Dog Soldiers (Collector’s Edition) Blu-ray + DVD
Director: Neil Marshall
Screenwriter: Neil Marshall
Cast: Kevin McKidd, Sean Pertwee, Darren Morfitt, Emma Cleasby, Liam Cunningham, Chris Robson Scream Factory
Rated R | 105 Minutes
Release Date: June 23, 2015
Written and directed by Neil Marshall (The Descent), Dog Soldiers is a horror-thriller about a squad of six British Army soldiers dispatched to the Scottish Highlands on a training mission.
Private Cooper (Kevin McKidd), Sergeant Harry G. Wells (Sean Pertwee), Private “Spoon” Witherspoon (Darren Morfitt), and their fellow compatriots encounter Captain Richard Ryan (Liam Cunningham) – the sole survivor of a Special Ops mission gone horribly wrong.
Off-kilter and cryptic as all get-out, Captain Ryan refuses to disclose his top secret mission – or what slaughtered his men – to the group. Before the soldiers can get control of the situation, they’re attacked by stealthy assailants. Help comes in the form of Megan (Emma Cleasby), a zoologist who leads the remaining men to a deserted farmhouse in the wilderness. As darkness falls, the decrepit shelter is surrounded by their attackers – a pack of bloodthirsty werewolves.
When I think of Dog Soldiers, I think about first discovering it on the shelves of my local video store back in the early 2000s. The box art included the greatest pull quote of all time: “Jaws, Aliens, and Predator with a werewolf twist!” Three of my favorite movies, AND werewolves!? Seeing this bold statement, along with the red-eyed lycanthropes on the cover, I had no choice but to rent it immediately.
At the time, I considered Dog Soldiers to be one of the best werewolf movies ever – it was suspenseful and relentless, with impressive practical effects and plenty of gore. After revisiting Marshall’s film for this review of Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray release, I’m left wondering why I was so blown away by it back in ’02.
It could be the newly remastered picture, which is grainy as hell. Of course, this is a 2K scan of a film that was shot on 16mm, so grain is a given. According to the new commentary track, Marshall says this new Blu-ray almost didn’t happen as initially they failed to find the original film materials. They eventually lucked out by tracking down a couple of prints from Pathé, the company that originally distributed the film.
It’s hard to go from Scream Factory’s recent releases like Mad Max and Escape from New York – which are flawless – to this extremely grainy, low-budget flick without feeling a tinge of sadness. It seems that this is the best Dog Soldiers will ever look, and yet I think I’d rather watch the old DVD instead. This new transfer reveals the film’s shortcomings instead of highlighting what it does well.
Regardless of presentation, I found the story lacking this time around, with too much downtime between werewolf attacks. Far too much time is spent trying to develop characters who just aren’t that interesting. Filled with stale conflicts and clichés, the film’s enduring calling card is its cool creature design and gnarly, gore-tastic practical effects. It isn’t a bad film at all, but Dog Soldiers simply doesn’t stand the test of time.
For devotees of Neil Marshall, however, this release will prove definitive. Scream Factory has gone above and beyond in delivering horror fans the goods with a new audio commentary track and mini-docs that detail the making of the film with new interviews with the cast and crew.
Dog Soldiers wants to be Jaws, Aliens, and Predator with a werewolf twist, but it can’t live up to the hype. Personally, I find Scream Factory’s other werewolf releases, The Howling and Ginger Snaps, to be superior films with better high-definition transfers.
Scream Factory’s Dog Soldiers is now available in a Blu-ray + DVD collector’s edition. You can purchase the set at Amazon. For a full list of bonus features, cover art and trailers, look below!
* NEW 2K scan HD transfer supervised by Neil Marshall
* NEW audio commentary with Neil Marshall
* NEW The Making Of DOG SOLDIERS: New interviews with Neil Marshall, Christopher Figg, Keith Bell, Kevin McKidd, Sean Pertwee, Darren Morfitt, Leslie Simpson, Emma Cleasby, Bob Keen and more!
* NEW A look at the sets created by production designer Simon Bowles
* Neil Marshall’s Short Film: Combat
* Theatrical Trailer and Still Galleries