2017 (May 31, 2021)
ENBU Seminar/Shudder (Third Window Films)
- Film/program grade: See below
- Video quality: See below
- Audio quality: See below
- extra class: B+
- Overall grade: A-
[Editor’s Note: This is a Region-Free Blu-ray release from the UK.]
The first rule of fight club is that you don’t talk about it fight club. It’s also the second rule, of course, although there are a few other rules that aren’t directly related to the first two. On the other hand, there is only one rule A cut of the deadand you just don’t talk about it A cut of the dead. Any other rule would be superfluous.
Okay, so how do you actually talk about it A cut of the dead? A synopsis, however simple, is already a spoiler. Discussing the style in which the film will be shot is also a spoiler. Even the title itself is a spoiler, although thankfully it only makes sense in hindsight. (The original Japanese title Camera o tomeru na translates into a spoiler of a slightly different sort, so it’s best to look that up until you’ve seen it.) It might sound corny to say that the less you know going into a movie, the better, but A cut of the dead is a film where – well, the less you know, the better. If revenge is a dish best served cold, then it is A cut of the dead is best served even colder.
A cut of the dead is a brilliant deconstruction not only of the dying zombie genre, but of the film form itself. There is some virtuoso filmmaking at work here, if often carefully disguised. Like a magic act by Penn and Teller A cut of the dead first fools the audience and then reveals the trick’s secrets, only for the reveal to become a trick of its own. The final layer of deception will only become clear after it is all completely over. Don’t stop watching until the end, and yes, that means you’ll have to sit through the entire credits.
All of that was probably a spoiler. reservation emptor.
A cut of the dead breathes new life into a genre that was in dire need of something, both literally and figuratively. While there have been a few notable zombie movies released in the 21st century so far, none of them have broken mold to this degree A cut of the dead does. Even Shaun of the Dead seems almost formulaic in comparison, and that’s really saying something as Edgar Wright’s zombie opus is one of the most memorable of the bunch. Insane props to writer/director/editor Shin’ichiro Ueda and his talented cast and crew (and a tip on Ueda’s underappreciated inspiration, Ryoichi Wada’s play ghost in the box). A cut of the dead is the rare film that should inspire horror fans and film students alike. It’s so inventive and it’s so good.
Captured by cameraman Takeshi Sone A cut of the dead digitally with Sony HXR-NX100 and Sony a7R II cameras with Zeiss Compact Prime CP.2 and Canon Cinema EF lenses. It was finished as 2K Digital Intermediate with a frame ratio of 1.78:1. (Presumably this was cropped to 1.85:1 for theatrical release, but 1.78:1 would have been the full original frame size, and that’s reproduced here.) A cut of the dead being A cut of the dead, giving too many details about image quality would incur spoilers. Suffice it to say that everything looks exactly as it should when it’s supposed to be. Actual quality will vary throughout the film, but there’s a good reason for that, and this transfer accurately reproduces that effect. At best, everything is sharp and crystal clear, with no obvious artifacts worth mentioning. If things are looking a little rough, that’s an intended effect, so just hang in there and enjoy the ride. This makes it difficult to give the film a fair video rating, so don’t worry about the actual rating. Just know that everything is fine here A cut of the dead.
The tone for A cut of the dead is offered in Japanese 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio with changeable English subtitles. Although not labeled as such, this is a matrixed surround mix. Still, the bulk of the sound energy is devoted to the front channels, with only limited reverberation contained in the surround channels – although there are some rare off-screen sound effects as well. The lively and energetic musical score provides most of the bass response. Note that RLJ Entertainment’s steelbook release includes an English-dubbed title, but that’s not offered here, and that’s no loss – it’s a vast inferior to the Japanese original.
ONE CUT OF THE DEAD (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B+/B+/B+
One Cut of the Dead SpinOff: In Hollywood (aka Camera o tomeru na! supin-ofu: Hariuddo daisakusen!) is an unnecessary television episode of the original film. Written by Ueda but directed by Yuya Nakaizumi, it takes place after the events of A cut of the dead and serves as both a sequel and a remake. The basic structure is almost identical, only a few small things have been changed. The same cast returns, with a few new additions, so they expand their personal stories a bit, but overall, they don’t stray very far from the show’s one-trick-pony nature.
Takeshi Sone also fired One Cut of the Dead SpinOff: In Hollywood, framed at 1.78:1, but there’s no information on the cameras or formats he used this time. As A cut of the dead, the quality varies depending on the circumstances, but all within the structure of the film. The stylized sequences look different than the first time, with an unnatural color cast and blown out light sources, but again, that’s quite intentional. It looks like it should.
The tone for One Cut of the Dead SpinOff: In Hollywood is offered in a mixed Japanese/English 2.0 DTS-HD master audio track with switchable English subtitles. In terms of sound, this is almost indistinguishable from the audio A cut of the dead– it’s still largely focused on the front channels, with some reverberation in the surrounds. There’s some English audio this time, but that’s how it was recorded for the original production.
ONE CUT OF THE DEAD SPIN-OFF: IN HOLLYWOOD (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C-/B/B+
The Third Window Films region free Hollywood edition from A cut of the dead includes a reversible insert and a protective cover. One side of the insert has the poster artwork for A cut of the deadwhile the other has the artwork for One Cut of the Dead SpinOff: In Hollywood. The following extras are included, all in HD:
- follower (1:10)
- Making of One Cut of the Dead (43:56)
- Shin’ichiro Ueda Interview
- Raw “One Cut” GoPro footage (38:02)
- Pom instructional video (:58)
- exits (4:36)
That Production of A cut of the dead is a look behind the scenes. It’s of particular interest to anyone who has seen the film, as parts of it will look fairly familiar. The film’s planning process clearly inspired certain scenes in the film, and there’s even an element of that that actually shows up in the final cut. This takes selfishness to a whole new level. There’s meta, and then there’s meta, and then there’s this Production of A cut of the dead. It’s a fascinating analysis of a film that has already analyzed itself. That ShinichirO Ueda interview The director explains how the project was developed through workshops. It’s a nice companion piece to the making-of, as Ueda clarifies some of his thoughts behind the creative process.
That Go Pro version of One Cut of the Dead is essentially a behind-the-scenes look at how a particular sequence was filmed – it’s a revelation of the revelation while stepping back from the resignation. Reshooting this broken record, saying more would be a spoiler. fans of A cut of the dead will find it fascinating as it is further evidence of the amazing work done by a talented group of filmmakers. That Pom instructional video is only the full version of the self-defense video that can be seen briefly during the film. That exits consist of extended and alternative takes of some scenes. It’s worth a look, but there’s nothing particularly revealing here.
The only thing missing here is a trivial extra that was included in the RLJE Steelbook edition A cut of the dead: a short gallery of still images. On the other hand, their release is missing One Cut of the Dead SpinOff: in Hollywood, The making of One Cut of the Dead, the interview with Shin’ichiro Ueda and the trailer. From a features point of view, Third Windows Films is undoubtedly the winner between the two. The only question is how important the Steelbook packaging is to you. The problem is that the RLJE steelbook on Amazon seems to come in and out of current availability, while the Third Window Films version tends to be widely available despite its limited edition status. Regardless of which one you choose – or which you may have to choose –A cut of the dead belongs in the collection of every serious horror fan, and damn near every single movie fan.
– Stephen Bjork
(You can follow Stephen on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook.)