Dead Fury is a very interesting curiosity. This direct-to-video crudely animated tale is quite literally a one-man show. Frank Sudol, whose only credit on the Internet Movie Database aside from his individual forays into animation is for being an artist on the film South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, plays every role in this movie. He's the director, the writer, the animator, the musician, and the vocal artist. And while Dead Fury is not quite a success as a movie-length feature, kudos to Sudol for sticking to his vision and making it - especially considering he has a day job, a fact he tells his audience on the audio commentary for the film.
Dead Fury follows the exploits of Max, his Pop, and his friends, the engaged couple Jen and Jake. They're trespassing in the woods to go deer hunting - even though it's off season - and they soon encounter a hiker who's possessed by some kind of demon. When he attacks, the foursome basically has to completely demolish the guy's body with their shotguns. Hiding out in a nearby cabin, the demon spirit begins possessing each of Max's friends in turn, leading to bloody disembowelments and the revelation of a freak family out for revenge.
Dead Fury is clearly a homage to The Evil Dead and The Hills Have Eyes, although Sudol mentions a number of additional movies as his inspiration in the commentary track, including Friday the 13th. It is gory to the extreme, but its gore and over-the-top violence are played for laughs primarily. The animation is like a Jib-Jab version of South Park (more on this in the Extras portion of the review), and it helps leaven the proceedings.
Dead Fury is novel for a while, and I appreciated its dark humor and excesses. This is Sudol's second film; the first is called City of Rott. I haven't seen City of Rott, but viewing its trailer on this disc, it appears that Dead Fury is consistent with it in terms of style and content, so fans of Sudol may not find this outing as original as those (like me) unfamiliar with his work.
However, while there's a lot to admire here, there just isn't enough to power 82 minutes. Dead Fury becomes very repetitive, both in its bloodletting and in its dialogue. The father figure is perhaps the most grating - with his constant obscenities and need to go to the bathroom played over and over and over again for laughs. It's funny the first time, but by the third go-round, yawn.
Fans of gory horror films would probably find Dead Fury entertaining, and it's creative enough for other movie fans to add it to their rental lists. However, Dead Fury would have best worked as an animated short of about 25 minutes, as it overstays its welcome in its current format.
It was disappointing to find that Dead Fury is presented in non-anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen, especially considering that distributor Unearthed Films' introductory logo and the menu system are anamorphic. This is animation via Photoshop, so the visuals are limited - with artifacts and a noted lack of sharpness. But, in a way, the crudeness of the animation adds to the ambience of the film, so it's not necessarily a bad thing.
The audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. As with the video quality, the audio presentation is limited. Dialogue is discernible - although the Jen character as voiced by Sudol is gratingly chipmunk-ish. The score and sound effects come off strongly, but don't expect a dynamic presentation.
Dead Fury is loaded with extras. My personal favorite may be the shortest. Making of Dead Fury (5:06) is a screen capture of, assumedly, Frank Sudol's computer. He narrates how he uses Photoshop to create the film while he shows some character and setting models. It was short, but interesting.
Excluded Storyboards / Dialog (34:49) and Deleted / Extended Scenes (10:14) offer exactly what's advertised. It's nice to see these extras included, but since I found the feature dragged as it was, I didn't feel an overriding need to sift through what was left on the cutting room floor.
Slide Show (2:14) offers up some of Sudol's original story art set to his score for the movie.
Frank Sudol offers a feature-length commentary track. He speaks in an unexcited monotone (he sounds tired), but it's jammed full of observations about his work and his inspirations - all recorded he tells us, with a $40 microphone he purchased for this purpose.
Finally, there's a trailer gallery with spots for City of Rott, Dead Fury, Rock & Rule, Junk, and Frankenhooker.
I admire Frank Sudol and the work he's done with Dead Fury completely on his own, as a labor of love. However, the novelty of the movie wears thin by the half hour mark, and one can't help but think this would have worked much better as an animated short. Still, the DVD is loaded with extras, and I certainly would recommend Dead Fury as a rental to those who might be interested in it.