Monday, October 25, 2021

Perfect Blue: Limited Edition Steelbook – Shout! Factory (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1997
Director: Satoshi Kon
Writers: Sadayuki Murai, Yoshikazu Takeuchi
Cast: Junko Iwao, Rica Matsumoto, Shinpachi Tsuji, Masaaki Ôkura, Yôsuke Akimoto, Yoku Shioya, Hideyuki Hori

Release Date: September 14th, 2021
Approximate Running Time: 81 Minutes 47 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVCC
Rating: R
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Japanese, Dolby Digital Mono Japanese, Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: English (for Japanese), English (for songs & signs in Japanese), English SDH (for English)
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.98

"Rising pop star Mima has quit singing to pursue a career as an actress and model, but her fans aren't ready to see her go. Encouraged by her managers, Mima takes on a recurring role on a popular TV show, when suddenly her handlers and collaborators begin turning up murdered. Harboring feelings of guilt and haunted by visions of her former self, Mima's reality and fantasy meld into a frenzied paranoia. As her stalker closes in, in person and online, the threat he poses is more real than even Mima knows."  - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.25/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, “New digital remastered presentation of the film."

Perfect Blue comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 34.7 GB

Feature: 20.2 GB

Though this transfer has issues related to its source, overall, this transfer is a noticeable improvement over earlier home video releases. Colors are nicely saturated, details look crisp, black levels look good and the image looks more filmic than earlier U.S. home video releases.

Audio: 4.5

This release comes with three audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in Japanese, a Dolby Digital mono mix in Japanese and a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in English. All three audio mixes sound clean, clear and balanced. The DTS-HD 5.1 mix does a great job expanding the original mono source. Included with this release are three subtitle options, English for Japanese, English for songs & signs in Japanese and English SDH for English.

Extras:

Extras for this release include original US/UK trailer for Perfect Blue (1 minute 39 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), UK re-release trailer for Perfect Blue (1 minute 11 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), Japanese theatrical trailer for Perfect Blue (1 minute 56 seconds, LPCM mono Japanese, no subtitles), English language credits (3 minutes 47 seconds, Dolby Digital 5.1), Angel of Your Heart recording sessions (4 minutes 22 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Japanese, no subtitles), Angel of Your Heart full English version (4 minutes 15 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), a featurette titled Lectures By Satoshi Kon (41 minutes 10 seconds, LPCM stereo Japanese with removable English subtitles), an interview with voice actor Bob Marx (2 minutes, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with voice actress Wendee Lee (2 minutes 21 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with voice actress Ruby Marlowe (2 minutes 40 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with voice actress Junko Iwao (5 minutes 41 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Japanese with non-removable English subtitles), an interview with director Satoshi Kon (10 minutes 45 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Japanese with non-removable English subtitles), a ten page booklet with images from Perfect Blue and the original version of Perfect Blue in standard definition (81 minutes 19 seconds, 1.85:1 letterboxed widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 Japanese, Dolby Digital mono Japanese, Dolby Digital 5.1 English, English subtitles for Japanese, English subtitles for songs & signs in Japanese, English SDH subtitles for English).

Also, included with this release is a DVD that contains Perfect Blue (81 minutes 45 seconds, 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 Japanese, Dolby Digital 5.1 English, English subtitles for Japanese, English SDH subtitles for English).

Extras on the DVD include US trailer & teaser (1 minute 46 seconds, Dolby Digital 5.1 Japanese with non-removable English subtitles), English language credits (3 minutes 49 seconds, Dolby Digital 5.1), Angel of Your Heart recording sessions (4 minutes 24 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Japanese, no subtitles), an interview with voice actor Bob Marx (2 minutes, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with voice actress Wendee Lee (2 minutes 21 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with voice actress Ruby Marlowe (2 minutes 41 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with voice actress Junko Iwao (5 minutes 43 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Japanese with non-removable English subtitles) and an interview with director Satoshi Kon (10 minutes 46 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Japanese with non-removable English subtitles).

Summary:

Perfect Blue is based on Yoshikazu Takeuchi’s best selling novel of the same name. Director Satoshi Kon began his career as a manga artist before moving into animation and working as a background artist. Satoshi Kon made his feature film directorial debut with Perfect Blue with screenwriter Sadayuki Murai. His other credits include Cowboy Bebop and the Astro Boy TV series. Satoshi Kon and Sadayuki Murai have collaborated on one other film, Millennium Actress. 

