Yesterday, I called into work because my asthma was acting up and, in order to pass the time, I watched Dylan Dog: Dead of Night. To be honest, I probably should have just risked having another asthma attack and spent 108 minutes at work, answering the phone. It would have been a more productive use of my day.
Dylan Dog is based (quite loosely) on the same Italian comic book that inspired one of the best Italian horror films of all time, Dellamorte Dellamore. Brandon Routh gives a charisma-free performance as Dylan Dog, a New Orleans-based private investigator who is hired by a mysterious woman (Anita Briem) to investigate the circumstances of her father’s death. It turns out her father was killed by a werewolf and fortunately, Dylan is apparently an expert on New Orleans’ supernatural underground, including the decadent vampires that are led by Taye Diggs (who, seriously, deserves better than this movie.)
Dylan Dog: Dead of Night plays less like a movie and more like a greatest hits collection of other, better movies (and tv shows). We get werewolves and vampires going to war, we get an athletic blonde woman doing karate moves on a bunch of vampires, and we get a lot of casual decadence being committed by vampires who speak with Southern accents that just drip molasses. Now, I love True Blood, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of the shows that gave me the strength to survive a lot of hard times, and I’ve even got a girlcrush on Kate Beckinsale as a result of Underworld. But I’ve also got all of those wonderful shows on DVD. I can see them whenever I want. I didn’t spend $5.00 to rent Dylan Dog OnDemand just so I could see Dylan become the millionth film hero to walk in slow motion while firing two guns at the same time.
By all accounts, the film’s version of Dylan Dog has very little in common with the comic book version of Dylan Dog. It’s hard for me to say for sure because, while I’ve read and heard a lot about the Dylan Dog comic, I’ve never actually read it. Even if I could get my hands on a copy, it wouldn’t be much help since I’m not exactly fluent in Italian. This is what I assume to be true, strictly based on my own research:
1) The comic book Dylan Dog is a melancholy character who, despite dealing with the supernatural on a regular basis, also suffers from several irrational phobias of his own. The movie’s Dylan Dog is a blank-faced mannequin who utters useless quips and appears, in the tradition of American movie heroes, to have no fear.
2) The comic book Dylan Dog has an assistant who is a Groucho Marx imitator. The American Dylan Dog has an assistant who is a zombie. That assistant is well-played by Sam Huntington and he actually does have a few good moments but it’s still impossible to watch him and not wish he was a Groucho Marx imitator. (In the film’s defence, it appears that the Marx estate took legal action to prevent Groucho’s likeness from being used in the film.)
3) The comic book Dylan Dog lives in London. The movie Dylan Dog lives in New Orleans for absolutely no reason other than these movies always seem to be based in New Orleans. Seriously, New Orleans is one of the most overrated cities in America.
4) Finally, the comic book Dylan Dog is one of the most popular cult heroes in Europe. The movie Dylan Dog is the subject of one of the biggest cinematic flops of 2011.
It’s really hard to know what to say about a film like Dylan Dog other than the fact that it’s really, really bad. In fact, I’m tempted to call it the worst of 2011 so far but, after giving it a lot of thought, I decided that title still belongs to The Conspirator. Unlike The Conspirator, Dylan Dog isn’t a pompous film, it’s just a very, very lazy one.
I think the best thin to say in regards to Dylan Dog: Dead of Night is that it might inspire viewers to seek out and watch Dellamorte Dellamore. Now, that’s a film.