Saturday, December 3, 2022

Yes, Madam! – Eureka Video (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1985
Director: Corey Yuen
Writers: James Clouse, Barry Wong
Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Cynthia Rothrock, John Sham, Hoi Mang, Tsui Hark, James Tien, Dick Wei, Fat Chung, Melvin Wong, Wai Shum

Release Date: December 12th, 2022
Approximate running times: 93 Minutes 49 Seconds (Theatrical Cut), 87 Minutes 33 Seconds (Export Cut)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Both Versions)
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono Cantonese (Theatrical Mix), LPCM Mono Cantonese (Home Video Mix), DTS-HD 5.1 English (Home Video Mix) (Theatrical Cut), LPCM Mono English (Classic Dub) (Export Cut)
Subtitles: English
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £17.99 (UK)

"Michelle Yeoh and Cynthia Rothrock star as a couple of tough-as-nails police inspectors investigating the murder of a British agent, which leads them to a pair of unlucky thieves (Mang Hoi and John Shum) who need protection from a ruthless crime boss (James Tien).." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.5/5 (Theatrical Cut), 4.25/5 (Export Cut)

Here’s the information provided about the transfer, "The original theatrical cut from a brand new 2K restoration. The international export cut from a brand new 2K restoration."

Yes, Madam! comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 44.9 GB

Feature: 27 GB (Theatrical Cut), 13.8 GB (Export Cut)

The sources used for both versions are in excellent shape. Colors and flesh tones look correct; image clarity, black levels, and compression are solid.

Audio: 4.25/5 (LPCM Mono Cantonese (Home Video Mix), DTS-HD 5.1 English (Home Video Mix) - Theatrical Cut), 4/5 (LPCM Mono Cantonese (Theatrical Mix) - Theatrical Cut), 4.25/5 (LPCM Mono English (Classic Dub) - Export Cut)

The theatrical cut comes with three audio options, a LPCM mono mix in Cantonese (theatrical mix), a LPCM mono mix in Cantonese (home video mix), and a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English (home video mix). All three tracks sound clean, clear, and balanced. Range-wise, ambient sounds are well-represented, and fight scenes sound robust. That said, the Cantonese track labeled "theatrical mix" does not sound as full as the two other tracks. Also, there are removable English subtitles for the Cantonese language tracks.

The export cut comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in English (Classic Dub). This audio track sounds clean, clear, balanced, and robust when it should.

Extras:

Extras for this release include a theatrical trailer (4 minutes 23 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Cantonese with removable English subtitles), UK home video trailer (1 minute 21 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), archival featurette tilted Battling Babes (10 minutes 24 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival interview with actress Michelle Yeoh (15 minutes 6 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with actor Mang Hoi titled A Conversation with Mang Hoi (15 minutes 34 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Chinese with removable English subtitles), an interview with actress Cynthia Rothrock titled Cynthia Rothrock on Yes, Madam! (20 minutes 14 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), scene select audio commentary with Cynthia Rothrock (12 minutes 19 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an audio commentary with Asian film experts Frank Djeng (NY Asian Film Festival) and Michael Worth for the theatrical cut, an audio commentary with action cinema experts Mike Leeder and Arne Venema for the theatrical cut, reversible cover art, a limited edition O-card slipcase (2000 copies only), and a twenty-four page booklet (2000 copies only) with cast & crew information, an essay written by James Oliver and information about the transfer titled Notes on Viewing.

Summary:

Yes, Madam! has had numerous alternate English language titles, like In the Line of Duty 2, Police Assassins, and Super Cops. Yes, Madam! is the second film in a series of seven films that make up the In the Line of Duty series. The first two films, In the Line of Duty (Royal Warriors) and In the Line of Duty 2 (Yes, Madam!) both featured Michelle Yeoh in the title role, while the remaining films featured Cynthia Khan in the title role. Yes, Madam! was directed by Corey Yuen, whose other notable films include Righting Wrongs (Above the Law), The Transporter, and So Close.

Yes, Madam! covers ground that has been covered in a slew of Hong Kong action films. And yet, despite the familiarity of the narrative, the film manages to stand on its own due to exceptional performances from Michelle Yeoh and James Tien. Yes, Madam! is also significant for being the first starring role for Michelle Yeoh, whose later film credits include Police Story 3: Supercop, Tomorrow Never Dies, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. She had two minor film roles before Yes, Madam!, and even at this early stage of her career, she proves that she is more than capable of holding her own in action sequences.

