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Deadgirl Blu-ray Review

Written by Robert Gold

Blu-ray released by Unearthed Films

Deadgirl Large

Directed by Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel
Written by Trent Haaga
2008, 102 minutes, Not Rated
Released on October 24th, 2023

Shiloh Fernandez as Rickie
Noah Segan as JT
Candice Accola as Joann
Jenny Spain as Deadgirl
Eric Podnar as Wheeler
Andrew DiPalma as Johnny
Michael Bowen as Clint

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High school misfits Rickie and JT bum around town looking for something to do. They check out the abandoned mental hospital, where they discover a hidden door leading to a secret room. Inside, they find something that changes their lives, a naked woman strapped to a table, covered in plastic. Is she dead? At first they think so, but she quickly revives and is dazed and mute. Rickie believes they should set her free and call the police. JT has a different idea, that they should keep her and turn her into a sex slave. This is too much for Rickie, who opts to walk away. Rickie quietly pines for the lovely Joann, who wants nothing to do with him and has a boyfriend. Things with JT and the undead girl escalate and soon people start dying. How far are these guys willing to go to keep their secret prize?

Deadgirl is the rare movie that excels in its originality and bold storytelling without spoon-feeding all of its ideas. Written by Trent Haaga (68 Kill, Cheap Thrills), an alumnus of such Troma modern classics as Terror Firmer and Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger Part IV, the film is not afraid to lean into seriously dark territory. Themes of life after death, rape and necrophilia run through the heart of this story as our hero wrestles with his loyalty to his friend versus his moral responsibility. Directed by Marcel Sarmiento (Totem) and Gadi Harel (Operation Midnight Climax), the film unfolds in a number of increasingly tense sequences as Rickie’s choices lead to worse and worse consequences.

Haaga doesn’t spend too much time on exposition-filled character development, but succeeds in giving us everything we need to know in a very short amount of time. The bizarre love triangle of Rickie, JT and the dead girl spirals out of control as JT betrays their secret and invites their friend Wheeler to join in the rapey fun. Rickie is the alienated conscience of the story, first yearning to win Joann’s heart before holding another girl’s fate in his hands. After meeting their captive, despite knowing the difference between right and wrong, he just isn’t a very strong individual when it comes to exploring his own darkness and standing up to his friend.

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This coming-of-age story delivers its share of twists, one of the more memorable coming when JT and Wheeler try to abduct an innocent woman at a gas station only to have her turn the tables on them most unexpectedly. More often than not, Rickie tries to do the right thing, as he is growing to care for their captive, but is surrounded by sociopaths. The onscreen brutality towards the titular character is kept to a minimum, though the moments of graphic violence and gore are well executed.

Shilo Fernandez (Evil Dead (2013), Red) and Noah Segan (Brick, All About Evil) star as Rickie and JT respectively, and deliver fantastic performances keeping things grounded as the mayhem escalates. Fernandez has a passing resemblance to Joaquin Phoenix and excels at playing the troubled youth, while Segan is bravely unlikeable as the scuzzy antagonist. Candice Accola (The Vampire Diaries) plays unrequited love interest Joann with a directness that is neither bitchy nor mean-spirited; she simply doesn’t feel the same way Rickie does. The unsung hero of the picture is Jenny Spain (American Girls) as the titular Deadgirl, who spends the majority of the movie tied naked to a table. Limited solely to facial expressions, she fills the mute character with a sensitivity of a vulnerable, feral animal. Eric Podnar (Deathcember) is Wheeler. the “friend” too eager to join in the crime and Michael Bowen (Night of the Comet) turns up as Clint, Rickie’s mom’s current boyfriend, who is not much of a role model.

Despite the questionable vitals of the titular character, this is not a traditional zombie movie. Deadgirl is a story of one boy’s longing for acceptance while his moral compass is compromised by peer pressure. The film centers on despicable acts committed towards women but is in no way condoning such behavior. The guilty are punished, the victim somewhat vindicated and there is plenty of collateral damage to make viewers cringe.

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Video and Audio:

This is likely the same solid transfer from MPI’s 2011 release, presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Picture quality is strong with muted colors, rich black levels and plenty of small-object detail.

Audio options come as a DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix and an LPCM 2.0 stereo track, with the expanded mix edging ahead with some immersive directional sound effects. Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.

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Special Features:

Carried over from the previous release are two audio commentaries, the first featuring members of the cast and crew. Participants include directors Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel, cinematographer Harris Charlambous, editor Phillip Blackford, sound editor Joseph Bauer and actors Shiloh Fernandez and Noah Segan. This lively discussion covers a lot of ground with each member detailing their specific involvement with the film. This is an entertaining track filled with interesting behind-the-scenes trivia and production stories.

The second commentary features actor Jenny Spain in conversation with moderator Sandy Martin. Spain shares her memories of being tied up for hours on end for weeks while the production rolled on. She talks about her audition, the make-up effects that developed her character’s look and working with her co-stars and two directors.

There is a collection of new interviews, all under the title: A Look Back at Deadgirl, starting with co-director Gadi Harel (14 minutes), who shares his memories of meeting writer Haaga, working with his co-director Sarmiento, the cast and the various special effects. He shares a number of engaging production stories, including one about the production being robbed of its camera equipment!

Writer Trent Haaga sits for an interview in which he tells about how much he was involved with the production, starting with location scouting and serving as the assistant director. He goes on to reveal the inspiration for the story and shares his thoughts on the impressive cast. Other topics include the challenges of the shoot and the controversies that followed as well as his reaction to seeing the finished film with an audience.

In actor Noah Segan’s interview (18 minutes), we hear his thoughts on his character and wanting to meet Haaga immediately to learn more about the script after he read it. He tells of the experience of working with two directors and has praise for his co-stars.

Actor Shiloh Fernandez talks about his reactions to the script and meeting Haaga in his interview (9 minutes). He has nothing but kind words for his co-stars and directors and remembers seeing the premiere.

Make-up artist Jim Ojala is a great storyteller and reveals in his interview (30 minutes) his approach to the material and inherent protectiveness of actress Jenny Spain on set. He details which effects were the most complicated to achieve and any troubles on set. He is grateful for the extensive prep time he had and the great experience he had working with the directors. Other topics include the camera theft and the night of the premiere.

There are two photo gallery slideshows, one behind-the-scenes (4 minutes) and one dedicated to the makeup effects (11 minutes).

Legacy extras include the featurette Exquisite Corpse: The Making of Deadgirl (7 minutes), featuring interviews with the cast and crew discussing the script and themes of the film. This segment is loaded with both behind-the-scenes footage and clips from the film.

Jenny Spain’s audition video is included (2 minutes).

A collection of five deleted scenes (7 minutes) provides a look at material cut for pacing.

A promotional stills gallery (3 minutes) showing photo storyboards is available for your viewing pleasure.

The original theatrical trailer is also included.

A nice addition is two additional text based PDF extras; one the shooting script of Deadgirl, the other a first draft of the proposed Deadgirl 2.

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Movie: Threeandahalfstars Cover
Buy Amazon Us
Video: Fourstars
Audio: Fourstars
Features: Threeandahalfstars
Overall: 4 Star Rating

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About The Author
Robert Gold
Author: Robert Gold
Staff Reviewer - USA
Robert's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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