So once again we have survived.

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

tn_dylandogDYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT is a semi-clever and watchable but also not all that great or original supernatural detective type deal. It’s like CONSTANTINE but not as well directed and with more jokes.

Brandon Routh plays the title character (well, the “Dylan Dog” part of the title; the “Dead of Night” part is played by various undead creatures). I’m not really clear if “Dog” is his last name or if it’s just a cool nick name. Nobody ever calls him “Dylan Doggy Dogg,” but it might be short for that. Anyway he’s a private eye who is in on the secret information that there are vampires, zombies and other monsters living among us.

mp_dylandogDylan actually used to be the chosen liaison between the living and the dead, but then some tragic shit happened with his wife or fiancee or something and he said “fuck this” and switched to regular old taking photos of people having affairs. But, like most independent business owners in this economy, he’s struggling. He needs money bad but he still tries to turn down a big case because it has that nasty wet werewolf smell all over it. He left all that behind for a reason, and not just racism against werewolves.

But of course he gets dragged in and as he reveals to his client what really goes on in the world we get to learn it too. It’s like that scene in the first BLADE where he says the world we live in is a sugar coated topping and explains all the secret vampire symbols and shit. Also it’s like BLADE because the vampires like to hang out at a dance club. If I was a vampire I’d be concerned about that stereotype.

Part of it also reminded me of BEETLEJUICE. It gets pretty cartoony. So yeah, picture a movie somewhere in between BLADE, CONSTANTINE and BEETLEJUICE, but with Superman in it, wearing a red shirt. And not as good as that. But not terrible.

There are some amusing ideas here and there: a vampire drug that uses a crack pipe filled with blood, an underground network of undead people that work in food service, a part where Dylan insults a werewolf by saying “You hit like a vampire!”

I thought Routh was pretty good as a Christopher Reeve lookalike in SUPERMAN RETURNS, but of course that turned out to be a one time deal, like George Lazenby as James Bond or the kid that played Harry Potter in part 5 while Daniel Radcliffe was in Afghanistan. It would be kind of sad to just be known as the actor who came out of nowhere to be in this huge movie playing Superman and then it didn’t really catch on. 20 years later he’s playing a stepdad in some shitty TV movie and people are still coming up to him on the street saying “Hey, Superman! I totally forgot about you! You were Superman, that’s hilarious! Do a Superman pose next to me! Oh, come on, please? Fuck you then. Why do you think you’re so great? That movie sucked! I preferred STEEL!” So I’m happy for him that he’s getting at least halfway decent roles where he can show his range. Here he seems more like Tom Cruise than Christopher Reeve, actually. He’s a fast-talking, sarcastic knowitall kind of guy. He has some range.

Dylan has a sidekick played by Sam Huntington, who according to my detailed research is the same dude who played Jimmy Olsen in the SUPERMAN picture. So that’s weird. Also weird is that he wears the same type of hat that Shia LaBeouf wore as the sidekick in CONSTANTINE and I, ROBOT. He is this generation’s Shia LaBeouf, now that the original Shia LaBeouf is too old and washed up. He works for Dylan and wants to be his partner but Dylan shuts him down and is cold to him. In fact, he doesn’t even tell him about monsters existing and all that shit. But it’s really because he’s trying to protect him. Once he becomes a zombie their relationship gets much better.

Peter Stormare and Taye Diggs both have pretty good but not very memorable roles as prominent figures in the monstro-american community. My favorite supporting character is Wolfgang played by the wrestler Kurt Angle. He’s just kind of a working class type dude who happens to turn into a hairy monster guy. I didn’t actually know him from WWE but I liked him in this. He also got the most full-fledged fight scene.

The writers, Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer, previously did SAHARA (heard it was pretty good), A SOUND OF THUNDER (heard it was hilariously terrible), and about a hundred and fifty upcoming adaptations and remakes and shit including CONAN THE BARBARIAN, UNCHARTED, DOCTOR STRANGE, VOLTRON and probly RIPTIDE or 60 MINUTES and maybe MARBLES and its spin-off CHINESE CHECKERS. This one they adapted from an ’80s Italian comic book, but from the pictures they got in this here internet it looks like the comic book would’ve worked better done by some giallo director in the ’70s. I’m guessing the tone is a little dryer and less goofy. Then again they got a guy who looks like Groucho Marx as the sidekick.

(By the way there’s some connection with this and CEMETERY MAN. The comic strip character was modeled after Rupert Everett and then in that movie Rupert Everett was dressed as Dylan Dog but he was playing a character from a book by the same writer that appeared sometimes in the comic book but was actually a separate character than Dylan Dog or something… I don’t know, but you guys can explain it to me in the comments before you start talking about Batman again.)

The director’s name is Kevin Munroe and his previous directing credits are TMNT (computer animated turtle movie) and some video game. Funny, JONAH HEX was directed by a guy who had only done HORTON HEARS A WHO. I guess so much for the “computer animation director + first live action movie + cult comic book character” formula. We’ll see what happens when it’s Pixar guys adapting pulp stories or sequelizing TV show adaptations.