My favorite moment in Yes, Madam! involves Michelle Yeoh’s character, Inspector Ng, who is hanging upside down on a balcony while two bad guys try to knock her over the edge. The railing she is hanging on is glass, which she breaks through and pulls the two guys off the ledge to the floor below.

Another standout performance is by James Tien, who plays Tin, the lead bad guy in the film. He hams it up as the diabolical Tin. His character has a laughing fetish and even goes so far as to remark on how much he loves laughing. Another performance of note is Cynthia Rothrock in one of her first starring roles. She proves that she can hold her own against her male counterparts, and her chemistry with Michelle Yeoh is off the charts.

From a production standpoint, there is no area where Yes, Madam! does not deliver and then some. The briskly paced narrative is a satisfying mix of action set pieces and offbeat humor. The best action sequence is saved for an exceptional finale. Also, the score, like so many martial arts and action films from the 1970s and 1980s, features music cues lifted from other movies. Yes, Madam! uses the musical cue "The Shape Talks" from John Carpenter’s Halloween. Ultimately, Yes, Madam! is a high water mark for 1980s martial arts cinema that features some of the most jaw-dropping action set pieces to ever appear in a Hong Kong film.








Written by Michael Den Boer

Friday, December 2, 2022

The Psychic: Special Edition – Scorpion Releasing (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1977
Director: Lucio Fulci
Writers: Lucio Fulci, Roberto Gianviti, Dardano Sacchetti
Cast: Jennifer O’Neill, Gabriele Ferzetti, Marc Porel, Gianni Garko, Evelyn Stewart

Release Date: July 16th, 2019
Approximate running time: 97 Minutes 23 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: R
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Italian, DTS-HD Mono English
Subtitles: English
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $32.95

"Jennifer O’Neill (Scanners, Lady Ice) stars as Virginia, who experiences clairvoyant clues to a violent crime that ends with the victim walled up alive. Her investigation soon uncovers a hidden corpse and a shocking secret that could make her the killer’s next target." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "Brand New 2K Scan of the Original Camera Negative. With additional color correction."

The Psychic comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 33.8 GB

Feature: 23.3 GB

Though the source that was used for this transfer is in great shape, there are some minor instances of print-related debris. Colors are nicely saturated, flesh tones look correct, contrast, black levels, and image clarity look strong throughout, and there are no issues with compression.

Audio: 4/5 (DTS-HD Mono Italian), 3.75/5 (DTS-HD Mono English)

This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in Italian and a DTS-HD mono mix in English. Scorpion Releasing documented on their Facebook page the amount of extra work that they put into clearing up the audio for this release. And both audio mixes sound very good. Dialog comes through clearly; everything sounds balanced, and the ambient sounds and score are well-represented. The English language track is the slightly stronger of these two audio mixes. The dialog on the Italian mix at times sounds constrained when compared to the English language track. Included with this release are removable English subtitles for the Italian language track.

Extras:

Extras for this release include reversible cover art, a theatrical trailer (1 minute 6 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), a still gallery with music from the film paying in the background (lobby cards/stills/posters), an interview with screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti titled Defeating Fate (50 minutes 14 seconds, DTS-HD stereo Italian with non-removable English subtitles) and an audio commentary with film historian Troy Howarth.

Other extras include trailers for The Church, Murder Rock, Blind Date, Rituals, and The House on Sorority Row.

Summary:

Though The Psychic is widely regarded as a giallo, the look and feel of the film are more in line with supernatural and Gothic horror films made in Italy in the 1960s. And out of the five giallo films that Lucio Fulci directed, The Psychic most resembles his first giallo, Perversion Story (One on Top of the Other).

Early on, Lucio Fulci builds tension as Virginia drives through a series of tunnels on her way home after dropping her husband off at the airport. In this scene, Virginia's visions foreshadow events that are about to occur.

Without a doubt, The Psychic's weakest link is its special effects. In the opening moments, there’s an obvious mannequin that falls off a cliff. Lucio Fulci attempted this same effect in Don’t Torture a Duckling. This shot is hampered by the fact that Lucio Fulci insists on showing us up close the damage done to the body rather than taking a wider shot and hiding some of the limitations of these special effects.

