The Video Dead Blu-ray Review
Written by ZigZag
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Written and directed by Robert Scott
1987, Region A, 90 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on February 19th, 2013
Roxanna Augensen as Zoe Blair
Rocky Duvall as Jeff Blair
Vickie Bastel as April Ellison
Jennifer Miro as The Woman
Michael St. Michaels as Henry Jordan
The Blair family has recently bought a new house and while mom and dad are away on an extended stay in Saudi Arabia (?!), siblings Jeff and Zoe arrive to unpack their belongings and await their parents’ return. Zoe is in college, majoring in aerobics with a minor in music videos (seriously) and Jeff is a teen with little on his mind but girls, especially his attractive neighbor April. When a junky television in the attic beckons Jeff to watch, he is treated to an awkward sex dream with a “beautiful” woman who momentarily emerges from the set before disappearing again for a surprise conclusion to their encounter.
Any other time the tube is on it is showing an old zombie movie, but the ghouls don’t stay contained in TV land for long and soon the shuffling dead are cruising the neighborhood for blood. These corpses can communicate with each other and operate appliances, but they don’t spend a lot of time eating their prey. Mr. Daniels arrives on the scene and explains that he has been hunting these creatures since he left Texas and knows how to stop them. He advises everyone never to show fear in order to evade the monsters and then takes Jeff into the woods to put a stop to this nightmare. Zoe stays behind, but soon must defend herself as the house comes under attack.
This is just about everyone’s first (and in many cases only) film, including lead actors Roxanna Augensen and Rocky Duvall as the Blair siblings. Both are competent in their roles, but neither leaves a lasting impression. Vickie Bastel (Bad Lieutenant) is sympathetic as April, the neighbor with family issues and the token nudity is provided here by obscure genre vet Jennifer Miro, who appeared in director Rinse Dream’s stylized erotic comedy Dr. Caligari (1989). Acting is consistent across the board, but nobody really stands out as someone to watch, so the zombies become the focus of attention by default. Fortunately, Dale Hall’s effects are the film’s strong suit and receive ample screen time.
The Video Dead is low-budget horror comedy that is neither scary nor funny, but it is somewhat entertaining. Writer/ director Robert Scott provides all of the necessary elements for a successful horror movie including blood, boobs and beasts and has fun along the way. The material is never taken too seriously and he manages to find deliver some original ideas into the rapidly decaying zombie subgenre. The film comes up short in the end, but not from a lack of trying. Scott throws every one of his limited dollars on the screen, but never fools the audience into believing this is little more than a novice production.
Video and Audio:
The Video Dead is presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Colors are generally soft and muted, while black levels are fairly solid. There is a fine layer of film grain present throughout and small item detail is frequently sharp.
Shout! Factory offers an uninspired DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio lossless audio mix and a more traditional DTS HD 2.0 MA track that preserves the original stereo presentation. The newly expanded track is limited by source materials, but it is nice to have the option. Dialogue is clear and free from distortion. English subtitles are provided.
Shout! Factory provides a generous amount of supplemental materials for a pair of lesser known titles and fans will be surprised by some of these treats on display.
The Video Dead scores two commentary tracks with members of the cast and crew. The first features director Robert Scott, editor Bob Sarles and effects creator Dale Hall Jr., but despite having three people in the room, there are frequent gaps as everyone quietly watches the film. Far more entertaining is the second option where cast members Roxanna Augesen and Rocky Duvall are joined by production manager Jacques Thelemaque and make-up assistant Patrick Denver. This recording is much more lively and highlighted by the actors as they stroll down memory lane with this, their only film appearance.
Pre-Recordead (12 minutes) is an interview segment with makeup effects creator Dale Hall Jr. and his assistant Patrick Denver. Tales of low-budget cinema are brought to light as the two reflect on the challenges and resourceful solutions created on set. Shout! Factory enthusiasts will recognize Denver from his interview segment on the recent release of Prison and rejoice as he continues to share fun tales here.
Outtakes (2 minutes) a self-explanatory collection of goofs captured on VHS during production.
A behind-the-scenes stills gallery and promotional artwork are also provided in addition to the film’s original theatrical trailer.