Blu-ray Review: Deadgirl (15th Anniversary Edition)

Blu-ray Reviews, Reviews, Top Story

Normally I don’t pay too much attention to producer credits. The involvement of a producer in a production can be everything from they put the entire project together and handled every element to they merely had the rights to the original short story and never got closer to the set than a check. But when the Blu-ray box for Deadgirl arrived with the declaration “From the Producer of Hellraiser and Heathers,” I was eager to pop the disc in the player. Christopher Webster appears to have been hooked up with New World Films (post Roger Corman) in the late ’80s. While I can’t find a biography or interview with the producer, having those two credits shows that he has no problem working on films that aren’t family friendly. Barely 20 minutes into Deadgirl, this movie merges the sensibilities of Heathers and Hellraiser. This is about high schoolers learning dark pleasures from an undead character.

After a rough day at high school, Ricky (Evil Dead‘s Shiloh Fernandez) and J.T. (Knives Out‘s Noah Segan) head over to the abandoned mental hospital to commit mindless teenage vandalism. They drink, smoke and smash the remains in the decaying institution. They wander around the bowels of the building like hosts of a ghost hunting show. They’re keeping an eye out for lost drugs. They bust open a locked door. Instead of finding vintage narcotics, they discover an undressed and unconscious woman (American Girls‘ Jenny Spain) that’s been bound to a bed and wrapped in plastic. Instead of doing the proper thing and reporting this to the nearest authorities, J.T. has other plans. Even though the woman doesn’t look to be doing well, she’s breathing. The teenage boys get curious about her in the wrong ways. J.T. discovers that the woman is undead. Instead of being completely freaked out, J.T. decides to hump her. Ricky isn’t ready to hook up with the undead woman since he has a mad crush on Joann (The Vampire Diaries‘ Candice Accola). She’s dating a bonehead jock, but Ricky dreams that one day she’ll want to date him. Things get even more disturbing when J.T. brings over other guys for a chance to hook up with the woman in the basement. You can abandon the mental hospital, but the patients keep on coming.

Deadgirl is a remarkable film in that it pushes everything to an extreme. Anytime you think, they’re not going to do that…they do it. This isn’t too out of the realm for extremely stupid things teenage boys would be willing to do. Just scan the WTF stories that your friends keep posting in your timeline. There’s no authority figure to demand answers from the kids. They just keep up the insanity as they treat the woman in the basement as some sort of blow up doll. Except she’s not full of air and she’s very dangerous. I have no idea what executive producer Christopher Webster did on Deadgirl, but it would fit perfectly in a triple feature of Heathers and Hellraiser. This film is like Kids or River’s Edge except you discover there might not be one moral character left at the end of the movie. Deadgirl is still a disturbing film after 15 years.

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The Video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The 1080p resolution brings out the nastiness of the hospital’s basement. The Audio is 5.1 DTS-HD MA. There’s also an LPCM 2.0 mix if you don’t want to worry about sounds all around the viewing room. The movie is subtitled in English.

Interview with Co-Director Gadi Harel (14:29) has him talk trying to getting into the script and what it took to make it into a film. He talks about meeting Trent Haaga when they worked on Troma films.

Interview with Writer Trent Haaga (24:13) has him remember back longer than 15 years to when he came up with the script. He was working at Troma on Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV. He wanted branch out beyond Lloyd Kaufman’s sensibilities since he was one of many writers on the script. He tried to get Lloyd to make Deadgirl first, but he passed since it was not his style. He was told by others to not show the script since it was so repulsive. But he found two directors who wanted to make it.

Interview with Actor Noah Segan (17:55) gets into how he was shown the script while in North Carolina making Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever. When the film was showing at film festivals, people weren’t sure about him when they saw him after the screenings. He ponders if his character is evil or just stupid.

Interview with Actor Shiloh Fernandez (9:05) has him talk about the film wasn’t horror to him. He felt it was a Western that took place in high school. He talks about working with Jenny Spain and her commitment to the role. They originally wanted him to play J.T., but he auditioned for Ricky. He knew Noah Segan from Brick. After being cast, the two hung out and bonded so they could be able to play off each other when the camera rolled.

Interview with Special Makeup Effects Artist & Designer Jim Ojala (30:11) has talk about getting his start with Troma and knowing Trent. The writer asked Jim if he wanted to do the effects for Deadgirl. He talks about how the directors pushed the material. With the low budget, they picked the moments they needed the big effects. He gets into the complications of the puss scene. The test grossed him out.

Behind The Scenes Gallery (4:05) has the cast, crew and special effects. We also see the cameras used.

Extended Makeup FX Gallery (10:46) shows how they made Jenny Spain’s body look worse over the course of the film.

Audio Commentary with Cast & Crew has editor Phillip Blackford, music composer Joseph Bauer, writer Trent Haaga and actors Noah Segan and Shiloh Fernandez meeting up at Phillip’s house. There’s talk about how they didn’t want the high schoolers using cellphones so it wasn’t a commentary on today’s teens.

Audio Commentary by actor Jenny Spain has her excited to talk about the film since her character didn’t say much. Sandy Martin joins her for the talk. She wanted to do the part after reading the script. She related to the high school peer pressure element.

Exquisite Corpse: The Making of Deadgirl (7:14) has the directors talk about how they made horror films as teens. They hung out with Trent Haaga and looked at his scripts. This is the one Trent thought could never get made.

Jenny Spain’s Audition (1:58) is the tape she made to get the attention of the casting director.

Deleted Scenes (7:01) has the guys breaking into the hospital, a fight between Ricky and J.T., a drop off of a character and what should have been the after credit stinger.

Production Gallery (3:03) has black and white photos from the location, the poster mockups, their letter from the censors in Germany,

Theatrical Trailer (2:26) looks like a high school romance film until the two boys met the older and deader woman that would change their life.

Deadgirl Shooting Script (10:00) lets you see what they used on the set.

Deadgirl 2 First Draft (10:00) give the sequel that might be made.

Unearthed Films present Deadgirl: 15th Anniversary Edition. Directed by Marcel Sarmiento & Gadi Harel. Screenplay by Trent Haaga. Starring Shiloh Fernandez, Noah Segan, Candice King, Eric Podnar, Jenny Spain, Andrew DiPalma & Nolan Gerard Funk. Running Time: 101 Minutes. Rating: Unrated. Release Date: October 24, 2023.

Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.