The Psychic’s score was composed by the trio of Franco Bixio, Fabio Frizzi, and Vince Tempera. And, aside from the opening credits theme, it sounds like a cross between ABBA and The Carpenters. The rest of The Psychic’s score sounds like the type of music that could have been in Lucio Fulci’s horror films that he directed in the early 1980s. Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Volume 1 would feature a musical cue from The Psychic.

Casting wise, The Psychic has a strong cast that’s led by Jennifer O’Neill (Summer of ’42) in the role of Virginia Ducci and Marc Porel (Don’t Torture a Duckling) in the role of a psychiatrist named Luca Fattori. Other cast members of note include Gianni Garko (Night of the Devils) in the role of Virginia’s husband and Gabriele Ferzetti (Once Upon a Time in the West) in the role of Emilio Rospini, who holds the key to the answers Virginia seeks.

Whether intentional or unintentional The Psychic has one connection to Dario Argento. The Psychic’s protagonist, Virginia, searches an abandoned house that has a corpse hidden in the way. And this scene bears a strong resemblance to a scene from Dario Argento’s Deep Red.

The Psychic is another meticulously composed piece by Lucio Fulci, who specialized in creating foreboding visuals. Another strength of The Psychic is how effectively it uses soft-focus cinematography. And the screenplay does a superb job weaving a web of deceit that saves its most haunting moment for the climax.

The Psychic gets a good release from Scorpion Releasing that comes with a strong audio/video presentation and a pair of informative extras, recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

Murderock: Standard Edition – Scorpion Releasing (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1984
Director: Lucio Fulci
Writers: Gianfranco Clerici, Vincenzo Mannino, Roberto Gianviti, Lucio Fulci
Cast: Olga Karlatos, Ray Lovelock, Claudio Cassinelli, Cosimo Cinieri

Release Date: July 16th, 2019
Approximate running time: 92 Minutes 57 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: NR
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Italian, DTS-HD Mono English
Subtitles: English
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $32.95

"The world of dance is brutal. . . the rehearsals are grueling. . . the competition is fierce. At the Arts for Living Center in New York City, the best of the best are dying for a part in a major production, but only a select few will be chosen. Now the contenders are being narrowed down at the hands of a killer who uses a deadly hatpin to pierce women’s hearts through their bare breasts. Ambition and jealousy appear to be motives, which makes everyone a suspect!" - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.5/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "Brand New 2018 Master!".

Murderock comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 33.1 GB

Feature: 23.4 GB

The source used for this transfer is in great shape. Colors and flesh tones look correct, black levels remain strong throughout, details look crisp, and there are no issues with compression. When compared to previous home video releases, this new transfer is a noticeable upgrade in every way.

Audio: 4.25/5 (DTS-HD Mono Italian), 4/5 (DTS-HD Mono English)

This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in Italian and a DTS-HD mono mix in English. For this release, Scorpion Releasing has done extensive work on the English audio mix. And the result is a strong track that sounds clean, clear, and balanced throughout. Range-wise, the ambient sounds are well-represented, and the score sounds robust. The Italian audio mix is in good shape; the dialog comes through clearly, and everything sounds balanced. Included with this release are removable English subtitles for the Italian language track.

Extras:

Extras for this release include a theatrical traile (2 minutes 37 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), an interview with actress Geretta Geretta (25 minutes 11 seconds, DTS-HD stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with make-up effects artist Franco Casagni titled Pins Through the Heart (13 minutes 40 seconds, DTS-HD stereo Italian with non-removable English subtitles) and and an audio commentary with film historian Troy Howarth.

Other extras include trailers for The Psychic, The Church, Opera, The Devil Within Her, and The Gates of Hell (City of the Living Dead).

Summary:

Lucio Fulci had a long and varied career as a director. He wasn’t afraid to take chances, and he worked in just about every genre. In the mid 1980s, after the release of Manhattan Baby, Lucio Fulci was in the most transitional period of his career. where he would make two less-than-stellar sci-fi films, Conquest and The New Gladiators. With Murderrock, Lucio Fulci would return to the thriller genre for the first time since his nihilistic masterpiece, The New York Ripper.

