Legion Of The Dead

Legion Of The Dead (2000)
Artisan Entertainment
Cast: Michael Carr, Russell Friedenberg, Kimberly Liebe, Matthias Hues
Extras: Deleted Scenes, Featurette, Trailer, Photo Gallery, Filmographies

Sometimes, bad horror can be quite good and other times bad horror can be quite bad. But, in the case of ‘Legion of the Dead,’ the horror goes from bad to worse in this poorly executed witty gorefest that wants so bad to have been Quentin Tarantino’s ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ that it’s not even funny – and it’s not.

German writer/director Olaf Ittenbach attempts to unravel an offbeat, blood-soaked tale of paths crossed, beginning with a pair of bumbling ’soul collectors’ who systematically mutilate a bound victim while arguing between themselves, then off to two hapless guys whose backpacking vacation across the California desert is abruptly cut short when they’re kidnapped by none other than burger-chugging Mike, and finally introducing a mysterious blond fiend, Togaio, who’s intent on raising an army of the dead. The three disjointed plotlines eventually converge in a bar in the sleepy town of Ridge Cress, culminating in a full-scale showdown/slaughter that pits the living against the undead. And, while we’ve seen this sort of thing work well in the past, Ittenbach never quite reaches his high aspirations. Much of the film looks OK from a stylish standpoint and the gore is generally well done and inventive, but the weak acting, the poorly timed humor, the choppy editing, and the apparent lack of direction within the story itself renders this a ’nice try, but no cigar’ attempt. Gore hounds will generally enjoy the sea of red, well stocked with severed limbs and whatnot, but those who require a decent narrative will be left disappointed (with the ending being quite a letdown).

Artisan Home Entertainment is serving up ‘Legion of the Dead’ in an anamorphic widescreen presentation. The transfer looks pretty good with rich colors, deep black levels, and generally good amount of detail without any distracting grain or other noticeable imperfections.

The audio comes in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Surround tracks. Unfortunately, the 5.1 track doesn’t quite muster up the sort of energy one would want for this sort of picture (especially when compared to the excellent mix on ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’). The dialog and effects are definitely discernable and cleanly separated but the soundstage potential is never truly exploited. Either track would be suitable for viewing here.

Extras include deleted scenes (which unfortunately don’t add much clarity to the muddled plot), a 23-minute ‘making of’ featurette, a photo gallery, trailer, and assorted cast and crew filmographies.

Clearly, there’s much potential in this picture but, sadly, indie director Ittenbach seemed to have so many goals for the picture that he ultimately derailed the finished product. Give it a look if you enjoy Tarantino knock-offs, but due to the quirky plot structure, it’s a film best appreciated in pieces rather than as a whole.