Most Japanese anime features battling robots, young girls with superpowers, and perverted evil demons. Perfect Blue breaks away from tradition as it at times resembles the Italian Giallo genre, which is known for its strong, vivid colors and gory murder set pieces. Perfect Blue has a few murder set pieces that match the intensity and visual style of Brian De Palma and Dario Argento’s best work.

And though the stalker/serial killer premise isn’t that original. The way Perfect Blue explores this premise is why this film is so effective. Also, there is no attempt to hide the killer’s identity, since knowing who the killer is does not weaken the finale.

Perfect Blue uses the film within the film concept by switching between Mima’s reality and her TV character's reality. Director Satoshi Kon cleverly masks both realities without ever revealing what is in her mind and what is real. Perfect Blue perfectly dissects the phenomenon that surrounds a celebrity and its impact on the performer. 

Perfect Blue is loaded with strong visual set pieces. With its strongest and most disturbing scene being a scene where Mima portrays a character who's raped. Also, the film takes on a darker tone as Mima’s stalker’s obsession grows and her state of mind deteriorates. Ultimately, Perfect Blue is an exceptional thriller that does an amazing job blurring that thin line between what is real and what is not.

Perfect Blue gets a solid audio/video presentation and a wealth of informative extras, highly recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Lucky Luciano – Kino Lorber (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: USA/France/Italy, 1973
Director: Francesco Rosi
Writers: Francesco Rosi, Lino Iannuzzi, Tonino Guerra
Cast: Gian Maria Volontè, Vincent Gardenia, Silverio Blasi, Charles Cioffi, Larry Gates, Magda Konopka, Edmond O'Brien, Rod Steiger

Release Date: September 28th, 2021
Approximate Running Time: 111 Minutes 27 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVCC
Rating: R
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Italian/English
Subtitles: English
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $24.95

"In 1946, after serving time for the murder of his colleagues in crime, Luciano was pardoned and sent back to his homeland of Sicilia. Rather than changing his life around, it was here that he became one of the most powerful leaders of crime the world has ever known." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 3.5/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "4K Restoration from the Original Camera Negative."

More information about the transfer, "Lucky Luciano was restored by Cineteca di Bologna at L'Immagine Ritrovata, in association with The Film Foundation and Cristaldi Films, with funding provided by The Film Foundation.

The full 4K digital restoration included removal of dirt and scratches, and image stabilization.

Color grading recovered the richness of the original cinematography. Francesco Rosi closely supervised this stage in order to restore the original quality of the work done by cinematographer Pasqualino De Santis.

35mm as well as digital versions of the restored film were created for screening and archival purposes.

Restoration work was completed in May 2013."

Lucky Luciano comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 36.3 GB

Feature: 34 GB

According to the information provided about the transfer, Lucky Luciano was given an extensive restoration that included the participation of the film’s director, Francesco Rosi. That said, though there are many areas where this transfer looks very good, there are a few areas where things don’t look right. The most notable of these is that the color palette looks off. Also, though the image generally looks crisp, there are few instances where the image looks too soft and there are instances where blacks look greyish. It's a shame about this transfer's color palette, since this transfer source is free of source related damage.

Audio: 4.5/5

This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in Italian/English. The audio sounds clean, clear and balanced. There are two English subtitles. One of the English subtitles is for the whole film, and the other English subtitles are for all the Italian language dialog.

Extras:

Extras for this release include an audio commentary with film critic and author Simon Abrams.

Other extras include trailers for Illustrious Corpses (3 minutes 23 seconds, DTS-HD mono Italian with non-removable English subtitles), The Don is Dead (1 minute 44 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), Prime Cut (2 minutes 34 seconds, DTS-HD mono English, no subtitles), Newman’s Law (2 minutes 27 seconds, DTS-HD mono English, no subtitles), Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1 minute 58 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles) and Street People (2 minutes 33 seconds, DTS-HD mono English, no subtitles).

Summary:

Lucky Luciano was a notorious gangster whose life has been adapted into numerous films. Besides films about Lucky Luciano, he has been portrayed in other films about American gangsters. That said, most films that featured Lucky Luciano focused on his life before he returned to Italy.