Besides returning to the thriller genre with Murderock, Lucio Fulci would also return to New York City, the setting of his previous thriller. Murderock would also feature a more restrained style of violence from Lucio Fulci, who just years before had pushed the boundaries of gore and sadism. And like many Italian films from this era, Murderock would draw inspiration from what was popular in Hollywood. Two obvious influences would be Flash Dance and Fame. There’s even a nightclub in which one of the girls gets drenched by water while dancing on the stage, which is almost exactly like a scene from Flash Dance.

Lucio Fulci pulls out all the tricks for Murderock; it’s a film filled with dazzling camera work that’s enhanced by breath-taking use of light and dark. Giuseppe Pinoli’s cinematography for Murderock is flawless. Every inch of each frame is given the utmost care and attention. Two standout scenes visually are a dream sequence where a man who’s holding the same weapon as the killer stalks the director of the dance school and a scene where a girl in a wheelchair captures the killer’s identity with her camera while the killer murders her babysitter.

When discussing Murderock, one must not overlook composer Keith Emerson’s infectious score for the film, which is highlighted by a song titled Paranoia. Murderrock is a truly unique score that perfectly captures the film's abundance of eye candy. This score is similar to his earlier scores for films like Nighthawks and Dario Argento's Inferno.

Murderock has an ample amount of tension and suspense, and despite its lack of gory set pieces, Murderock actually succeeds because of Lucio Fulci’s excellent direction. Needless to say, going into a film that opens with leotards and break dancing, I initially had my doubts that Lucio Fulci could pull off a solid thriller. Fortunately, Lucio Fucli proves that you don’t have to show every death in graphic detail to write an effective thriller.

Murderock gets a first-rate release from Scorpion Releasing that comes with a solid audio/video presentation and a trio of informative extras, recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Perversion Story (One on Top of the Other) - Mondo Macabro (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy/France/Spain, 1969
Director: Lucio Fulci
Writers: Lucio Fulci, Roberto Gianviti, José Luis Martínez Mollá
Cast: Jean Sorel, Marisa Mell, Elsa Martinelli, Alberto de Mendoza, John Ireland, Riccardo Cucciolla, George Rigaud, Faith Domergue, Malisa Longo, Bobby Rhodes

Release Date: November 13th, 2018
Approximate running time: 107 Minutes 54 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: NR
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English, DTS-HD Mono Italian
Subtitles: English
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.95

"Dr. George Dumurrier is looking for money to expand the San Francisco based clinic he runs with his brother. He is also having an affair with Jane, a glamorous fashion photographer. When Dumurrier’s wife Susan dies following an asthma attack, leaving him a million dollar insurance payout, it seems that all his problems are solved – until an anonymous phone call sends him to the Roaring 20s strip club where he is astonished to discover that its featured performer, the dangerously desirable Monica Weston, looks exactly like his dead wife. As he tries to unravel this mystery, George learns that the police are now investigating his wife’s death and that he is under suspicion of murder." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.25/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "HD transfer from film negative".

Perversion Story (One on Top of the Other) comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 40.6 GB

Feature: 28.8 GB

Severin Films released Perversion Story (One on Top of the Other) on DVD fifteen years ago, and though the transfer looked good at that time. This new transfer is the best this film has looked on home video. Colors are nicely saturated, image clarity is consistently solid, and black levels stay strong throughout. The grain looks natural, and there are no issues with compression.

Audio: 4/5 (DTS-HD Mono Italian, DTS-HD Mono English)

This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and a DTS-HD mono mix in Italian. Both audio mixes sound clean, clear, and balanced throughout. Range-wise, the score sounds appropriately robust, and the ambient sounds are well represented. Included with this release are removable English subtitles.

Extras:

Extras for this release include a Mondo Macabro preview reel, a theatrical trailer (4 minutes 22 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), an interview with author Stephen Thrower (38 minutes 22 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with actress Elsa Martinelli titled The Last Diva (9 minutes 58 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles) and an interview with actor Jean Sorel titled On Death Row (29 minutes 47 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles).

Summary:

Lucio Fulci directed six Giallo films that are all unique twists on this popular genre. Having said that, unlike most of his contemporaries, who made these films mostly by the book and often imitated other successful giallo entries, what is also surprising about the first four Giallo films directed by Lucio Fulci is how restrained the violence is, both on and off screen. Perversion Story (One on Top of the Other) plays out more like an Alfred Hitchcock thriller and strays far away from the style and cliches that are prevalent throughout most Giallos made in the 1970s.

