There are films that are intended to be midnight movies from the very beginning, appealing to the “cult movie” or “b movie” crowd starting with the opening title and first scene. Dylan Dog: Dead of Night is definitely one of those films, a movie that’s full of dry voice over commentary, self-referential film jokes and a deliberately light touch with horror film tropes that add up to produce a surprisingly amusing horror comedy.
Dylan (Brandon Routh) is a private investigator who specializes in the seamy and sordid, skulking about and getting photos of unfaithful spouses in flagrante delicto. His side kick is the amusing and cowardly Marcus (Sam Huntington) and together they ply their trade out of an office that’s a clear nod to Sam Spade’s sloppy PI office in The Maltese Falcon.
The film opens with blonde waif Elizabeth (Anita Briem) preparing a meal for her father at the spooky Ryan Mansion in New Orleans (think of the famous exterior shot of Xanadu in Citizen Kane), just to find him murdered and a monster leaping out of her father’s study and into the darkness. The cops don’t believe the whole monster story but a priest gives her Dylan’s business card: “No pulse? No problem.”
It turns out that there’s a war brewing between the werewolves and the vampires, the former led by wise old Gabriel (Peter Stormare) and the latter led by Morpheus-like Vargas (Taye Diggs). Seems there’s this long-lost ceremonial silver cross that contains the blood of a 5,000 year old demon: stab someone undead with it and the demon takes over.
Sound like a bloody mess of different horror tropes and stereotypes, creatures that are scary even as they stick to well-known mythos about vampires and sunlight, werewolves and silver, zombies and decomposition? Dylan Dog definitely doesn’t break new ground but it’s surprisingly well assembled, the performances are all believable within context, and there is a semi-coherent narrative logic to the story that’s both engaging and entertaining. I went into the theater expecting to dislike this film, but was surprised to find that I quite enjoyed it.