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Genius Products presents
Dead Mary (2006)

"Nobody is cutting anybody's hands off!"
- Kim (Dominique Swain)

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: February 19, 2007

Stars: Dominique Swain
Other Stars: Maggie Castle, Marie Josee Colburn, Michael Majeski, Steve McCarthy, Reagan Pasterniak, Jefferson Brown
Director: Robert Wilson

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, horror violence)
Run Time: 01h:43m:06s
Release Date: February 20, 2007
UPC: 796019798242
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B+B-B- C-

DVD Review

Straight-to-DVD horror titles—the rare good ones, that is—already have a hard enough time getting noticed without being burdened by some bad cover art. Case in point with Dead Mary, an above average variant in the group-of-friends-in-the-woods-with-something-evil genre from director Robert Wilson (Warriors of Terra), a film that gets tagged with a real dud of a cover that does nothing to convey the slow burn of the mood and tempo. Too bad, I say.

Wilson doesn't necessarily reinvent anything new here in terms of the basics, even as sort of a blend of The Big Chill, Evil Dead and The Thing, but that's okay. What he does do is tell the story without all the gimmicks we've come to know and expect from run-of-the-mill genre flicks, choosing to let it all unfold slowly. As horror movie watchers, we've sadly become conditioned to wait for the jump scares, and Wilson teases us like they're about to come, but they don't. Or at least not always. And it's that against-the-norm pacing that makes Dead Mary stand out from its less creative brethren.

A group of college friends—now hitting their late twenties—plan a reunion weekend at a desolate cabin (naturally) to socialize, drink, and smoke pot. There's a little awkward tension in the group, in part because Kim (Dominique Swain) and Matt (Jefferson Brown) have just broken up, but that takes a backseat after a late night game of Dead Mary (say her name three times in a dark room in front of a mirror) appear to summon up the titular evil spirit.

If you're a horror fan, consider Dead Mary one of those way-under-the-radar titles, the kind likely to get unceremoniously overlooked or passed over. It's not a masterpiece by any stretch, but it's far from the cookie-cutter crapola that seems to pass for horror these days. A few characters die, one gets locked in a closet, and yet the evil just keeps a-coming. Wilson—who somehow avoids the obligatory nudity that most horror films seem to need—takes an unusually long time getting to the nasty stuff, though when it finally uncorks, there's reanimated corpses, raging paranoia, burning bodies, and a general sense of mistrust for all involved.

Not a great weekend for the folks in the movie, but pretty fun for the viewer.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Dead Mary has been issued in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, with the transfer falling a little short at key moments, yet looking decent at other times. Black levels are somewhat questionable, rendering shadows and darkness into some "what just happened?" sequences, while other times the minimal lighting creates some wonderfully creepy effects that look effective. Colors typically appear slightly muted, lacking any real vibrance. The print itself looks clean, with no nicks or debris evident.

For a straight-to-DVD low-budget title it's not wholly awful, just less than perfect.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: There's one audio choice, and it's an inconsistent Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix. Voice quality is fairly thin throughout, yet the sound effects make excellent use of the sub and rears. All the spooky sounds come across quite well, but the voices lack that same sort of punch, making the presentation a little lopsided.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring UKM: The Ultimate Killing Machine, Living Death, Troubled Waters
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Not a whole lot of supplemental material, with the main piece being The Making of Dead Mary (26m:11s), a combination of cast interviews, clips from the film, and a behind-the-scenes peek at a couple of the bloodier moments. Also included are a few trailers and a music video for the song We Are Here (04m:11s), performed by the band Evolved Monkey, which is featured in the film.

The disc is cut into 12 chapters, with no available subtitle options.

Extras Grade: C-

 

Final Comments

Dead Mary—tacky cover art and all—is a strangely paced horror flick that ends up being fairly dark and almost apocalyptic, combining parts of The Big Chill with The Thing. The laid back tempo may throw some people off, but once it kicks in things get bloody and weird. Just the way I like it.

Highly recommended.

 


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