Anyway the director’s lack of track record explains the somewhat cheesy feel, but actually with that in mind he did a surprisingly good job. It’s a pretty low budget movie at $20 million, but I might’ve guessed lower. I don’t know. It definitely feels like a b-minus movie, and has some especially dumb looking werewolves. But it moves at a good pace, it doesn’t meander. He looks out the window to a tree, cut to him up a ladder in the tree finding evidence. It has some momentum to it which is sadly rare in these type of movies these days.

And most of all I like that it doesn’t all come down to a good vs. evil type deal. Yeah, there’s a magic cross that they’re trying to get to, I don’t remember, take over the world or New Orleans or something. But it’s all about how there’s a truce between men and monsters, and Dylan is trying to keep the different monster clans from fighting each other too much, and some of the characters sort of make up with him. I’m a sucker for that type of shit, I guess.

I can’t really recommend expending effort to see this movie, but in my opinion if you are laying there and it’s on cable and it’s too much of a pain in the ass to find the remote, or if it’s on a plane or in a jail or something it might amuse you. I thought it was okay. If I was on Rotten Tomatoes I would totally bring that 3% rating up to, like, 3.04% or something.

To be clear, he is not a dog, that is just his last name. Not sure if I got that across or not. It’s not like Marmaduke or something, it is a human movie.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011 at 11:45 pm and is filed under Comic strips/Super heroes, Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

24 Responses to “Dylan Dog: Dead of Night”

  1. nananananana BATMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!!

    no I’m joking, I wonder if CHINESE CHECKERS is gonna be like Big Trouble In Litle China but with a magic boardgame?

  2. The comic actually started out as a really bland, jokey supernatural detective series that wouldn’t have seemed out of place on the WB or CW or whatever. From the ‘Memories from the Invisible World’ storyline onward, though, it turned into a great mind-bending surrealist horror thing.

    Guess they decided to drop the surrealism angle for the movie. Shame.

  3. this movie needs more Anna Falchi’s incredible nude body

  4. Griff, that’s a redundant statement because EVERY movie needs more Anna Falchi’s incredible nude body.

  5. I thought this one had enough clever or funny ideas in it that it’s overall mediocrity was extra disappointing. There was potential for this to be a really fun horror comedy. Instead, it’s kinda tone deaf and sloppily made and sort of haphazardly bounces around to a few good scenes and a lot more boring ones.

    Also, I agree about the tragedy of Brandon Routh; poor guy probably thought he was going to be the next big thing. Somebody should get him on a television show or something. Unfortunately, this time he’s miscast. It’s clear from his gruff voiceover and his tortured backstory and whatnot that Dylan is supposed to be a sorta noir-ish, grizzled, jaded badass type hero, but Routh is way too open faced and boy scoutish and affable and it leads to a lot of weird tonal problems throughout the film.

  6. Nabroleon Dynamite

    August 3rd, 2011 at 8:03 am

    Did they really have a Harry Potter replacement or is that classic Vern? I don’t cuz other than my laptop, I don’t fuck with that HP shit!!

    Pixar doing a TV show or an adaption of some shit would actually be dope in my opinion.

  7. Nabroleon Dynamite

    August 3rd, 2011 at 8:12 am

    A “Know” between don’t and cuz would of been nice.

  8. I keep meaning to download this illegally and when I say that I mean, buy from a reputable online store legitimately.

    It does sound, from your review, Vern, and others I’ve seen, that the low, low budget really killed this off and that’s kind of a shame.

    By the way, anyone on here seen a DTV flick from 2009 called THE BLEEDING?

    Similar kind of concept, interesting cast (DMX, Vinnie Jones, Michael Madsen, Armand Assante), and again, the lack of any real money really stops it from being more fun than it perhaps should have been.

    Or maybe it’s just shit. I’m really not sure.

  9. Karlos,

    The budget is definitely a problem here, with a few of the major set pieces not really working because they didn’t really have the money for it. But also I think enough of the scenes are awkwardly staged, or the tone seems off, that maybe Munroe just isn’t a very good director and this still wouldn’t have worked with a $100 million budget.

    I’m thinking specifically of that scene near that end where Dylan has big shoot out with a bunch of monsters, and there’s a cool idea where it’s all done in one shot, with the camera pointed at Dylan as he walks down a hallway. So the idea is that all we see is Dylan shooting a series of guns, and as the shot tracks back we see more and more bodies piling up in the hall. Again, nifty idea, but it looks chintzy and it’s framed too tightly so you don’t really get a sense of all the chaos, and then I think they even did that thing where they made it slomo is post production and it looks all weird and choppy. The scene seems like it was designed to make a cool shootout on a low budget, but it’s so poorly handled that it just falls flat.

  10. Kurt Angle is also gonna be in that upcoming movie Warrior. Interesting to see old crazy eyes getting into acting (though apparently acting like a fighter).

