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New Movie Review

"Dying Breed" DVD

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Dying Breed DVD cover

by Steve Anderson

All right, folks--strap in and brace yourself, because it's that special time of year again. Never mind that it seems to come at a different time every year, because even though it does, it still comes, and that's good enough.

It's After Dark Horrorfest time again, folks, and the time of year when horror buffs get to feel their mojo the very hardest. This time around, we're kicking things off with Dying Breed, a story that makes dinner time fun time once again.

While hunting for a rare tiger in the depths of Tasmania, four adventurous types discover the town of Sarah, formerly the home of the cannibalistic monster known as the Pieman. This would be bad enough under normal circumstances--stumbling across a lost town in the middle of nowhere that was the former home of a cannibal isn't exactly the thing you do on vacation. But here's where it gets worse; seems the town took a liking to the Pieman's way of life...and began to favor the long pig themselves.

Oh...and they're also needing fresh "breeding stock".

This is actually the kind of movie that Australians seem to flock to in droves--it reminds me greatly of Wolf Creek and I hoped and prayed going in that this wasn't going to suck anywhere near as hard as that miserable wreck did. And gratefully, it didn't. This isn't to say it was anything fantastic, but it definitely wasn't a complete waste of time. This is likely not the dog in the series.

What Dying Breed does not do well is scare anybody worth anything at all. This is really not scary. There's not a whole lot of blood, maybe a handful of jump scares, it's actually rather tame as horror movies go. With only a couple of exceptions this will be so sedate you'd think it'd qualify for PG-13 rank. This does change up somewhat in the last half hour of the movie, but aside from this it's actually pretty sedate.

However, what Dying Breed DOES do well is project malice. There is something very clearly wrong here--for the entire first hour you will be largely unable to shake the overwhelming feeling that there is SOMETHING very wrong here. Just what, who knows? And you won't know until the last half hour or so. This ultimate surprise is not so ultimate at all--there will actually be several of them before the end.

And the ending, meanwhile, will pack in tons of great surprises, so that's another plus in its account.

The special features include English and Spanish subtitles, a producer's trailer, a making of featurette, some Miss Horrorfest webisodes, and a collection of trailers to lead off--they're unaccessible from the disk, so you'll get to see them in the beginning if you don't skip over them.

All in all, the After Dark Horrorfest gets off to a fair start--let's just see how well it can hold up. Dying Breed starts out a bit slow, but turns out fairly well in the end.

You've got to hand it to The Tale of Despereaux--I thought going into this one that it'd be a cheesy Disney-esque fairy tale, but I was surprised to find that...I'd be surprised.

I may have expected some sad little kiddie story here, but what I actually got was a surprisingly heartwarming story with some carefully added morals and a few nifty surprises. I got the story of needles as swords, of scheming rats and cowardly mice (except for one that defies his own nature), and of a country that's entirely too fixated with soup. This was actually almost nominated for an Oscar, and frankly, it shows.

In The Tale of Despereaux, we find a bizarre royal accident, in which a rat manages to kill the queen of the land of Dor by landing in her bowl of soup. The king of Dor follows this up by declaring both soup AND rats to be illegal. From there, the entire country falls into a depression, and the rats go into hiding. The mice find little different in this new order and continue their lives of hiding inside Dor's walls. But Despereaux is a mouse who doesn't like this world order, and winds up exiled from the world he knew.

There's no doubt that this a kid movie that'll play with the best, but the grownups out there will get plenty of fun out of this too. It's a feel-good sort of movie with lots of excellent voice acting and a pretty dense plot. Oh, sure, grownups will easily notice some of the weak points here, but they'll likely not mind them much. That's part of the magic of The Tale of Despereaux--it plays to its strengths so hard that you'll scarcely notice the weaknesses.

So go grab a copy of this one--it's well worth your time.


Dying Breed
Directed by Jody Dwyer
Written by Michael Boughen, Rod Morris, Jody Dwyer
Starring Nathan Phillips, Leigh Whannell, Bille Brown, Mirrah Foulkes
Produced by Michael Boughen, Rod Morris
92 mins



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