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Dog Soldiers – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Dog-SoldiersSix Men. Full Moon. No Chance. The terrifying thriller Dog Soldiers gets the Scream Factory treatment with a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack available June 23rd, 2015.  Fans who order their copy from ShoutFactory.com will receive an exclusive Dog Soldiers poster, available while supplies last.  Directed by Neil Marshall (The Decent, Doomsday, Centurion and episodes ofGame Of Thrones) and starring Kevin McKidd (Rome, Hannibal Rising), Sean Pertwee (Gotham, Event Horizon), Emma Cleasby (Doomsday) and Liam Cunningham (Game Of Thrones, Clash Of The Titans), Dog Soldiers comes loaded with brand-new bonus features, including an audio commentary with director Neil Marshall, a look at the model of the sets created by production designer Simon Bowles and the featurette The Making of ‘Dog Soldiers’, featuring new interviews with director Neil Marshall, producers Christopher Figg  and Keith Bell, actors Kevin McKidd, Sean Pertwee, Darren Morfitt, Leslie Simpson and Emma Cleasby, special effects artist Bob Keen, special effects supervisor/creature designer Dave Bonneywell, production designer Simon Bowles and director of photography Sam McCurdy. Dog Soldiers also includes Neil Marshall’s short film Combat,  theatrical trailers, and a still gallery.

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Film 

A group of soldiers dispatched to the Scottish Highlands on special training maneuvers face their biggest fears after they run into Captain Ryan – the only survivor of a Special Ops team that was literally torn to pieces. Ryan refuses to disclose his mission even though whoever attacked his men might be hungry for seconds. Help arrives in the form of local girl who shelters them in a deserted farmhouse deep in the forest…but when they realize that they are surrounded by a pack of blood-lusting werewolves, it’s apparent their nightmare has just begun!

Well, this Scream Factory release hasn’t been without its share of drama getting to release.  But, its finally here.  They announced they were doing a collector’s edition on it back in 2013 for a June 2014 release.  Then, there were some delays moving it into the February-March range for this year.  One more delay came then because Neil Marshall apparently had some new source material from which to strike a new transfer.  Just know folks, when Scream Factory delays something, it is usually within good reason beneficial to their customers that they are holding off on it.

This early Marshall film has always been his weakest to me, but its still a very fun.  Its a part of that little horror subgenre where you put a group of mercernaries/military unit against some sort of paranormal antagonist.  Here its basically badass soldiers fighting against some big ass werewolves.  It not only gives us an early look at Neil Marshall, but we get some neat actors like Kevin McKidd, Sean Pertwee and Liam Cunningham showing their chops and busting each others’.

Production on the film is actually rather clever.  I love these low budget horror films with big ideas and ambitions and no money.  This is where you clearly find creative geniuses and learn who just doesn’t cut it.  Marshall makes a film that’s as effective as something with a big studio budget, both imaginative and in its execution.  This film makes you believe you see a lot more here than you actually do.  For instance, some people swear there’s a transformation scene in this movie.  There is absolutely not one.  A guy gets crazy eyes and nails, falls over a table and hops up a werewolf.

While Marshall has gone on to some big things (The Descent, the underappreciated Doomsday, Centurion and Game Of Thrones episodes), people have not forgotten Dog Soldiers, its a start with a promising director who is already showing his masterwork at this early stage.  I’ve always said that Marshall’s greatest strength as a horror/action director is that he makes the violence not only count, but he actually makes it look like it hurts too.  Hurts so much that you’ll grab your own body part that you see getting busted onscreen for someone else.  Its outstanding and part of a sixth sense of fun with filmgoing that Marshall displays.  Definitely seek this one out as not only a good werewolf movie, but something really different in the genre as well.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1o80p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail:  Dog Soldiers features a new 2k scan HD transfer supervised and approved by director Neil Marshall.  Now, please know that even Neil Marshall feels weary of it, as he shot the film on 16mm.  And as we’ve seen, Blu-ray can be a tad overkill sometimes on these. This film is never going to wow in the high definition era.  Despite that, detail is still pretty impressive, and the film looks pretty great.

Depth:  There’s a decent amount of depth here.  Especially in interior scenes, we really get a sense of space.  Movement is solid.

Black Levels: Blacks are rich, and due to the low budget nature a bit consuming during many scenes.  Detail is lost and things can get pretty dark, but the shadowing is actually pretty impressive given the source material.

Color Reproduction: The image overall is a bit washed out and bold strong coloring isn’t its strong suit. However, greens and reds can look decent to very good at times.

Flesh Tones:  Skin is a bit bleachedish and consistent.  Detail is solid on static close ups and not really a thing from further pulled back shots.

Noise/Artifacts:  The print features specs, heavy grain and streaks.  It was hard to tell if there were any compression issues or noise.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: You could probably get away with a great experience just using the 2.0 track.  The 5.1 is solid, but not an incredibly utilized 5 channel experience.  I’m guessing its the same track fromt he previous version as there are no notes about this containing a new mix.  Sounds are actually pretty clear, crisp and clean sounding that aren’t as rough as the video appears.

Low Frequency Extension:  Some decent work done with helicopter sounds as well as explosions and gunfire.

Surround Sound Presentation:  During the battle inside the house there is some good work in the rear speakers, but aside from that they are relatively unused.  The right and left interplay is pretty good.  Volume placement is accurate.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is loud, clean and crisp.

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Extras 

Dog Soldiers comes with a DVD Copy of the film.  The cover art is reversible featuring the original poster as an alternate image.

Audio Commentary

  • With Neil Marshall

Werewolves Vs. Soldiers (HD, 1:01:46) – The story of this production told by all its key players.  They impressively got Neil Marshall and crew as well as most of the cast including Kevin McKidd and Sean Pertwee back to look back and share insight on the making of the film.  There are many great anecdotes, like Kevin McKidd concealing a cracked rib while shooting.  Also McKidd actually punching Sean Pertwee in the nose.

A Cottage In The Woods (HD, 13:25) – The set designer goes over his work and has his model he used to stage everything before it came to realization.

Trailers (HD, 5:02)

Dog Soldiers Photo Gallery – Contains posters and promotional photos

Behind The Scenes Photo Gallery

“Combat” (HD, 7:36) – A short film by director Neil Marshall, starring 2 actors from Dog Soldiers.

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Summary 

Was this release worth waiting the year of delays?  Absolutely.  Dog Soldiers is never going to be a pretty looking movie as the high definition format exposes its 16mm sourcing.  But Scream Factory has managed to overcome any shortcomings and give a very nice presentation.  The retrospective documentary is enough to warrant this thing a purchase.  Its also got the nifty collector’s item of Neil Marshall’s short film “Combat”.  Definitely dig in and pre-order yourself a copy of this underlooked werewolf film.

Dog-Soldiers-Blu-ray

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

1 Response to “Dog Soldiers – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    I have loved everything Marshall went onto to do (including Doomsday very very much – my lawyer’s packaging girl worked as a creative consultant on that film) after this movie. I tried Dog Soldiers long time ago. Although I respect the ambition on no money, I could never get into this one. Gregg Senko loves it though.