Reviewed by: Zombie Boy
Damien A. Maruscak
What's it about
A soldier returns home after his tour in Iraq, and his family tries to help him adjust to life at home while he experience an illness that may be supernatural in nature.
Is it good movie?
Sgt. Bradley Robuck just got home from his tour in Iraq, in which at some point he experiences lost time and only remembers waking up later in a hospital with raging headaches, black and white vision, and no feeling in his legs. His family gamely tries to help him settle in and return to a normal life, planning a party to celebrate his homecoming and fixing up the house to help him get around in his chair. But as Brad’s condition deteriorates it becomes impossible to deny that these is something very wrong with him.
Toe Tag Pictures is not really known for the subtlety and introspection of their work, so I must first note that Sella Turcica really, really tries. It channels Bob Clark’s fabulous Deathdream, in that a soldier who was presumed dead comes home from the war, but comes home…different (it also nods to that film with a scene involving a dog). For most of the running time, Sella Turcica is quiet, and attempts to illustrate how combat conditions can deteriorate the human mind, and the toll war takes on everyone from the locals, to the soldiers, to the soldiers’ families.
The problem is, the movie doesn’t really accomplish that. It gets way bogged down in Brad’s sister’s relationship with her annoying DJ boyfriend, and Brad’s physical troubles are not well-paced throughout the film. They start a little too slowly, and finally explode in a rampage of gore in the last 15-minutes of the film. The film is well made in most respects, particularly the scoring, and the gore at the end is extremely good. We’re taking animatronics here. It just feels like a cheat, like, we tried to be subtle earlier, but if you didn’t get it, here’s somebody getting the top half of their head ripped off.
I do want to make a special note of Damien Maruscak, who plays Brad. While a lot of the acting in the film is mediocre at best (including Camille Keaton, from I Spit On Your Grave) Maruscak really plumbs some depths for his character. He is convincing in pretty much every scene, and is particularly fun to watch when he does his Deadite walk at the end. He also wears heavy makeup in every scene in the film, including one where he poops oil in his sleep. Gotta give him credit for tenacity.
Video / Audio
Video: Screener, but clearly shot on video.
Audio: Again, screener, but the sound is fine.
Commentary with director Fred Vogel and star Damien Maruscak: The commentary is done without film sound, which is a bummer in one way, but on the other hand forces the commentators to never be silent. Luckily Vogel has lots to say; Maruscak adds information at a more metered pace.
Deleted Scenes: There are three deleted scenes, all very quick and of little import. Oh, if only the bizarre dance scene was here instead of in the finished film.
Behind the Scenes Photos: A five-minute slideshow mainly showing special effects BTS stuff.
Making of Fulci’s Death: Kind of a spoiler alert, but this is a piece detailing the creation of the effect used to show Brad eating the family pooch. They used real possum and raccoon intestines. Eww. Apparently the cameraman actually went outside to puke during the scene.
Outtakes: About two-minutes of outtakes. Nothing terrible interesting, but there is one funny scene where Maruscak looks into the camera.
On-Set Photos: Another slideshow, this one of publicity stills.
Tattoos On Set: A quick piece about Sean P. McCarthy, who played Brad’s brother, Bruce, giving a crew members tattoos.
There is also a collection of trailers for Toe Tag movies, including this one.
Sella Turcica tries really hard. It does. Unfortunately its dramatic portion is overwrought and its gore freak-out ending feels like a cheat to make the movie more memorable than it deserves to be, even if said gore is fantastic. There are plenty of great psychological soldier-coming-home dramas, so other than Damien Maruscak’s great performance, I would say to just watch a Born on the Fourth of July/Deathdream double-feature instead.