I am velvety-smoothReview is BELOWI am veltely smooth, too
DVD: Dead Sleep Easy, The (2007)
Film:  Good    
DVD Transfer:  Very Good  
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DVD Extras :  
Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada / Sound Venture / Zed Filmworks
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1 (NTSC)

May 5, 2009



Genre: Gangster / Crime / Wrestling  
A beat up enforcer discovers he may have fathered the girl being raised by his murderous boss, and must fight to the death to save the lives of his fractured family.  



Directed by:

Lee Demarbre
Screenplay by: Ian Driscoll
Music by: Michael Dubue
Produced by: Robert menzies

Ian Hodgkinson, Martin Kove, Dave Courtney Obe, Ana Sidel, Monica Aguila, Pedro Fendez, Orzo Yllanes, and Phil Caracas.

Film Length: 93 mins
Process/Ratio: 1.78:1
Anamorphic DVD: Yes
Special Features :  

4 Deleted Scenes (4:30) with Play All option / Pre-Production Tests (9:10) / Gag Reel (16:50) / Teaser Trailer / Trailer / Photo Gallery (1:48)

Comments :

Although the DVD contains no director commentary nor interviews with the cast and crew, it’s likely The Dead Sleep Easy stemmed from an idea to make a B-movie after principle photography wrapped on Vampiro: Angel, Devil, Hero, Lee Demarbre’s documentary on Canadian-born wrestler Ian Hodgkinson (aka Vampiro).

At the end of the documentary, a short-haired Hodgkinson is seen training with the Guardian Angels in New York City, so it’s fair to guess The Dead was shot between Hodgkinson’s one-time effort to produce a wrestling special for Mexican TV, and his membership as an Angel.

The basic story is actually pretty sound – a beat up enforcer discovers he may have fathered the girl being raised by his murderous boss – and Hodgkinson has an entire film with a decent variety of scenes to show off his okay acting chops, as well as engage in some brawls and a climactic fight.

The character is slightly built upon Hodgkinson’s own past: The Champ is also a Thunder Bay boy living in Mexico, he’s an aging fighter, and a man determined to keep his ex-flame and daughter in good straights. Hodgkinson also trims away the more animated physical and facial performance style of his wrestling persona, so for most of the film The Champ is a decent lug who basically had the misfortune of getting involved with a lethal group of rotten souls early in life.

Demarbre’s film is mostly told in chunky flashbacks and present-day scenes that piece together The Champ’s history with old flame Maya (Ana Sidel), crime chief Tlaloc (Dave Courtney), as well as Maya’s ex-love Hector (Pedro Fendez) who’s now living under a new identity after escaping from Tlaloc’s clutches. There’s also a side-plot involving The Champ’s ex-partner Bob Depugh (Martin Kove), who runs a smuggling operation where he takes the cash and mows down the illegal immigrants, but as the Depugh character is brought back into the narrative, the film gets a bit wonky, from which it doesn’t really recover.

Revenge and redemption are the ongoing themes in The Dead, but the decision to make the Depugh a deranged filmmaker bent on crafting a movie around The Champ using footage he’s shot over a 15 year period is just plain silly; when The Champ breaks into Depugh’s home and he finds him editing footage on a Mac workstation, it kind of looks ridiculous, although one senses the film is going for a film geek moment when Depugh has two speeches about director Sam Peckinpah, and creating a filmic legacy for his ex-partner.

A sequence where The Champ purifies himself and gets clean in a tattoo parlour is also a bit indulgent simply because hoodoo purification sequences tend to come off as goofy; Demarbre aims for a more earnest approach in capturing The Champ’s withdrawal from cocaine, but it still feels tongue-in-cheek, perhaps because of similar spiritual cleansing scenes in the effects-heavy Blueberry / Renegade (2004), the retarded On Deadly Ground (1994), the trippy Altered States (1980), and, uh, The Simpsons Movie (2007), which had Homer Simpson going through a different kind of withdrawal.

Director Demarbre is deliberately going for a Mexican-Italian spaghetti gangster saga, and that’s plainly evident by Michael Dubue’s tongue-in-cheek score that borrows heavily from Ennio Morricone. The main theme’s a bit too oft-used, as are the same ‘danger’ cues, but Dubue certainly nailed the flavour of a seventies exploitation flick set in a dusty border town.

The digital production makes great use of authentic Mexican locals, as well as some docu-styled photography of small markets and small footage from a Day of the Dead celebration.

Anchor Bay’s DVD includes a deleted scenes gallery, and the shorn material consists of extra dialogue material, an unnecessary bar fight, and an extended ending where a migrant worker drops incriminating evidence into a U.S. mailbox. The Gag Reel is mostly long flubbed takes that could’ve been trimmed down to a straightforward blooper reel.

As a one-off and an experiment in lead acting, Hodgkinson ain’t bad, but the film is perhaps best savoured by Vampiro fans wanting to see the character in a more neo-realist context. Hodgkinson’s other flings with cinema include Vampiro, guerrero de la noche (1993) and Como Nascem os Anjos / How Angels Are Born (1996).


© 2009 Mark R. Hasan

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