Freddie (Craig Fairbrass) did a stint as an underground boxer, and he's done alright for himself having his crew move designer drugs. He wants to be a bigger man than that now, especially since he and the missus (Lisa McAllister) are trying to squirt out a kid. ...and, hey, what better way to be all proper and respectable than to open a high-end strip club? I guess the guy's got a good eye for real estate, though. Freddie's barely gotten the stripper pole mounted before he gets a buy-out offer from Romanian gangster Dante Livienko (Billy Murray). Freddie says no to that offer but nods "well, okay then" to a bare-knuckled wager. If his fighter wins, he gets three million pounds sterling. If Dante's man wins, though...? He gets the club. Freddie insists on keeping the fight fair and won't let his brother-in-law Dennis (Danny Midwinter) play fast and loose with that whole thing. Dante's man has something a hell of a lot more potent than steroids or putting plaster in his hand wraps to give him an edge, though; the bastard's a vampire. So's everyone in Dante's crew, actually. The vamps take control of the titty bar, and when Freddie and his men storm in to reclaim what's theirs...well, you've seen From Dusk Till Dawn, so you know what happens from there. Fangs. Blood. Helluva lot of dismembered bodies scattered all over the place. Fun for the whole family!
Dead Cert plays like it's lazily checking off boxes from a long list of genre clichés. It's frustratingly talky, trudging along as sloooooooooooooooowly as it can to pad the runtime out to feature length, and even the underground fights and the couple of kills before all hell breaks loose in the titty bar fail to get the adrenaline pumping. The brawls are clumsily staged and devoid of any real speed or energy. Even the splattery vampire attacks -- gnawing on dismembered limbs and all -- are kind of a bore to watch. It doesn't help that the vamps don't really...do much. I mean, Dead Cert is half over
The sound design is unusually limp and lifeless, and the cinematography is so chintzy that it feels like I'm watching a really elaborate home movie or something. The cast does what they can with such lackluster material, but no one really manages to stand out all that much. Billy Murray in particular is disappointingly bland, lacking the sort of eerie charm an ancient, legendarily wicked vamp really ought to have. Ack. There are a couple of things in the script I like -- rewriting key events from European history to swirl around vampire attacks and having Freddie's crew keep on fighting after they've been vamped -- but that's kind of like being handed a rancid cheeseburger and going on about how nice the pickles are or whatever. Dead Cert has such a gleefully insane premise, and yet it refuses to ever really cut loose. The movie's ambition far, far outstrips its meager budget and the talent behind the camera. ...and I'd bitch about the two bafflingly incompetent codas, which I guess are threatening a sequel, but...no. Dead Cert is a lifeless, uninspired British gangster flick mashed up with a lifeless, uninspired vampire flick. Neither one's handled competently enough to stand on its own, and they really don't work crammed together. Skip It.
There's one point in Dead Cert's audio commentary where everyone kind of just stops and ogles how great the flick looks, even making it a point to mention that this the first time they've seen it properly graded
Dead Cert is presented on Blu-ray at its original aspect ratio of 2.39:1. Despite a pretty lean bitrate, its AVC encode never devolves into a smeary, blocky mess. The movie and its extras fit on a single layer Blu-ray disc with plenty of room to spare.
Why settle for 5.1? Dead Cert is packing a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack...and doing the whole 24-bit audio thing while it's at it too. With the specs maxed out like that, it's a pretty safe bet that this Blu-ray disc is completely transparent to what the sound mixers and all were hearing in their ritzy, bleeding-edge high-end studios. The only thing is that...well, if that's true, what they were hearing in the studio must not have been all that great either. This soundtrack is surprisingly thin and harsh sounding, frequently marred by some distractingly heavy background noise. The subwoofer lets out a dull rumble every once in a while but doesn't snarl with the sort of ferocity I'd expect out of a vampire-slash-gangster flick. Effects that should pack a wallop -- kicks, punches, and all that -- are anemic. The recording of the dialogue can be really uneven, especially when Freddie and his crew have barricaded themselves in the basement. The bland Casio keyboard score feels kind of meek and insubstantial. The surround channels are lightly atmospheric but don't get really immersive. A few effects stand out -- streams of water pounding down, f'r instance -- but that's about it. Pretty much nothing in the way of distinctness or clarity either, with everything -- including dialogue that would've been tough to make out anyway wif' 'ese thick Cockney accents -- all muddled together. It just doesn't feel like there was any post-production polish on the audio at all. I'm sure Shout! Factory did the best they could with the elements they were handed, but...yeah, it seems pretty clear that they didn't have much to work with, exactly.
Also included is a PCM stereo track. No dubs or anything this time around. No subtitles either, and that's a drag since the Cockney accents are frequently so impenetrable.
The Final Word
C'mon, Dead Cert starts off as a gritty Cockney gangster flick, and halfway through it turns out they're all trapped in a strip club with a bunch of vampires. How could it not be the best thing ever? Well...kinda sad to say that it's really, really not. Dead Cert plods along at an excruciatingly slow pace, and with as routine and amateurish as both the gangster and vampire ends of things wind up being, the payoff's not even a little bit worth it. Skip It.