Dead Again (1991) — A murder mystery across multiple lifetimes

“Nothing can separate them…. not even death.”

Justin’s rating: “Groovy, like FARRRR out! like, whoa!”

Justin’s review: Interesting… a murder mystery about a murder that both happened fifty years ago and has yet to happen. Well, that’s what you get when today’s quirky movie writers and stars collaborate on a small-budget film with a (gasp!) plot. I really won’t spoil the secret for you (but don’t take your eyes off the cat for an instant. . . ) (always play with their minds), but I suppose I can comment on a few things.

Dead Again has two parallel plot lines, both revolving around a murder, a diamond anklet, and reincarnation. Kenneth (“I was the serious musketeer!”) Brahawhatever and Emma (“I’ve played every movie librarian you’ve ever seen”) Thompson play double roles, as husband and wife in the past, and as detective and amnesiac in the present. Of course, Kenneth gets the girl both times; in the past since he’s an accomplished musician and a suave romancer, and in the present ’cause amnesiacs staying at your place are pretty hard to resist hitting on.

Some other big name stars, such as Robin (“[bad word] you”) Williams and Andy (“My hair is very greasy”) Garcia, flesh out the story in very weird and interesting ways. Oh, and there’s lots of scissor imagery (the murder weapon). Just in case you might miss it, the camera is compelled like a magnet to focus closely on any and all scissors in any scene, with threatening bass music to hammer the point in.

And for those who the director really didn’t think could handle the dual plot, there’s a little helping tip for you to sort things out: The past is filmed in black and white, and the present in all-Kenneth color! Watch it and feel sophisticated… but don’t underestimate the plot. Yours truly saw the film twice in five years, and both times couldn’t figure out the murderer until it was apparent (so, I have a lousy memory. Maybe girls will take me in like Emma and hit on me if I don’t speak.).

Andie’s rating: I can’t come up with a cute little rating for this movie, but let’s just say I thought it was damn good

Andie’s review: Okay, something you have to understand about me is that I love to be scared. I love nothing more than to rent a scary movie and watch it in my basement all by myself, then be afraid to go up to my room once it is over. However, it takes a lot to scare me nowadays, but Dead Again is one of the best.

I’m not even going to try to explain the plot, except that it involves Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh as sort of the same characters in present day and in the 1940s. They’re not exactly the same people, but kind of. Anyway. It involves a murder in the flashbacks that was never properly solved and the prevention of a murder in the present. And a beautiful diamond anklet is very important. I know it sounds confusing and dumb, but it’s not. It is very creepy and it actually had my fooled right up until the end, when they tell you who the killer is. (It turns out to be the Log Lady). Ha ha, I wonder who will get that reference.

There are also great supporting roles by Andy Garcia (oh my, he is so hot), Newman from Seinfeld, and Robin Williams. And the flashbacks are very cooly filmed in black and white, which adds an air of mystery and creepiness. This comes highly recommended on my list of cool suspense movies.

PoolMan’s rating: Snip! Snip! Snip! Snip! Snip!

PoolMan’s review: You know, back when I was just a fan read of the Mutant Reviewers, I read this review, and laughed my ASS off when I read “Kenneth Brahawhatever.” I don’t know what it was, but I still can’t even type it without cracking up. However, credit where credit is due; Kenneth Brannaugh is a great actor. I happen to think, by the way, that Emma Thompson is a beyootiful (Canadian spelling) woman. She is so damned sexy; the elegant accent, the soft facial features, the lovely brown hair… she’s one of those women you could walk into a ballroom with, and everyone turns to look at the lovely creature on your arm. Just thought I’d mention that.

Anyways, I digress. This is supposed to be a movie review! This film had me and my (then) girlfriend in utter confusion. The good kind. Dead Again takes a complex lead in (the amnesiac, the dual story, the scissor imagery) and twists it into a beautiful piece of film work that I try to see about once every year or so (I remember how it ends, but when you start forgetting details and watch it again, you’re still drawn in). I won’t ruin the ending for you either, but don’t take your eyes off of Justin…

I won’t go on for a long time (for once… I must be increasing download times around the world with some of my reviews), but this one falls under the “creepy mystery you will watch again and again” category, and lovingly so. It’s so rare nowadays for a movie with a real, honest to goodness plot to become accepted. I hope you give it a chance.

Kyle’s rating: More than ten years after the title fooled me, I can still dig it.

Kyle’s review: Without going too much into anecdotal nonsense (SEE: other Kyle reviews) let me just say my grandma is a video pirate, and always let us borrow movies whenever we wanted. So when I got into the video closet and had a jacket with big pockets, I was going after the movies that you might expect I would . . . no, not pornos. What? I meant horror movies. Pornos? Is this why you wouldn’t marry me? You think I’m a creepy sicko! I . . . I just want to be loved! Wah! Wah!

So, anyway, I was after the sickest, grossest horror films I could find. I knew they were there because my grandma loves horror and had every Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street installment there was. So when I saw the title Dead Again I just knew it had to involve rapidly decaying zombies attempting to right wrongs until they dissolved into messy liquid goop.

Only without Joe Piscopo, hopefully.

Naturally, just like my “I think there’s gold in the moon and we can reach it!” and “Can you probe your brain through your nose to improve memory and math skills?” shenanigans, my initial plan utterly failed. But as usual, what did happen was just as good, if not better, than what I intended. Which is sort of like Dead Again, in that the past greatly influences (or seems to) the present, and everyone who lived back then looks exactly like people who live now (because of the doppelganger theory that says there are only enough body and face types to fill up a large city and if you go elsewhere you’ll meet your exact double [try it! It works!]), and the past was black and white until The Beatles came to America.

Also, Robin Williams likes to do dark, heavy dramatic stuff when he is unbilled, and no two Mutant reviewers spell “Kenneth Branagh” the same.

So why bring up Dead Again after like 11 years? Because it’s a really cool mystery, which is somewhat rare nowadays, Kenneth Branagh rules (yea!), and I still have my grandma’s copy of this movie and I just watched it the other day after I found it in a box. And it’s still a very engrossing story with excellent acting. Apparently the DVD commentary by director Branagh brings in some Shakespeare in-jokes hidden in the film. Now I must have it! Argh!

But you don’t have to be a die-hard Shakespeare aficionado to get into Dead Again, you just have to appreciate a slick, stylish thriller that has gotten criminally overlooked through the years and that you can probably share a knowing wink with the video clerk over when you go to rent it. That’s always fun!

3 comments

  1. I really like this film. I discovered it when I first got into Derek Jacobi. He could make just about anything great, anyways.

    • This was my first sight of Sir Derek Jacobi too. He can indeed make what he appears in great as he did when playing the Master in Doctor Who.

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