Though Lucky Luciano’s most sensationalized exploits took place before he went to prison in the 1930’s. Despite being forced to relocate to Italy, he remained a prominent figure in the organized crime world. And it is precisely his life once he returned to Italy that Francesco Rosi’s Lucky Luciano explores.

From its opening moments, Francesco Rosi’s Lucky Luciano is a deliberately paced melodrama that is heavy on dialog and light when it comes to violence. With most moments of carnage being brief, the most violent sequence is a montage/flashback of the Night of the Sicilian Vespers.

That said, one drawback about Francesco Rosi’s Lucky Luciano is that it spends as much time with other characters as it does with Lucky Luciano. There are often long stretches without Lucky Luciano in which characters who are peripherally connected to Lucky Luciano interact.

If you’re going to make a film about Lucky Luciano, you better have a charismatic actor to portray him. Fortunately, Francesco Rosi’s Lucky Luciano cast Gian Maria Volontè (Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion) in the role of Lucky Luciano. Known for his captivating performances, Gian Maria Volontè once again delivers a performance that perfectly captures his character's essence. Besides Gian Maria Volontè, the rest of the cast are all very good in their respective roles. Ultimately, Francesco Rosi’s Lucky Luciano is an extraordinary piece of filmmaking that offers a deeper dive into one of America’s most notorious criminals.

Francesco Rosi’s Lucky Luciano makes its way to Blu-ray via a serviceable audio/video presentation that leaves room for improvement and an informative audio commentary. 








Written by Michael Den Boer

Blood for Dracula – Severin Films (4k UHD/Blu-ray/CD Combo)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy/France, 1974
Director: Paul Morrissey
Writers: Paul Morrissey, Pat Hackett, Bram Stoker
Cast: Joe Dallesandro, Udo Kier, Vittorio De Sica, Maxime McKendry, Arno Jürging, Milena Vukotic, Dominique Darel, Stefania Casini, Silvia Dionisio, Roman Polanski

Release Date: November 30th, 2021
Approximate Running Time: 103 Minutes 6 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 2160 Progressive / HEVC / H.265 / Dolby Vision HDR10
Rating: NR
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $59.95

"Desperate for virgin blood, Count Dracula - Kier in the performance Flavorwire calls "one of cinema's Top 5 best Draculas" - journeys to an Italian villa only to discover the family's three young daughters are also coveted by the estate's Marxist stud (Joe Dallesandro of Morrissey's FLESH, TRASH and HEAT)." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 5/5 (4K UHD), 4/5 (Blu-ray)

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "scanned uncut in 4K from the original negative for the first time ever."

Blood for Dracula comes on a 66 GB dual layer 4K UHD.

Disc Size: 47.4 GB

Feature: 46.6 GB

Blood for Dracula comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 44 GB

Feature: 19.3 GB

The source used for this transfer looks immaculate. 

The 4K UHD’s transfer looks exquisite, colors are nicely saturated, flesh tones look correct, image clarity, contrast, shadow detail and black levels look solid throughout, grain remains intact and I did not notice any compression related issues.

Though the Blu-ray uses the same source for its transfer, the result is a transfer that looks noticeably different in some areas. Most notably, the colors are not as vibrant and there are some compression related issues.

It should be noted, though, that the screenshots give you a good indication of how the 4K UHD and Blu-ray look. The 4K UHD screenshots do not fully show how impressive this looks in HDR.

Audio: 5/5

This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles). The audio is in excellent shape, dialog always comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced, ambient sounds are well-represented and the score sounds robust.

Extras:

Extras for this release are spread over three discs.

Extras on the 4K UHD disc include Blood for Dracula trailer #1 (3 minutes 23 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles) and Blood for Dracula trailer #2 (1 minute 55 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles).

