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“WYRMWOOD: ROAD OF THE DEAD” (Blu-ray Review)

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While the marketing materials may try to sell Kiah Roache-Turner’s WYRMWOOD: ROAD OF THE DEAD as a cross between MAD MAX and DAWN OF THE DEAD, this fantastic independent zombie flick is much closer to something like THE SIGNAL (2007) or DARKMAN. Though WYRMWOOD offerings more than enough blood, violence and turbo-charged insanity to come off as ROAD WARRIOR-esque, the film is also surprisingly emotional while exploring different, more sci-fi oriented avenues than one might expect. But in doing this, WYRMWOOD’s weird streak allows it to stand among the recently saturated zombie film market to be something truly memorable and fun, reminding the audience how far one can stretch a dollar with the right amount of imagination and gore FX.

WYRMWOOD’s narrative follows a pair of siblings during the dawn of a zombie apocalypse and their struggle to reunite with one another. On one hand, you have the brother, Barry, who attempts to save his family from the onslaught of zombies and finds himself slipping further and further from sanity. On the other hand, you have the sister, Brooke, who has to kill her infected friends only to find herself as a military captive. And in between them lays survivalists, mad scientists, trigger-happy allies and a hell of a lot of zombies, all of which are mean, hungry and surprisingly gassy.

Thanks to a subversive and chaotic script from director Kiah Roache-Turner and his brother, Tristan, WYRMWOOD fires on all cylinders, making something unique and fresh out of a quite tired subgenre. WYRMWOOD also benefits greatly from Tim Nagle’s sharp, colorful lens and a bombastic score from Michael Lira, both of which gives the film an ‘80s-esque tone to match its old-school concept. And the film’s cast- which includes Jay Gallagher, Bianca Bradey and Leon Burchill- are an exceptional sort, delivering laughs and wit during the moments of levity just as easily as they wring intimate emotion out of the dramatic scenes.

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And thanks to the folks at Scream Factory, WYRMWOOD: ROAD OF THE DEAD hits blu-ray in a big way, stuffed with extras and an appropriately great transfer. On the video side of things, WYRMWOOD is surprisingly clear, especially in the scenes soaked with vibrant, polarizing colors; you can basically feel the grim in Nagle’s close-ups with the provided picture quality. Meanwhile, Scream Factory once again delivers with their audio transfer, providing an excellent range and fidelity guaranteed to please those with more decked-out home theaters.

As mentioned before, WYRMWOOD comes with a wealth of extra content, including two great crowdfunding videos, storyboards, trailers, a 7-minute variant attack scene, and a light yet informative commentary track featuring both Roache-Turner brothers. However, the first major highlight of the disc comes with the 50-minute in-depth behind-the-scenes documentary, appropriately titled “The Wyrmdiaries”, which really shows the effort and scope of the independent production, as well as the atmosphere on set. The second highlight comes in the form of nearly 20 minutes of deleted scenes, including some that were shot with entire different storylines in mind while others provide a very fun look at scenes that ran too long or added too much screentime to smaller characters.

Overall, WYRMWOOD: ROAD OF THE DEAD is definitely one of the year’s highlights, and should play as a thrilling throwback to fright fans who have even fallen out of love with the zombie craze. And lucky for the film, Scream Factory gives WYRMWOOD the home media release the film- and fans- deserve, providing some of the most entertaining extras that could go alongside such an entertaining feature. It’s a fantastic set, which is all-too-rare for contemporary releases, and earns FANGO’s highest recommendation.

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About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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