the powerless Kick-Ass/Punisher brand of hero – although I suppose then Trost would have had to explain why they all seem so untrained and useless. Superheroes in name only, they seem to have no compunction with killing and are utterly terrible when it comes to saving hostages. There’s a payoff, towards the end, but better writing and direction could have incorporated it better more skillfully into the film. Both those faults can be laid at the feet of writer, director, producer and star Jason Trost, who tries his best, bless him, but comes up just a little lacking. Hopefully we’ll get to see him improve upon the strong foundations of this film with its already announced sequel.
A movie after my own heart, All Superheroes Must Die never really stood a chance against the great big fanboy hype machine in my own head. Taken on its own merits though, it’s a lot of fun. Dark, gritty, ambitious and a lot of fun , it really is rather super.
Video and Audio:
It looks and sounds as cheap as it no doubt was to make, but that just makes its ambition seem even more admirable.
There’s the choice of an introduction by writer/director/star Jason Trost, or the enjoyably weird Grindhouse-esque superhero trailers of Cultastrophe. Then there’s a Q&A session, filmed at Toronto After Dark festival, and the four four-part Blood Beasts, which also stars Trost.