Extras on the Blu-ray disc include Blood for Dracula trailer #1 (3 minutes 23 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), Blood for Dracula trailer #2 (1 minute 55 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), an interview with producer Andrew Braunsberg titled The Roman Connection (23 minutes 26 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with composer Claudio Gizzi titled Sad, Romantic Dracula (19 minutes 43 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with 'Murderous Passions' author Stephen Thrower titled The Blood of These Whores… (20 minutes 2 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with art director Gianni Giovagnoni titled Black Cherry (26 minutes 56 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with assistant director Paolo Pietrangeli titled Bloodthirsty (14 minutes 38 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an audio interview with actress Milena Vukotic titled Conversation with a Vampire (18 minutes 50 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with actor Joe Dallesandro titled Little Big Joe (28 minutes 14 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with actor Udo Kier titled Blood For Udo (18 minutes 56 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo German with removable English subtitles), an interview & location visit with actress Stefania Casini titled Rubinia's Homecoming (17 minutes 59 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian and English with non-removable English subtitles for Italian), an interview with director Paul Morrissey titled Trans-Human Flesh and Blood (35 minutes 35 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles) and a Easter Egg extra, an archival interview with second unit director Antonio Margheriti (5 minutes 16 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English with non-removable English subtitles).

The third disc is a CD that contains Claudio Gizzi’s thirty track score for Blood for Dracula.

Also, included with this release is a cardboard insert with a track listing for Claudio Gizzi’s score. 

Summary:

Though there have been numerous adaptations and/or films loosely based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula. When it comes to the character of Dracula, there is a preconceived idea of how Dracula should look and sound. That said, most films featuring Dracula tend to stay close to this preconceived idea of Dracula. There are a few films that think outside the box; case in point, Paul Morrissey’s Blood for Dracula.

Though I had heard about Blood for Dracula, until this release from Severin Films, I had never seen Blood for Dracula. My hesitation when it came to Blood for Dracula is directly related to Andy Warhol's name being attached to them. That said, it quickly becomes clear that Blood for Dracula is nothing like other films that are linked to Andy Warhol.

The first thing that struck me while watching Blood for Dracula was how lyrical the film is.Sure, it has many elements that are synonymous with Dracula, most notably his need for blood. Also, scenes where Dracula feasts on blood are sufficiently gory. With Blood for Dracula, the bloodiest scene is saved for the end.

The most surprising aspect of Blood for Dracula are the performances, especially Udo Kier’s (Mark of the Devil) delirious portrayal of Dracula. He delivers a superb portrayal that’s unlike any Dracula that came before or since. That said, Blood for Dracula has a solid cast who are very good in their respective roles.

From a production standpoint, Blood for Dracula is a film that far exceeds the sum of its parts. The premise of a Dracula in search of virgins is superbly realized, and the simplicity of the story at hand allows the performances to take center stage. Other strengths include Claudio Gizzi’s score that perfectly sets the mood and production design that convincingly creates a tangible world that the story takes place in. Not to be overlooked is Paul Morrissey’s solid direction. Ultimately, Blood for Dracula is a unique cinema experience that either enthralls you or you will quickly tune out.

Severin Films have put together an impressive release that comes with a solid audio/video presentation and a ridiculous number of insightful extras. Highly recommended.

                                                               4K UHD screenshot.

                                                              Blu-ray screenshot. 

                                                               4K UHD screenshot.

                                                                Blu-ray screenshot. 

                                                                4K UHD screenshot.

                                                                Blu-ray screenshot.

                                                               4K UHD screenshot.

                                                                 Blu-ray screenshot.

                                                                4K UHD screenshot.

                                                                  Blu-ray screenshot. 

                                                                 4K UHD screenshot.

                                                                   Blu-ray screenshot.

                                                                    4K UHD screenshot.

                                                                      Blu-ray screenshot. 

Written by Michael Den Boer

Friday, October 22, 2021

Deep Red – Arrow Video (4k UHD)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1975
Director: Dario Argento
Writers: Dario Argento, Bernardino Zapponi
Cast: David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Gabriele Lavia, Macha Méril, Eros Pagni, Giuliana Calandra, Piero Mazzinghi, Glauco Mauri, Clara Calamai, Aldo Bonamano, Liana Del Balzo, Nicoletta Elmi

Release Date: October 25, 2021 (UK), October 26th, 2021 (USA)
Approximate running times: 126 Minutes 38 Seconds (Director’s Cut), 104 Minutes 53 Seconds (International Theatrical Cut)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 2160 Progressive / HEVC / H.265 / Dolby Vision HDR10 (Director’s Cut, International Theatrical Cut)
Rating: 18 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Italian, DTS-HD Mono Italian, DTS-HD Mono English/Italian Hybrid (Director’s Cut), LPCM Mono English (International Theatrical Cut)
Subtitles: English, English SDH (Director’s Cut), English SDH (International Theatrical Cut)
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: £39.99 (UK), $59.95 (USA)

