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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

 

directed by Rob Walker
UK 1986

 

In the BBC television noir DEAD HEAD, small-time crook Eddie Cass (Denis Lawson, STAR WARS) makes the mistake of agreeing to transport a package from South London to Regent's Park. When no one is at the other end to accept the package, he opens it and discovers the severed head of a young woman. He ditches the package, but finds himself in the middle of a surreal, byzantine conspiracy involving the police, MI-5, his ex-wife Dana (Lindsay Duncan, THE REFLECTING SKIN), England's upper crust, and a "Jack the Ripper"-esque killer whose crimes will be pinned on him unless he can expose the killer himself. This, however, involves trusting a number of people who can betray him or be killed in the blink of an eye (including longtime friends). Over the course of four episodes, DEAD HEAD takes us from London to Glasgow, into tenements, warehouses, country houses, bars, pubs, and clubs; and true its film noir roots, each successive sign of hope for the protagonist raises just as much dread with the possibility of a double-cross or murderous intervention as the scenario degenerates further and further into a waking nightmare.

As much a noir as a caustic statement about patriotism, DEAD HEAD starts off looking badly-dated with its gauzy eighties photography (further diffused by plenty of dry ice fog) and synthesizer music (not to mention some Eddy Grant on the soundtrack); however, it quickly becomes a compelling paranoia thriller in which omnipotent forces seem to be messing with poor Eddie's head as much as the that of the writer is with the audience, and one's revulsion with the film's representatives of power matches that of the not-always-sympathetic hero (you can't even call him an antihero in noir terms, because everyone else seems so much more rotten). The ending can't help but disappoint (especially if you've watched all four episodes back-to-back in anticipation) even though it's incredibly, cynically appropriate; however, one can argue that the journey is worth the effort. Simon Callow and Norman Beaton also star.

Eric Cotenas

Theatrical Release: 15 January 1986 - 5 February 1986 (UK)

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DVD Review: Eureka Video - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Eureka Video

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 191:14
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles English SDH, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Eureka Video

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• DISC ONE:
• Episode 1: Why Me? (4:3; 47:06)
• Episode 2: Anything for England (4:3; 48:16)
• Audio Commentary by writer Howard Brent on both episodes
• DISC TWO:
• Episode 3: The War Room (4:3; 48:14)
• Episode 4: The Patriot (4:3; 47:38)
• Deleted Scenes (4:3; 12:58)

DVD Release Date: April 15th, 2013
Amaray

Chapters 12

 

Comments

Eureka Video's dual-layer, two-disc set of this eighties TV production probably looks as good as it can since the production was shot on film but finished on video (add to the digitized analog video resolution several scenes where the light is diffused by film noir dry ice fog). The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio is clean and the optional SDH subtitles sometimes help more with the accents than any issues of volume in the dialogue.

Writer Howard Brenton sporadically comments on the first two episodes, detailing his shared stage background with the director Rob Walker and previous collaborations with the actors. He also makes mention of the network's cost-cutting concerns (not realizing that the fox hunting party were all locals doing it for fun rather than paid extras), and is forthcoming about Walker's innovations to the script's visualization. Twelve minutes of deleted scenes are also included on the second disc (much of which is an extended version of the first episode's opening sequence).

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Eureka Video

Region 2 - PAL

 




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