Scream Factory never lets up, do they? While all of their output isn’t pure gold (I’m still recovering from TENTACLES), the fact is that the majority of the films that they release are given such a hands on approach to the film and special features to go with that to make most genre fans happy. Just this year, we’ve seen great releases of MAD MAX, CLASS OF 1984, and countless others, and before the year is over, we’ll be getting new editions of THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS and THE SENTINEL. Out today, in a brand new Bluray release, is Neil Marshall’s 2002 werewolf action film debut, DOG SOLDIERS, a film that is not only worth picking up just for the film itself, but for a brand new set of special features that really further illustrates how much time and effort SF spends giving fans what they want.
Bypassing the typical wolf bites someone and we follow the curse, DOG SOLDIERS has always been a werewolf film that does things as differently as possible. Taking a military approach and injecting a small group of soldiers into a full on fight with werewolves is an excellent idea and Marshall’s film really gets better with every viewing. Giving us a solid cast, full of great actors like Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones, LET US PREY), Sean Pertwee (DOOMSDAY, EQUILIBRIUM) and TRAINSPOTTING/Grey’s Anatomy star Kevin McKidd, the film, while having enough werewolf violence to please the die hard monster fans, is much more about the bond between soldiers and about finishing a mission they started. It’s a film about brotherhood, and when characters are injured or killed, it affects the entire group, something in today’s horror, seems lost. A lot of films today have somebody getting killed, the group weeps for two seconds and acts like nothing happens for the remainder of the film, but with DOG SOLDIERS, you really feel the brotherhood and bonds that the soldiers have, which makes the tension between the werewolves and themselves that much more anxiety-filled.
Stuck inside of the house of Megan, played very well by Emma Cleasby( Marshall’s DOOMSDAY and also recently seen in the exceptional Axelle Carolyn-helmed SOULMATE), the platoon finds themselves fighting for their lives and stuck inside four walls, a somewhat claustrophobic approach that Marshall would amplify to the maximum effect three later with THE DESCENT. DOG SOLDIERS, in some ways, plays perfectly with THE DESCENT, as it’s the flip side to that story. Where as THE DESCENT is about a sisterhood banding together and fighting creatures, DOG SOLDIERS is about the brotherhood between soldiers and their attempts to make it out of the situation alive. It’s already a horror classic, and rightfully so, it’s the perfect example of combining horror with drama, and the fact that it bypasses werewolf cliche’s like the transformation you see in every other lycanthrope film and opting not to spend time on the curse itself, Marshall offers up something truly original and lasting.
When it comes to the film’s transfer, this is where I could see some fans being a bit nit-picky. While Scream Factory does an excellent job with their HD transfers, DOG SOLDIERS still has that very grainy look to it, and that’s only due to the fact that it was shot on 16mm film, which gives it that look, and truthfully, I for one, enjoy the hell out of the transfer on this release and welcome that grainy, obviously shot on film look that it has.
When we see that lovely “COLLECTOR’S EDITION” displayed on top of certain Scream Factory’s releases, it’s obvious that there is going to be a good amount of goodies to check out, and DOG SOLDIERS is yet another release that proves just that.
- Audio Commentary with Director Neil Marshall – Marshall has always been a great storyteller, so when it comes to this commentary, you can expect different stories of the production and other things. A very entertaining commentary.
- THE MAKING OF DOG SOLDIERS – Now THIS is where it’s at. An hour long doc, full of interviews with Marshall, Kevin McKidd, Sean Pertwee, Emma Cleasby and TONS of others. It isn’t just each person kissing the film’s ass like a lot of docs tend to be, but recalling the experience, and it’s obvious from their stories that it was quite the experience for everyone involved. The highlight of the doc for me, is a story that Pertwee tells regarding the scene in which his character has been sliced open, and McKidd’s character tries to put his intestines back in and sew him shut. Wanting to REALLY be drunk, as his character is in the scene, Pertwee recalls having a little too much alcohol in between scenes to get into the scene, and when he yells at KcKidd to knock him out, he had told McKidd to REALLY punch him, and when he did, it broke Pertwee’s nose and really did the trick. Stories like that one and Marshall’s explanation of not wanting the film to be the same as every other werewolf film really makes this doc a must see.
- Neil Marshall’s short film COMBAT – A really neat early short film form Marshall, which shows that he’s always had the magic that he’s displayed in countless films, TV series and other mediums.
There are also still photo galleries, as well as a look at the model of the house the soldiers are stuck at in the film, all being good watches.
If you’re a fan of Marshall’s other work, of werewolves, or just looking for an entertaining film to pick up, this Collector’s Edition of DOG SOLDIERS is quite the release, and definitely one of my favorites Bluray releases of 2015 so far.