Perversion Story (One on Top of the Other) is set in a variety of memorable locations, including Reno, San Francisco, and San Quentin. Director Lucio Fulci makes good use of the various locations at his disposal. Lucio Fucli, at this point in his career, was mostly known for directing comedies, and Perversion Story (One on Top of the Other) was his first foray into the thriller genre.

From a production standpoint, Perversion Story (One on Top of the Other) is overflowing with stylish cinematography that takes full advantage of its scenic locations. Also, the premise is superbly realized, the narrative does a great job maintaining the mounting tension, and an excellent twist ending provides a perfect coda.

Performance-wise, the cast is very good in their respective roles. Perversion Story’s (One on Top of the Other) heart and soul are Marissa Mell’s (Danger: Diabolik) performances in the roles of Susan Dumurrier and Monica Weston. Both characters are like night and day. With Marisa Mell looking sickly and very unglamorous as Susan Dumurrier before her transformation into the other world's stunning beauty known as Monica Weston, the scene that is most memorable in the film is Marisa Mell’s entrance as Monica Weston, a nightclub stripper.

With its many well-executed plot twists and a very satisfying surprise ending, the narrative is one of the best you'll ever see for a giallo. Perversion Story (One on Top of the Other) is a restrained film that contrasts sharply with Lucio Fucli's later films, which rely heavily on his violent set pieces. Ultimately, Perversion Story (One on Top of the Other) is one of Lucio Fulci’s most polished and rewatchable films.

Perversion Story (One on Top of the Other) gets a solid release from Mondo Macabro that comes with a strong audio/video presentation and a trio of informative extras, highly recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin – Mondo Macabro (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1971
Director: Lucio Fulci
Writers: Lucio Fulci, Roberto Gianviti, José Luis Martínez Mollá, André Tranché
Cast: Florinda Bolkan, Stanley Baker, Jean Sorel, Anita Strindberg

Release Date: February 9th, 2016
Approximate running time: 104 Minutes 11 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: NR
Sound: LPCM Mono Italian, LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.95

"Carol Hammond, the sexually frustrated wife of a successful London lawyer, is having bizarre, erotic dreams about her uninhibited neighbor, Julia Durer, who presides over noisy, sex and drug filled parties in the house next door. One night, Carol’s dreams culminate in violent death and she wakes to find her nightmares have become reality – Julia has been murdered and Carol is the main suspect." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.25/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "HD transfer from film negative".

A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin comes on a 25 GB single layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 22.5 GB

Feature: 20.2 GB

Le Chat Qui Fum released A Lizard in a Woman's Skin on Blu-ray in 2015, and Mondo Macabro uses the same source for their transfer. And though these two transfers originated from the same source, they are not identical. Mondo Macabro’s transfer boasts more vibrant colors and stronger black levels, and the grain is more pronounced. Also, Mondo Macabro’s transfer incorporates 1 minute and 17 seconds of footage that is not present in the aforementioned Le Chat Qui Fum Blu-ray release. It should also be noted that this extra footage comes from a lesser source and is the same footage that was included as part of the Optimum Releasing A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin DVD release.

Audio: 4/5 (LPCM Mono Italian, LPCM Mono English)

This release comes with two audio options, a LPCM mono mix in Italian and a LPCM mono mix in English. Range-wise, both of these audio mixes sound very good and robust when they need to. With Ennio Morricone’s score benefiting most from these audio mixes, the dialog is always clear, everything sounds balanced, and there are no issues with background noise or distortion. Included with this release are removable English subtitles for the Italian language track.

Extras:

Extras for this release include a Mondo Macabro preview reel, two radio spots (1 minute 34 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), alternate Italian opening credits (1 minute 23 seconds, Dolby Digital mono) three theatrical trailers (4 minutes 54 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), an interview with actor Tony Adams titled From Burton to Baker (12 minutes 29 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with author Stephen Thrower titled When Worlds Collide (29 minutes 9 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), a documentary titled Shedding the Skin (33 minutes 47 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, French and Italian with non-removable English subtitles) Shedding the Skin comes with optional commentary with Kris Gavin, an interview with Lucio Fulci titled Dr. Lucio Fulci’s Day for Night (32 minutes 5 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles) and an audio commentary with Kris Gavin and Pete Tombs.