    And A Sound of Thunder is indeed hilariously terrible.

  11. I never had a problem with Brandon Routh in SR, and thought even if they’d NOT been going for Christopher Reeve in the performance he’d have been good, and I’ve liked him in everything I’ve seen him in(and he stole his scenes in SCOTT PILGRIM). He’s just not an actor I ever really think of when there’s a role that needs casting. I’ve seen the trailer for Dylan Dogg and it came across to me as being slightly dated. Just something about the fashion and hairstyles and effects, it struck me like the early seasons of ANGEL rather than a present day movie.

    “Interesting to see old crazy eyes getting into acting (though apparently acting like a fighter).”
    Angle’s been doing some DTV stuff, actually.
    http://youtu.be/X5KFBbUsBSQ

  12. Teddy Jack Eddy

    August 3rd, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    LOL!!! Listen…NOBODY who plays Superman EVER thinks they are going to be the next big thing!!! Christ, every interview with Reeve about the job stated how he was just glad to be working with cool actors. Even Routh said, at the outset, that it was just a job. And in recent interviews he kind of laughs about the whole SUPERMAN RETURNS failure thing.

    Listen, these actors are just people and they are WAY more interested in their wives and children and private lives. You really need to be a sicko to be rubbing your hands together hoping that a movie will make you a star!!! LOL!!!!!!!!!

  13. Knox Harrington

    August 4th, 2011 at 4:27 am

    I don’t really agree about the budget thing. Granted, I haven’t seen Dylan Dog, so I don’t know the scale they were going for. But hell, The Losers was made for $25 million and had a very decent sense of scale and “production value” (I sound like that fat kid in Super 8. I’m not fat, though. You hear that, ladies?), even though some of the effects weren’t top notch.

    And of course There Will Be Blood was also made for a mere $25 million. I know these are different movies that all take place in completely seperate universes, but I’m pretty sure there’s a lot you can do with $20 million to make your movie not look cheap. And at the end of the day, basic filmmaking and storytelling know-how shouldn’t cost anything.

  14. Jareth Cutestory

    August 4th, 2011 at 7:21 am

    Knox: Apparently CEMETERY MAN was made for only $4 million. And while it’s obviously a low budget movie as far as props and make-up are concerned, the staging and tone don’t seem much impaired by lack of cash. In its own weird way it’s kind of a masterful film.

    I’m actually inclined to think that having too much money to play with might ruin an otherwise decent film.

  15. What I meant but didn’t get across is that $20 million is low for a studio movie, especially one with special effects, but it’s not a real “low budget movie.” There are so many horror classics made on a sliver of what this cost. That’s why I said I would’ve guessed it was cheaper than that. Although I’m sure a bigger budget would’ve helped them I don’t think that was the problem, I think what I pointed out about it being directed by an animator not experienced in live action is more relevant. I don’t know why but animators or effects guys turned directors don’t tend to have an overall good sense of visuals like you’d assume. (Tim Burton, Terry Gilliam and Guillermo Del Toro are big exceptions.)

  16. Jareth Cutestory

    August 4th, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    For the longest time I simply assumed that Sam Raimi came from a background in animation. It took three days for a team of dedicated Bruce Campbell fans with rubber hoses to deprogram me.

    Apparently Raimi also didn’t make that film HOUSE starring the Greatest American Hero.

  17. the Japanese House is like a Japanese Sam Raimi movie, except 100 times crazier

  18. Knox Harrington

    August 4th, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    I always think of that poor sod who directed Spawn when effects-guys-turned-directors are mentioned. I’m surprised they haven’t tried rebooting that one yet. Maybe Spawn is just a little too stuck in the 90’s.

  19. It’s interesting that you say he’s kind of got a Tom Cruise feel in this movie because I felt like he was trying to parody Tom Cruise with his character in Scott Pilgrim. Maybe he’s just kind of like Tom Cruise?

  20. Vern, you’re on fire in this one.

    “Or the kid that played Harry Potter in part 5 while Daniel Radcliffe was in Afghanistan.” Literally laughed out loud.

    “I prefered STEEL” and Marbles: The movie got me too. Actually, you had me at Riptide, then Marbles again.

  21. “We’ll see what happens when it’s Pixar guys adapting pulp stories ”
    JOHN CARTER?

  22. “or sequelizing TV show adaptations.”

    MISSION IMPOSSIBLE OMG!!!!

  23. Good to see Constantine mentioned positively. I actually thought that movie was pretty damn fun (though not like the comics). Cemetery Man is an amazing film that deserved to show on more big screens. Finally, (not a very well-written reply, folks) I vaguely remember an interview with the director of Dylan Dog saying the original budget was supposed to be significantly larger, so the scale of the movie had to toned down. Also, the studio wanted a lot of changes made to the tone of the flick. I’m still looking forward to it. Good job, Vern.

  24. Bah. If I was unclear: The budget got cut when they began to make DD.

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