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The Screaming Dead

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    Ian Jane
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  • Screaming Dead, The

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    Released by: E.I./Shock-O-Rama
    Released on: 3/30/2004
    Director: Brett Piper
    Cast: Misty Mundae, A. J. Khan, Rachel Robbins, Kevin G. Shinnick, Rob Monkiewicz, Heidi Kristoffer, Joseph Ferrell, C. J. DiMarsico
    Year: 2003
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    E.I.'s first foray into a straight horror film (as opposed to the softcore sex parodies that they're best known for) has its heart in the right place and it tries really hard, but sadly sort of fizzles out despite a few highlights here and there. But let's start from the beginning…

    When the movie opens, an unidentified young lady (A. J. Kahn) is strapped to a rack in a torture chamber where a photographer named Roger Neal (Joseph Ferrell) greedily snaps away, taking pictures of her, shall we say, stressful situation. From here we learn that this is all staged, it's part of Roger's motif as an artist, he specializes in fetishy bondage photos and does quite well for himself with this material. Roger goes about setting up his next shoot by hiring three pretty ladies (Misty Mundae, Heidi Kristoffer and C. J. DiMarsico) to accompany him to an abandoned hospital where he'll take even more provocative photos of them but what he doesn't realize is that a killer is on the loose and he's got a taste for young female flesh!

    The problem is, while Roger may not have realized it, the audience surely does. Despite the fact that there is a fair amount of fine female skin on display, the movie is so completely predictable and poorly scripted that we know exactly where it's going before the characters in the movie do. Therefore, there's no suspense.

    Brett Piper paces the movie well enough, things happen quickly, but the low budget effects don't do the film any favors. One thing that the movie really does have going for it is the location. The movie was shot in an actual abandoned hospital and it is just as creepy a setting as you'd expect it to be. The cameras do a pretty good job of capturing the naturally odd ambience that this setting provides and because of that, the movie looks really good and gives the impression that it is a more lavish production than it actually is. The other bonus is that the girls are cute. Base as it may sound, it's more enjoyable to watch attractive young women running around than unattractive fat buys and E.I. knows this and capitolizes on it. There's a market for this type of horror movie and they've very much catered to it with this movie.

    In the end, it's a shame that The Screaming Dead wasn't more than it turned out to be. It had a great set, a nice looking cast and a filmmaker who has proven himself capable of turning in some decent low budget fare before and after - unfortunately this one just didn't come together.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The 1.33.1 fullscreen video on this release looks better than most Seduction Cinema title. There's a bit of video noise and a few spots where the lighting could have been a bit better but overall this is a pretty solid effort in the video department. Colors look good, black levels stay strong and flesh tones, as important as they are in a movie such as this, come through looking life like and natural - as it should be. There's some mild line shimmering in a few spots but no problems with mpeg compression artifacts and there's a reasonably good level of both foreground and background detail present in the image. Nice job.

    This DVD has a no frills Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix in English, no closed captioning or subtitle options have been made available. The dialogue, which is minimal, is clean and clear and free of any hiss or distortion. There are no audible defects in the mix though there are one or two spots where the levels are off just a little bit where the dialogue gets a tiny bit buried. Nothing too serious though, overall The Screaming Dead sounds find to my ears.

    Say what you will about the film, but E.I. has not skimped on the supplements for this release. The best of the supplements is a featurette entiteld From Skin To Scream that takes a look at Misty Mundae's career from the early days up to the point where this film was completed. Anyone who enjoys her talents ought to find this of interest, there are some neat interview clips and film clips in here and it gives us a nice crash course in the history of the phenomena that is Ms. Mundae.

    Inside The Asylum is another interesting featurette that takes a look at the hospital where the movie was shot. Using plenty of old photos and archival bits and pieces this segment lets us get a feel for the location on which the film was shot and which is the most impressive aspect of the production. It's a creepy old building, and it was a good choice for a horror film set. E. I. even supplies an interview with a patient who spent time in the hospital while it was operational. Very cool.

    Up next is a lengthy series of interviews with the cast and crew. The principal performers and Mr. Piper sit down in front of the camera to talk about the movie and their respective roles in seeing the film to completion. It becomes obvious through these interviews that everyone had a blast on set and that they all get along like old friends, which is nice to see and hear about, it's just a shame that the enthusiasm for the finished product isn't as contagious as I think they all would have liked.

    A booklet of liner notes and some trailers round out the extra features along with footage from the NYC Premiere of the film and some clips from a Fangoria Weekend Of Horrors Convention.

    The Final Word:

    While it's obvious that everyone involved in making the movie had a great time doing it, the end results are, unfortunately, pretty dismal. Misty Mundae completists will no doubt already own this one but unless you count yourself in that lot, The Screaming Dead is one to pass on, even if E.I. did do a really good job on the DVD itself.
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