Film Threat archive logo


By Steve Anderson | October 8, 2005

“Dead West.” Ah, “Dead West”…you were a strange little package. You were an odd intermingling of insult and beauty, packaged around a storyline with so much potential that you shot yourself in the foot by virtue of not taking the time to pursue every angle. You wasted so much potential, and you had SUCH potential, that I can barely even bring myself to discuss it.

But I’ll try.

So what we have here is the story of Elizabeth, whose horse throws her in the middle of the desert. Wandering around, hurt and shaken, she finds her way to a small cluster of people in the midst of a ramshackle town that looks like a boom town on its last legs.

Elizabeth and company soon realize that they aren’t by themselves in this little run-down town…and that the town itself is far more than it seems to be.

Oh, and one more thing…the nightlife in this town’s a killer.

At first glance, one would think the Sasich brothers (I’m guessing they’re brothers, anyway) have been watching too many old Full Moon titles. There’s a film from them, “Talisman”, if I remember correctly, that starts out in largely the same fashion. Of course, “Dead Town” features a good number of improvements, but there’s at least a passing similarity. But later, we discover there are some significant differences.

The sepia toned flashback sequence around the nine minute mark is an excellent touch, and the true face of the lawman at fourteen and a half minutes is also surprisingly well done–better than several other DTV releases with distribution deals I could describe.

But as is the case with most movies of such a short runtime, pervasive questions go unanswered. For instance, the lawman lays out five silver dollars on a table around the beginning of the story. And after he collects his first criminal, he takes one back. When he returns for the second, he takes two. But why? Coming back for the preacher a third time he takes only one, leaving one behind. And again, why? We never truly know and I find this irritating in the extreme.

It’s not that I mind short films.

I just want a complete story told!

The ending is baffling at best. What happened to Elizabeth after the hanging? Who was the little mute boy? What was the deal with the silver dollars?

What, who, what again…the signs of an incomplete story.

The special features include a copy of the screen play, two trailers, the anatomy of an effects shot, and what they refer to as “promotional materials”, which is basically a stills gallery.

Oh, and they even included a soundtrack disk, which actually is pretty nice. They did do a fantastic job with the soundtrack.

And in what is possibly one of the biggest slaps to my face yet, they actually had the unmitigated gall to include a thirteen and a half minute making-of featurette. They took half as long as the movie itself to tell me about how the movie was made when they didn’t even bother to show a complete movie in the first place!

Guys, seriously…why would I, or anyone else, want to know how you made your half-finished movie?

All in all, “Dead West” pretty much proves if you’re going to do a short film, make sure you at least do an ENTIRE film.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join our Film Threat Newsletter

Newsletter Icon