Legion of the Dead (2000)

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Released 30-Dec-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Wishmaster 4; VAMPIRES-Los Muertos; The Order; Vatel
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 89:04
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Olaf Ittenbach
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Michael Carr
Russell Friedenberg
Kimberly Liebe
Matthias Hues
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Jaro Messerschmidt
Ralf Wengenmayr


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (320Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, have a guess which cola company donated some funds
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    At first, when I looked at the cover artwork for this DVD, I thought that I had received a Troma film that had Columbia Tristar's logos printed all over it by mistake. While I don't mind some of Troma's films, the philosophy of its people quite honestly makes me hesitant about watching anything they make. I say this because, aside from the fact that this film is distributed by Artisan Entertainment in the USA, I have no explanation coming to mind as to how such a bad film, utterly bereft of production values, could appear in the catalogue of a distributor so well-known for the technical quality of its product.

    Indeed, Olaf Ittenbach is one of the few writer/directors whom I would describe as being worse than Ed Wood. He's not just a bad filmmaker, ladies and gentlemen, he is a worthless filmmaker, and if you don't understand the difference after hearing the embarrassingly bad dialogue in the opening scene that seems to go on forever, I can't help you. At least Ed Wood films made sense, and their scenes didn't outlast their welcome. Hell, I have even heard that Olaf Ittenbach wanted to have his name removed from the credits, claiming that twenty minutes were removed from the finished cut without his approval. I have to wonder whether these twenty minutes were the actual "good" parts of the film, because the rest makes about as much sense as Pat Robertson.

    It's hard to describe the plot. At all. The aforementioned opening scene features two guys who look like they are stoned out of their minds reciting dialogue so childish that one will be wondering if the R-rating on the cover is a mistake. From there, we cut to a couple of men in grey suits torturing and murdering a victim who tells them that their suits look terrible. From there, we cut to these same men arguing about fashion and why their suits look so bad, or something, when one of them gets hit by a car. Or something. Then we get some random flashes of a guy sitting on a weird-looking throne in a white room before we cut to a bar. This is where we are introduced to Geena (Kimberly Liebe), the only character in the film who is played by someone who can act, although I suspect that the monumentally bad acting from the rest of the cast just makes her appear competent by comparison.

    "Don't mind my friend, he's a little childish," says William (Michael Carr) in the next scene. Well, that sums up the entire script, and there is no way one can get the eighty-nine minutes running time back. The dialogue here makes the whole "dead, murdered, and somebody's responsible" speech sound inspired, and the production as a whole makes Rebel High look like The Godfather. Yes, it really is that bad. How the hell did this piece of crap come to be in the Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment catalogue? Isn't this sort of garbage normally Troma's specialty? Do you really care if the DVD itself is bad (it is, but this is not necessarily Columbia Tristar's fault)?

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The incompetence that went into making this film does not restrict itself to the screenwriter or most of the cast. The photographer appears to have done a patently awful job to boot.

    The cover I was supplied with claims that this film is presented in a "full screen" format. It is not. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 Enhanced (which you could call "full screen" if you owned a 16x9 display, I suppose).

    This is not a sharp transfer. As a matter of fact, it appears pretty soft and grainy a lot of the time, almost enough so that I could swear blind I was watching a recycled VHS transfer if not for the 16x9 Enhancement. It improves as the film progresses, with the outdoor daytime scenes being as sharp as one can expect of a recent low-budget film, but there are some moments when blurry isn't the word. The shadow detail is pretty average, and there is no low-level noise.

    The colours in this transfer have a dull, washed-out look to them, no doubt because of the low-rent nature of the photography. The yellow suits worn by the grown children who are gathering recruits for the "legion" are supposed to be "mustard" in colour, but they look more like crayon. I blame this on the photography because aside from this badly-developed colour, there are no other problems with colours in the transfer.

    MPEG artefacts were not noticed in this transfer. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some minor aliasing on car chrome and the occasional neon light, but the transfer itself generally doesn't have the resolution necessary to make these artefacts a problem. Film artefacts were all over this picture, with a really obvious white mark appearing in the upper right of the frame at 34:15, to name a classic example.

    No subtitle options are included with this DVD, which will no doubt irritate Hearing Impaired viewers who like a really bad vampire flick.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Accompanying a video transfer sourced from very ordinary source materials is an audio transfer from equally ordinary source materials.

    There is one soundtrack on this DVD: the original English dialogue, recorded in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 320 kilobits per second.

    The dialogue starts out pretty ordinary - during the opening scene that almost made me think I'd picked up a pornographer's satire of the latest Harry Potter novel by mistake, it sounds as if all the microphones were a good six feet away from the actors. This improved as the film progressed, but the overall soundstage is never what I would call natural. After the ten or twelve minute mark, the dialogue is about as clear and easy to understand as it is going to get. Matter of fact, it is clearer and easier to understand than most members of the audience might wish.

    The audio sync for the voices is pretty good. Not exact, mind you, but as good as can be expected in light of the production values. The sound effects, on the other hand, reminded me of an exhibit at Warner Brothers Movie World where audience members were called up to try and dub the sound effects into a scene from Lethal Weapon 2. The sound effects that they did get were a good three seconds out of sync, but the hosts were nice enough to point out that it takes several years of training to become a sound effects technician. I mention this specifically because some of the explosions and car crash effects sound so cheap that they must have picked members out of an audience at random to do this work.

    The music in this film is credited to Jaro Messerschmidt and Ralf Wengenmayr, two names who, if I ever see in the credits of another film, I will run screaming from. Not that the music is especially bad, mind you, it's actually a lot better than the film itself deserves, it's just that the music is pretty ordinary in comparison to other examples I could name.

    The surround channels were not used in this soundtrack.

    The subwoofer was also not encoded into the soundtrack, although it did get a small helping of redirected signal during scenes in the bar.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu is static, 16x9 Enhanced, and silent.

Theatrical Trailer

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with 16x9 Enhancement and Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, this two minute and thirteen second trailer is much more entertaining than the feature.

Trailer - Wishmaster 4

    Presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, this seventy-nine second trailer is also more entertaining than the feature.

Trailer - Vampires: Los Muertos

    This two minute trailer for Vampires: The Dead, to translate the rather redundant title, is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced. The original ranks as the only John Carpenter film I've ever hated, and this sequel stars Jon Bon Jovi, so you know it has to suck.

Trailer - The Order

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, this one minute and fifty second trailer is for a film that stars Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Trailer - Vatel

    This two minute trailer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, and it is 16x9 Enhanced. The film that this trailer is advertising actually looks quite good - much better than the main feature, in fact. Let's hope it arrives on DVD soon.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this disc is missing;

    The Region 4 version of this disc is missing;

    From the information I've been able to find, the local version would be the lesser of two evils.

Summary

    As best as I can figure out, Legion Of The Dead is about a bunch of evil creatures who are seeking to wipe out a particular race of, well, something, of which Kimberly Liebe is playing the last member. But it is the director's job to tell us this. I don't seem to quite understand what makes this character so significant that her destruction will be of any benefit to said creatures. Again, it is the director's, screenwriter's, or actors' job to tell us. This is ninety minutes of your life that you won't get back, so avoid this turkey at all costs. It's basically my job to tell you that.

    The video transfer is a good representation of mediocre source materials.

    The audio transfer is a good stereo version of ordinary source materials.

    The extras are limited, but much more interesting to look at than the main feature.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Tuesday, March 11, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySamsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer

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