Review Date: January 4, 2001
Released by: Dragon Entertainment
Release date: 2/25/2001
Region 0, PAL
Full Frame 1.33:1
Australia, 1837 - Psychotic killer Kavendish (Tim Aris
) and his cellmate Matt Lunus (Chris Baz
) have just escaped from the penal colony at Port Arthur. As they make their way down the coast towards civilization, Lunus becomes more and more paranoid about his accomplice, having heard rumors that Kavendish had brutally killed and devoured his companions during a previous escape attempt. Finally, after Lunus manages to get himself caught in an animal trap, Kavendish decides he's hungry and bashes in the poor guy's skull, devouring his brain. Afterwards, the killer massacres a military outpost and escapes home free.
Australia, 1995 - Ruby Jenkinstein (Genevieve Morris
) and her associate, former Nazi scientist Professor Dog-Reutter (John Xintavelonis
), are working on a project investigating whether reincarnation is fact or fiction. They're using Ruby's boyfriend, ill-mannered slaughterhouse worker Corbet (also Tim Aris
), as a test subject and have been subjecting him to hypnosis, where he has reverted to a past life - that of Kavendish! Corbet tells them the story of how he and Lunus escaped and how he then murdered the poor guy. The three look up Kavendish in a history book and find out that the whole story is true .
Later, Ruby takes Corbet to meet her mother (Josephine Lee
), a bitchy, wheelchair bound hag with a mammoth tapeworm protruding from her stomach. When Ruby's father died, she tried to kill herself by drinking caustic soda and throwing herself off the stairs, but it didn't work and now she's just paralyzed and really, really mean. The woman proceeds to make Corbet's brief visit miserable. Afterwards, they go out to dinner with some friends, and Corbet begins to display some unusual behaviors - such as wanting to eat raw meat!
The two researchers hypnotize Corbet again, and, as Kavendish, he tells them the story of how he took up residence in a small village to plot revenge on a woman who had wronged him. After Corbet returns to consciousness, he begins to show even more strange behaviors, including being very moody and aggressive, and displaying an even stronger attraction towards raw meat. Ruby becomes nervous with the research, but Professor Dog-Reutter is determined to continue. Unfortunately, neither of them realizes that the spirit of Kavendish has entered Corbet, and boy is he hungry!
Back from the Dead
is a fairly obscure Australian horror-comedy that few people seem to have ever heard of. Connoisseurs of gore cinema will find plenty to love about this movie, since director Craig Godfrey finds almost every excuse in the book to let loose with everything the special effects man has, including eye gougings, stabbings, throat slittings, arteries spurting, an overeager dentist pulling teeth, and one immortal image of Kavendish sucking someone's brain through a straw, all presented in an outrageously wacky manner. The whole movie is soaked in blood, and the climax, which pits the possessed Corbet against Ruby's mother, has to be seen to be believed, with everything from a chisel, a ball-point pen and a bunch of hurled records being used to inflict bodily harm.
Unfortunately, the humor doesn't come across nearly as well as the violence. Although a comparison to Peter Jackson is inevitable (he's even mentioned on the back of the DVD cover), I didn't find the film to be nearly as sickly funny as any Jackson's gross-out films. There really doesn't seem to be much wit in the writing, and many of the jokes, such as Professor Dog-Reutter getting excited and accidentally exclaiming "Mein Fuhrer!", have already been done to death. The film's toilet humor doesn't have much of an effect, either, relying on recycled gags based on flatulence and other bodily functions. I love a good gross-out moment, but most of the sick stuff here is just plain boring and uninspired. There are a couple of bits in the movie that are quite funny, but overall I didn't find myself laughing all that much while watching it.
Overall, Back from the Dead
is pretty much a misfired attempt . Gorehounds will no doubt like it a lot, but aside from the free-flowing blood, the film doesn't have much to recommend to it.
This is an import DVD from Germany in the PAL video format, which means that most people in North America, which uses the NTSC format, will not be able to view this on their TVs without special equipment. The review of the image quality is broken into two sections, one for NTSC televisions (video signal converted from PAL with my DVD player) and one for playback on computer monitors (where the video format is not an issue).
Back from the Dead
is presented in 1.33:1, and since the film was apparently shot on high-definition video, the aspect ratio is certainly correct.
(PAL-NTSC with Sampo DVE-620 player) - The image quality was very good. Since the movie shot on video, two major sources of image problems, grain and print damage, are virtually eliminated (I did notice some specks in several places, so I'm guessing that the movie was transferred to film stock at some point). The image looked very sharp with good colors. Some occasional MPEG artifacts were visible, and some of the dark scenes looked way too dark, but those were the only issues.
(Cyberlink PowerDVD 3.0) - The image quality here was even better. Colors were just as good looking, and the image retained a somewhat better level of clarity than on the TV presentation. On the downside, some parts of the film still looked a little dark, and some pixelation was still noticeable, but it was hardly a major issue.
The sound is in English Dolby 2.0. No distortion of any kind was evident, and the soundtrack was clear and vibrant. Optional English and German subtitles are included. Despite a fair number of misspellings and grammatical errors, the English subtitles will be fairly useful to you if you're not from down under yourself, since the accents of the actors are a little hard to understand.
There are no extras included.
A nice-quality DVD from Dragon, although with this title usually selling for around $30 from importers, purchasing is a bit of a risk considering the film's quality. If you're feeling adventurous or are a fan of gore films, you'll probably want to add this to your collection, but everyone else should be a bit wary.
Movie – C
TV Image Quality – B+
Monitor Image Quality - A-
Sound – B+
Supplements – N/A
- Running Time - 1 hour 28 minutes
- 1 Disc
- 6 Chapter Stops
- English Dolby Digital 2.0
- German and English subtitles