Summary:

Lucio Fulci is most remembered for his gore-soaked classics like The Beyond and Zombie 2. Most of his films from this later period of his career have been released on DVD, while a few of his more prominent early works are still languishing in obscurity. Over the course of his career, Lucio Fulci would only direct a handful of giallo films: Don’t Torture a Duckling, The New York Ripper, A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, One on Top of the Other, and Seven Notes in Black. It is in the giallo genre that Lucio Fulci excels most as an artist, directing some of the best films of his career. Lucio Fulci would also work with Florinda Bolkan in another giallo, Don’t Torture a Duckling.

Out of the six giallo films that Lucio Fulci directed, each one has its own distinct style that sets it apart from his other entries in this genre. A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin sees Lucio Fulci not only follow some of the traditional giallo standards, but he also spends an ample amount of time experimenting with his various collaborators on this film. One of Lucio Fulci’s most important collaborators is his editor. A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin would mark the first of nineteen collaborations between editor Vincenzo Tomassi and director Lucio Fulci. His rhythmic pacing for A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin adds to the film's dreamlike quality. 

Some of the credit for the look of A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin can be attributed to the film's cinematographer, who also shot Dario Argento’s influential giallo Profondo rosso and Lucio Fulci’s delightfully disturbing The New York Ripper. He employs a number of common techniques, such as split-screen and wave-like frame distortion, to help disorient the viewer. Lucio Fulci’s films have never been as colorful as his contemporary Dario Argento’s films. A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin is Lucio Fulci’s most colorful film that I have seen to date.

It is hard to believe that A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin is the only time legendary composer Ennio Morricone ever worked with Lucio Fulci. The finished score is nothing short of perfect as Ennio Morricone employs to its fullest the sweet voice of a female whose vocal pattern is more like a chant than actual spoken words. The rest of the score goes from melancholy heartbreak arrangements to menacing string arrangements that sound like fingernails across a chalk board. A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin is one of Ennio Morricone’s most diverse and accomplished scores.

A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin is blessed with a marvelous cast that includes Florinda Bolkan (Footprints), Stanley Baker, Jean Sorel (Belle de Jour), and Anita Strindberg (The Case of the Scorpion's Tale). Stanley Baker is best known for his role in the film Zulu as Inspector Corvin. His character has an unusual quirk in which he can be heard whistling through A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin. This little nuance helps define his character's personality, and at times the whistling can become unnerving. My appreciation for Florinda Bolkan as an actress grows with each new film I see her in. Her performance is what the whole film hinges on, and it is totally to her credit that A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin works as well as it does.

Lucio Fulci is now receiving the acclaim that has eluded him his whole life. He was a diverse director who made masterpieces out of virtually nothing, and with A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, he creates one of the golden age of giallo’s finest moments that has to be seen to truly appreciate it.

A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin gets an exceptional release from Mondo Macabro that comes with a strong audio/video presentation and a wealth of informative extras, highly recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

The Devil’s Honey – 88 Films (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1986
Director: Lucio Fulci|
Writers: Jaime Jesús Balcázar, Lucio Fulci, Ludovica Marineo, Sergio Partou, Vincenzo Salviani
Cast: Brett Halsey, Corinne Clery, Blanca Marsillach, Stefano Madia, Paula Molina, Bernard Seray

Release Date: May 18th, 2020
Approximate running time: 82 Minutes 49 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono Italian, LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: £14.99 (UK)

"Brett Halsey (A Cat in the Brain, Four Times That Night) plays a brilliant surgeon who, when distracted by personal problems, accidentally causes a patient to die in surgery. Determined to avenge this, the man's grief-crazed former lover kidnaps the doc and undertakes a very kinky type of vengeance – there's no safe word here..." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.5/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "2K Scan from Original Vault Materials. Exclusive dust and scratch Restoration carried out in the UK."

The Devil’s Honey comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 40.2 GB

Feature: 24.2 GB

Though The Devil’s Honey had been previously released on Blu-ray by Severin Films, that transfer left room for improvement. This new transfer from 88 Films greatly improves image clarity; grain has been handled better; compression looks stronger; and it also appears that some extra cleanup was done for this transfer.

