When a genre finds itself being in the midst of popularity unlike anything it has seen before, the amount of material that can be mined from it is breathtaking at times. And in the case of the undead genre, the various ways and means that the public has seen zombies is almost enough for one to eat their own brain, much less have a zombie do the work. And in The Amazing Adventures of The Living Corpse, the viewer gets a slight twist on a current standard.
Based on a series of graphic novels from Dynamite Entertainment, the story finds us at the beginning of a zombie outbreak, as they are climbing out of their graves and have a hunkering for brains. They attack a home where a mother and two children live, and when they recognize one of the zombies as his father (who we find out later is named John Romero in his past life). In turn, John has an epiphany of sorts, remembering about his life among the living, and has a crisis of conscience. He decides to take out the zombies attacking his family, and decides to go on a crusade attacking similar zombies and any monsters that are far worse. And in the world of the undead, there are worse monsters. And John fights them while attempting to save his son, who may be used for experiments as part of cloning a trainable undead army.
I knew nothing about the source material coming in, and seeing that it was an animated film was not a surprise. What I was surprised and even disappointed by, was the choice of animation for the film. Done via computer graphics, the choice makes sense from the side of those adapting the material, as the graphic novels are not as known as other material and illustrating the characters in a way that big studios currently do is simply not cost effective. The result, however, is one where the characters and the backgrounds are done via computer, and the characters are ‘lit' darkly and in a manner that makes them look like they came straight from an installment of the ‘Bioshock' video game series. Normally this would be a good thing, but in quieter less hectic scenes, that the focus of the film still moves around, akin to a handheld camera, just seems like a way to either throw the viewer off when it comes to the animation quality, or is trying to employ cinema into a material that does not appear to be as accommodating.
The movie is not without a redeeming moment here or there. For instance, John's son (Taylor) gets bullied by kids in school as he grows up, and experiences his own isolation similar to what Dad is going through. Seeing how that plays out over the course of the story gives it something Tim Burton would be mildly proud of. And for as much as I may chuff off the quality of HOW Living Corpse looks, the visuals enhance the character development and conflict Taylor experiences. The resonance of Taylor's arc dwarfs that of John's, and in this film that is admirable but not a good thing.
There may be an audience that has yearned to see The Living Corpse comic come to life, and based strictly on the stills I have seen the film does justice to fans of the book, but if not a lot of people are aware of the book, the film turns it shoulder on what would have been a potentially welcoming audience. Rather than building on a decent story with a supporting character, the main character has a disconnect from things that the film cannot overcome, and the corpse's adventures are less amazing and more mundane.
The Amazing Adventures of The Living Corpse comes to Blu-ray in an AVC-encoded 1.78:1 widescreen presentation and in high-definition, with the results about what one expects with exclusively digital transfers. The film is representative of the intent of the filmmakers, and while image detail is not as good as other animated features, black levels are not bad and the lack of artifacts, DNR or other image processing problems was nice to see. While what they put on screen is not hot, how it looks is decent.
The disc gets a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround treatment, and it is not bad. The film's soundtrack sounds like a vintage Tool album. At the very least, it is heavy metal influenced with a dusting of industrial thrown in for good measure. The music takes advantage of the soundstage though is not as broad as one would expect. In the actual moments of cinematic action, the low-end of the subwoofer engages periodically to provide a robust hum, but the soundtrack lacks an abundance of channel panning or directional effects to make it wholly immersive. Nevertheless, dialogue is clear and well-balanced in the front of the theater and the overall listening experience is pleasant.
Save for a couple of unrelated trailers, nothing.
The Amazing Adventures of The Living Corpse has some promise, but the promise is squandered and the story is told next to drab, perhaps even amateurish illustration. While said illustration looks and sounds okay, the disc lacks any supplements and thus is forced to stand on what meager merits it has. It is interesting viewing, but viewing that should done once, if at all, and forgotten about.