Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 20th, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: Australia / USA, 1981
Director: Michael Laughlin
Writers: Bill Condon, Michael Laughlin
Cast: Michael Murphy, Louise Fletcher, Dan Shor, Fiona Lewis, Arthur Dignam, Dey Young, Marc McClure, Scott Brady, Charles Lane, Elizabeth Cheshire, Beryl Te Wiata, Jim Boelsen
BluRay released: March 11th, 2014
Approximate running times: 101 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English
BluRay Release: Severin Films
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.95
Dead Kids is the directorial debut of Michael Laughlin who also co-wrote the screenplay with Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters, Kinsey, Dreamgirls). The plot for Dead Kids revolves around controversial medical experiments that are turning the local teen’s murders’. The story is set in a sleepy rural town that is murder and relatively free of crime. The rash of killings catches the town’s undermanned police force off guard. The plot eventually reveals that these experiments on the teens are part of larger revenge plot against police Chief John Brady.
The plot for Dead Kids is pretty straight forward with very few surprises or moments were the story loses focus. The film’s most memorable scene is during a costume party in which Lou Christie’s “Lightning Strikes”. Also is you look closely everyone at the party is dressed as famous television characters. On the audio commentary co-writer Bill Condon makes an interesting observation how the 1998 film Disturbing Behavior bears a strong resemblance to Dead Kids.
The cast features many familiar faces like Michael Murphy (Count Yorga, Vampire), Louise Fletcher (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), Jim Boelsen (The Curious Case of the Campus Corpse), Dan Shor (TRON), Dey Young (Rock ‘n’ Roll High School) and Marc McClure who is most remembered as Jimmy Olson from Christopher Reeve the Superman films. The film’s standout performance is Fiona Lewis as the diabolical Gwen Parkinson whose experiments are turning the teens into killers’. All around all the performances are very good. It is interesting to note that Klaus Kinski was the original choice for Dr Le Sangel, a role which eventually went to Arthur Dignam.
The film’s score was composed by Tangerine Dream who composed many memorable score in the 1980’s for film’s like Thief, Risky Business, Legend and Near Dark. Over the years Dead Kids has been released in shorter and cropped version’s that drastically affect the plot’s overall impact. The version included for this release is the film’s full length version and in its original aspect ratio which showcases the film’s picturesque photography. Ultimately Dead Kids is an effective thriller that fans of 1980’s horror films will thoroughly enjoy.
Dead Kids comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. And for this release brand new HD transfer has been sourced from the film’s original negative. Colors look more vibrant than ever, black and contrast levels look consistently great, details look sharp and there are no issues with compression or DNR. When compared to previous releases this new transfer blows them all away.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD Mono mix in English. Dialog always comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced and robust when its needs too. The second audio option is a isolated audio track for the films score.
Extras for this release include the film’s U.S. trailer (1 minute 45 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), international trailer (3 minutes 18 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), a featurette titled ‘The Effects of Strange Behavior’ – a interview with special make-up effects Craig Reardon (20 minutes 32 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) and two audio commentaries, the first one with co-writer Bill Condon, actors Dan Shor and Dey Young and the second audio commentary with director co-writer / director Michael Laughlin.
Topics discussed in the interview with Craig Reardon include how he got involved with the film and how he overcame the many difficulties that arose due to him being hired 5 days before filming began. Both audio commentaries are exceptional every area of the production is covered in great detail. Extras new to this release include the interview with Craig Reardon and the audio commentary with Michael Laughlin.
Also included with this combo release is a DVD that contains the same contents that is present on the BluRay counterpart. Overall Dead Kid’s gets it best home video release to date from Severin Films.