Audio: 4/5 (LPCM Mono Italian) 3.75/5 (LPCM Mono English)

This release comes with two audio options, a LPCM mono mix in Italian and a LPCM mono mix in English. Both audio mixes are in great shape; dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced, and ambient sounds and the score are well-represented. This release includes removable English subtitles that are a direct translation of the Italian language track rather than dub-titles like the subtitles used by Severin Films for their Blu-ray release.

Extras:

Extras for this release include a slipcover (limited to first pressing), reversible cover art, a theatrical trailer (2 minutes 40 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), alternate English language opening credits and closing under the title Dangerous Obsession (6 minutes 33 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), Italian language opening and closing titles (3 minutes 7 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Italian, no subtitles), an audio essay by Troy Howarth author of Splintered Visions – Lucio Fulci And His Films titled Fulci’s Honey (16 minutes 56 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with author Stephen Thrower author of Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci (21 minutes 44 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with composer Claudio Natili titled The Devil’s Sax (9 minutes 51 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with burnt-in English subtitles), an interview with producer Vincenzo Salviani titled Producing Honey (13 minutes 22 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with burnt-in English subtitles), an interview with actress Corinne Cléry titled Wild Flower (12 minutes 13 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with burnt-in English subtitles), an interview with actor Brett Halsey titled The Devil’s Halsey (17 minutes 26 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles) and an audio commentary with film historian Samm Deighan.

Summary:

The Devil’s Honey was co-written and directed by Lucio Fulci, who is primarily known for his gore films like The Beyond and Zombie and thrillers like Don’t Torture a Duckling and A Woman in a Lizard’s Skin. Though there have been erotic undertones in many of his films. Outside of a handful of erotica/comedy hybrids like The Eroticist, Dracula in the Provinces, and My Sister in Law, he rarely ventured into the erotica genre.

The Devil’s Honey is a story about two lovers, Johnny, an up-and-coming musician, and Jessica, his girlfriend. The film establishes early on that they have a very psychic relationship that is frequently tumultuous. Johnny rides around Jessica on his motorcycle one day after a lover's spat to prove his undying love for her. This event leads to him hitting his head really hard on a rock, which leads to his seeing a doctor named Wendell Simpson, a prominent brain surgeon. Doctor Simpson, the surgeon called in to operate on Johnny, was also going through his own turbulent relationship woes with his wife, Caroline. Unable to focus, Johnny dies during the operation. This is when The Devil’s Honey shifts away from its blatantly overt use of erotica into themes more geared towards revenge. Jessica kidnaps Doctor Simpson, whom she then proceeds to put through a series of grueling punishments. Not wanting him to die until he has suffered to her liking, she even gives him mouth-to-mouth in one scene to revive him after he nearly drowns.

Though revenge is the modus operandi of the latter half of the film, this does not mean that The Devil’s Honey has abandoned its erotic overtones that dominate the opening part of the film. In fact, during the bulk of the time that the Jessica Simpson character is torturing the Doctor Simpson character, she is either topless or fully nude. Visually, The Devil's Honey demonstrates that director Lucio Fulci was always able to create interesting compositions and set pieces despite a limited budget or material.

The Devil’s Honey’s strongest asset is its editing. The Devil’s Honey editor Vincenzo Tomassi worked with director Lucio Fulci a total of sixteen times, beginning with The Eroticist and ending with Voices from Beyond. Also, The Devil’s Honey does a great job filling in the backstory of Johnny and Jessica through a series of flashbacks.

The Devil’s Honey features a few familiar faces: Brett Halsey in the role of Doctor Simpson (Four Times That Night), in his first collaboration with Lucio Fulci, and Corinne Clery (Hitch Hike) in the role of the doctor’s wife Caroline. The Devil’s Honey’s most memorable performance comes from Blanca Marsillach in the role of Jessica, the girlfriend of the musician who tragically dies. That being said, as good as her performance in The Devil's Honey is, it only highlights how bad Stefano Madia's performance as Johnny is. In the end, The Devil's Honey is a late-career Lucio Fulci film that demonstrated what he was capable of producing when given adequate resources and a compelling story to work with.

The Devil’s Honey gets an excellent release from 88 Films that comes with a strong audio/video presentation and a wealth of informative extras, highly recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

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