Nobody does halloween music like Midnight Syndicate. The brainchild of composer/writer/performer/director Edward Douglas, the band has been performing halloween and dark cinema songs for over 13 years. Their music is a staple of the halloween season, and has appeared on everything from video games to Monday Night Football.
The Dead Matter is Midnight Syndicate's feature film, shot in conjunction with Precinct 13 Entertainment. Originally a short video shot by Douglas over a decade ago, this release is a full length (89 minutes) gothic horror. Douglas and fellow directors Gary Jones and Robert Kurtzman deliver an all-senses package with a story of devotion and a little dark humor.
The Dead Matter opens in Germany, with a power-hungry vampire weilding a talisman that can control zombies. One week later, the men who defeated him are on the run, but Vellich, the mysterious vampire, defeats them, only to come away empty handed.
Soon, a group of students come across the haunted grounds. The foursome, Gretchen, Jill, Mike and Frank, are getting away from it all while Gretchen attempts to get past the loss of her brother. She asks the others to perform a seance. As fate would have it, they come across the scarab sought by Vellich, and Gretchen's attempt to reach her brother bears some rather disturbing results.
The quartet splits up, returning to their lives. Gretchen continues her obsession to see her brother once again, resulting in some freaky dreams, flashbacks, and one very strange scene of implied cannibalism. As she investigates, Vellich begins his path to cleansing the corruption that has sullied the vampire lineage while he's been away.
At this point, writers Douglas and Tony Demci have set the forces in motion; two unstoppable forces on a slowly accelerating collision course. Viewers are treated to Gretchen's increased interactions with the undead, and Vellich's dismantling of what vampires have established as order.
While the film can be slow at times and the story thin at others, it is interspersed with some very clever visuals. After all, Gretchen's power over the dead isn't limited to the dead...all in one piece. She learns to control the zombie they've discovered (right down to making it drink low budget American beer). Her boyfriend is skeptical. Her scientist buddy is fascinated. Her best friend is terrified. Gretchen begins to treat her pet zombie as a replacement for her lost brother, and it's evident early that she's a few variables short of a calculus formula.
The two forces collide and everyone's fears are recognized. The final confrontation reveals Vellich as the tru evil, and demands a choice from Gretchen. She must destroy the scarab, and with it any chance of seeing her brother again, or save it, and risk a master vampire gaining control of an army of undead. The payoff is a great climax of song, visual and story.
The Dead Matter is a conglomeration of everything in the horror genre. The recipe calls for zombies, vampires, possession, gore, revenge, dismemberment, corruption and even disintegration. It features fun villains, unsuspecting heroes, some great visual gags and a fantastic score. What's not to like?
Andrew Divoff (Lost) is a great poor man's John Malkovich as Vellich. Savini (You name it, he's done the effects) makes the most of his corrupt corporate slimeball. Jason Carter (The Mesmerist) is a great, understated hero. Brian Van Camp deserves extra credit for the sheer amount of time he spent in makeup.
Douglas uses his unique history in the industry to deliver one of the most well-rounded special edition DVD's available in independent film. The three-disc special edition includes the film shot in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and Dolby 5.1 surround sound. Special Features include picture-in-picture behind the scenes, interviews, concept art comparison, a gag reel (featuring Mark the Zombie), filmmaker commentary, and several music videos.
A bonus CD delivers the film's soundtrack, featuring Midnight Syndicate, joined by performers Jerry "Haunt Rocker" Vayne, Destini Beard, and Pat Berdysz of the industrial band, Encoder. A third CD, titled Halloween Music Collection, delivers over an hour of Midnight Syndicate's hits.