Legion of the Dead DVD Review
Written by Steve Pattee
DVD released by The Asylum
Written and directed by Paul Bales
2005, Region 1 (NTSC), 85 minutes, Rated R
Courtney Clonch as Molly
Claudia Lynx as Aneh-Tet
Rhett Giles as Dr. Ben-David
Zach Galligan as Professor Swatek
Bruce Boxleitner as Sheriff Jones
Emily Falkenstein as Kevyn
When two stoners dirt biking across the California desert discover a hidden Egyptian tomb, they do what every full-blooded American stoner does. They investigate. And, like every full-blooded American horror movie, they die a horrible death.
Shortly after, a team of archeologists is brought in to verify that it is, indeed, an Egyptian tomb. All the signs seem to point to "yes," as there are numerous mummies and the standard hieroglyphics on the walls. But the fact that the tomb is located in California seems to be a little odd. However, a little carbon-dating and a half-assed excuse clears everything up; it is indeed the final resting place of Aneh-Tet — hottie Egyptian priestess.
As things generally go, there is no final resting place for mummies, especially in the movies. And, as things also generally go, mummies never arise from their slumber to find a cure for cancer and bring about world peace. No, sir. They always have a plan, and the power, to take over the earth.
So you know when Aneh-Tet wakes up, the party is about to start.
First and foremost, a statement to low-budget movie makers:
Stop with the CGI. If you don't have the resources to make it look good, don't do it. Period.
One of the most frustrating things about Dead, even overlooking the fact there is an Egyptian tomb in California, is whenever Aneh-Tet (Claudia Lynx) killed one of her victims, these miniature lightening bolts would come from her fingertips. They looked so bad, it was almost comical. And the worst part is the actual dead bodies were decent looking. At least one death was done by CGI, and it looked okay, so I knew they were capable of making kills passable with CGI. It was just those damn lightning bolts that hurt the others.
Another slight disappointment in the film was Asylum favorite Rhett Giles' (War of the Worlds, Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter's Cover) performance as Dr. Ben-David, a German. I don't know where Giles hails from, but his German accent is horrible.That’s disappointing, because I know Giles is a better actor than this.
Yet, Dead does have some positives.
The first is newcomer Courtney Clonch, as Molly. Clonch is a natural to the camera and is more than believable as the archeologist uncovering the secrets of the tomb. I was surprised to see Dead as the first full-length film on her IMDB résumé — she was that good.
Emily Falkenstein, as Molly's kid sister, Kevyn, also is a natural to the camera. Even though their characters have completely different personalities, Clonch and Falkenstein are quite believable as siblings. Like Clonch, this is also Falkenstein's first full-length film. Kudos to the casting directors for finding these two diamonds not-so in the rough.
Another gem is Claudia Lynx as Aneh-Tet. Apparently, Egyptian priestesses didn't have much time for clothes because, from the moment Aneh-Tet awakens, she spends most of her time topless. Hey, if I'm going to get eviscerated, it would be nice if an attractive, topless Egyptian princess did the eviscerating. According to the commentary, Lynx is the "Angelina Jolie" of Iran, and that's easy to believe.
Bruce Boxleitner (Tron, TV's "Babylon 5") has a small role in the film, as Sheriff Jones , but he and Giles share one of the more memorable scenes in the movie.
Even with its flaws, Dead does have moments in which it shines, making it more than enjoyable on occasion. However, the bad CGI and plot holes keep it from becoming anything more than your slightly below average low-budget film.
Video and Audio:
Dead's anamorphic presentation is, for the most part, clean. There are, however, instances of macroblocking — particularly during night scenes.
The DVD's 5.1 surround sound mix is solid, right up to the end. A lot of use is made from the sides and rears — at one point, during a storm scene, I almost checked to see if it was raining outside. However, at the end, it appears that in at least one outside scene, the actors' voices were dubbed and there was one occasion where the mix in the rear cut out hard. But, otherwise, it's a great mix for a low-budget movie.
Unfortunately, the special features are lacking, and what it does have is the standard fare.
A commentary by director Paul Bales, editor Bill Shaffer, stars Clonch and Giles, like most Asylum commentaries, is well worth a listen. Bales keeps the discussion on topic and asks all the right questions to keep it informative, as well. It's lighthearted and never gets too technical. Admittedly, I do not listen to commentaries unless I'm reviewing the movie, but it's tracks like this that make it worth my time.
There is a behind-the-scenes featurette, which doesn't offer much as far as "behind the scenes," but is worth at least one glance for the camaraderie on the set.
Also included are trailers for Frankenstein Reborn, H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds, Hide and Creep, Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter's Cover and Legion of the Dead.
This isn't one of the better releases from The Asylum by a long shot, but it does have its moments and is worth a Wednesday night rental.