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Dead on Arrival

Dead on Arrival poster
Emmy nominated Billy Flynn stars in an ensemble cast as Sam Collins, a pharmaceutical sales rep who visits a small town in Louisiana to close the business deal of a lifetime. He finds himself in a dark world of sex, corruption and murder as he is poisoned with no antidote to save his life. Desperate for answers, with less than 24 hours to live, Sam turns to a local girl Jesse. Their path leads to a voodoo priestess who only confirms Sam's doomed fate. On the run, caught in a deadly vertigo with no one to trust, Sam and Jesse find themselves running from police detectives, the Mob and a dirty sheriff who wants him dead.

Inspired by the 1950 classic noir thriller D.O.A. I TrailerTwitter I Facebook I Festival bookings


Fin Fatal: DEAD ON ARRIVAL review

Directed and written by Stephen C. Sepher  USA  2017  (97 minutes)


This is a brilliantly atmospheric, engaging and stylish contemporary adult  thriller with a cultish pedigree, as it is inspired by  a famous film noir from 195O, also called D.O.A, which due  to a copywright confusion slipped into the public domain and has already been variously remade, Down Under, as Color me Dead (1969) and as D.O.A (1988), starring Dennis Quaid as the moribund hero, and even more recently as an award-winning stage musical. This latest version is most cleverly scripted by the up-and-coming director  Stephen C.Sepher (who also wrote, co-starred and was a producer of Heist) and who also contributes a commendable on-screen role as a crime supremo with heart and humour. The original premise of the main character collapsing at the start of the film ,evidently due to some mysterious but implacable poison, with the main body of the story an extended flashback told to police detectives, showing  how  he searched for his murderer, gradually realising his unwitting part in a complex criminal plot, has been ingeniously updated, and not without some fiendishly ironic nods to the original. Instead of Edmond O’Brien’s hapless Frank Bigelow the anti-hero searching for a non-existent antidote is here a younger sales rep for pharmaceuticals, Sam Collins(strikingly played by Billy Flynn, something of a new-comer to cinema but with extensive TV experience and surely a star in the making) who is invited to the New Year’s Eve party of a distinguished but peroxided doctor(Billy Slaughter, suitably slimy)  in his Louisiana mansion,  ostensibly for a profitable deal.

A heady alternative backdrop to the  San Francisco convention week  of the  original this glittery setting presents many of the top-notch ensemble cast, convincingly fleshing out seedy mobsters, pervy local big-wigs, corrupt cops  and casual hookers as the night descends into debauchery and Sam is caught in the poisonous web without realising the role he has to play. Subsequently he visits a colourful strip joint, and the residence of a voodoo priestess who attempts to exorcise the toxin. All the locations, inside and exteriors are handsomely caught in the excellent wide-screen cinematography by John Garrett.

The film is fast-paced and another murder catapults the plot along as Sam realises many of the characters are not who or even what they appear to be. There are a couple of splendid mid-price thugs whose repartee rivals that of the gangsters in Kiss me Kate (plaudits for Lillo Brancato as the follicly-challenged Zanca), and just when you think the crooked cop is going  to  best the one local decent policeman ,no less a thespian than D.B. Sweeney, arrives as the detective in charge…..but I must not reveal any more spoilers, though  even if you have seen the original film  you will not be able to guess how this will end.

Happily,  it is not just  the twists and turns of the plot, or the lively  direction, but it is the spot-on casting of all the ensemble that makes this such an entertaining departure. More or less familiar faces perfectly  bring to life both male and female roles – and even one that is apparently both- and there  is an occasional frisson not so much of Tarantinoesque violence but of sensual yet tasteful eroticism and a dash of kinkiness such as seasoned thrillers back in the 1960s. If  you do recall the first D.O.A., you can pat yourself on the back for spotting a cameo from Edmond O’Brien’s daughter, Maria.

This should prove to be a hit with festival groupies, and enthusiasts of off-beat crime-thrillers, and should help propel writer-director and many of the players on to studio work. This is a very commendable independent production,  with sufficient production values and splendid locations that justify viewings on any festival or cinema screen



Days of Our Lives' Billy Flynn's "Dead On Arrival" Receives Positive Review!

Film Critic, UK, member of Fipresci Phillip Bergson contributes to many media including

Winner of the Student Journalist of the Year competition in the UK weekly New Statesman, as a Classics Scholar Phillip Bergson then founded the Oxford Film Festival and, on graduating, was selected by "The Sunday Times" as a 'New Critic' and in the same week began broadcasting on film for many BBC Radio programmes. A contributor to the "Times Literary Supplement", "TES", "Screen International", "Film Bulletin", "Film a Doba" inter alia, he also worked for the "European Script Fund", has scripted shorts and features (that have been produced and released) and, fluent in eight-and-a-half languages, currently programmes and advises several international film festivals. At the National Media Museum in his native Yorkshire, he created the "Eurovisions" project, to promote classic and contemporary European cinema.

As a Jury Member

·         in 57th Berlinale 2007

·         in 7th Bratislava International Film Festival 2005

·         in 5th Lecce Festival of European Cinema 2004

·         in 51st Berlinale - Berlin International Film Festival 2001

·         in 54th Locarno International Film Festival 2001

·         in 20th Haifa International Film Festival 2004

·         in 34th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival 1999

·         in 16th Istanbul International Film Festival 1997

·         in 9th Festroia International Film Festival 1993

·         in 43rd International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film 2000

·         in 48th International Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg 1999

·         in 41st Thessaloniki International Film Festival 2000

·         in 33rd Viennale - Vienna International Film Festival 1995

·         in 41st International Film Festival Mannheim-Heidelberg 1992

·         in 37th International Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg 1988

·         in 39th International Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg 1990

·         in 39th Montreal World Film Festival 2015

·         in 45th International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film 2002

·         in 16th Riga International Film Forum Arsenals 2002

·         in 9th Cottbus Festival of East European Cinema 1999