"One night, musician Marcus Daly (David Hemmings, Blow Up), looking up from the street below, witnesses the brutal axe murder of a woman in her apartment. Racing to the scene, Marcus just manages to miss the perpetrator... or does he? As he takes on the role of amateur sleuth, Marcus finds himself ensnared in a bizarre web of murder and mystery where nothing is what it seems..." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 5/5 (Director’s Cut, International Theatrical Cut)

Here’s the information provided about the transfer, "New 4K restoration of both the original 127-minute Italian version and the 105-minute export version from the original negative by Arrow Films."

Deep Red director's cut comes on a 100 GB triple layer 4K UHD.

Disc Size: 89.3 GB

Feature: 78.5 GB

Deep Red International theatrical cut comes on a 100 GB triple layer 4K UHD.

Disc Size: 86.2 GB

Feature: 77 GB

The sources used for both versions are comparable. Both versions look excellent. Colors are nicely saturated, contrast, shadow detail, and black levels look solid. There are no issues with compression, and grain remains intact. This is another exemplary 4K UHD upgrade from Arrow Video. 

Audio: 5/5

The director’s cut comes with three audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in Italian, a DTS-HD mono mix in Italian and a DTS-HD mono hybrid mix in English and Italian. Included with this version are removable English subtitles for Italian dialog and there’s also removable English SDH for the English/Italian hybrid track.

The international theatrical cut comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in English, and included with this version are removable English SDH subtitles.

All of the audio tracks included as part of this release sound excellent. Dialog always comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced, Goblin’s score sounds robust and ambient sounds are well-represented. Sonically, you can’t go wrong with any of these audio tracks.

Extras:

Extras on the UHD disc that contains the director's cut include image galleries: posters (7 images), lobby cards (18 images), promotional stills (26 images), Japanese press book and flyer (13 images) and soundtracks (6 images), international trailer for Deep Red (1 minute 47 seconds, LPCM mono Italian with removable English subtitles), 2018 Arrow Video trailer for Deep Red (1 minute 30 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), an interview with actor Lino Capolicchio titled Blood Stained (5 minutes 28 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with actor Jacopo Mariani titled I Am The Screaming Child (7 minutes 43 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with Gabriele Lavia titled Carlo Never Dies (15 minutes 32 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with Claudio Simonett titled Death Dies (14 minutes 47 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with production manager Angelo Iacono (46 minutes 31 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with actress Macha Méril titled The Medium Wore Black (20 minutes 55 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with Dario Argento and Daria Nicolodi (57 minutes 40 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an archival audio commentary with Dario Argento expert Thomas Rostock and an audio commentary with film critics Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson.

Extras on the UHD disc that contains the International theatrical cut include U.S. trailer for Deep Red (2 minutes 44 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), an archival introduction by composer Claudio Simonett (24 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival interview with Claudio Simonetti titled Music to Murder For (14 minutes 5 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival interview with actress Daria Nicolodi titled Lady in Red (18 minutes 45 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with English subtitles), an archival interview with director Dario Argento titled Rosso Recollections (12 minutes 24 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with English subtitles), an archival interview Luigi Cozzi titled Rosso from Celluloid to Shop’ (14 minutes 28 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with English subtitles) and an archival visual essay titled Profondo Giallo (32 minutes 57 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English no subtitles).

Rounding out the extras is a double-sided poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork, reversible cover art, six double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproduction artcards and a sixty-page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled Dario Argento’s Deep Red written by Alan Jones, an essay titled Deep Red: The Quintessential Guide written by Mikel Koven, an essay titled The Architecture of Fear: The Surrealist Spaces of Dario Argento’s Deep Red written by Rachael Nisbet and information about the restoration/transfers.

Summary:

Deep Red was co-written and directed by Dario Argento, a filmmaker who is often referred to as the Italian Alfred Hitchcock. And just like the aforementioned Alfred Hitchcock, Dario Argento has spent the bulk of his career working primarily in the thriller (Giallo) genre. In the early 1970's, Dario Argento quickly rose to prominence after directing a trio of thrillers known as the "animal trilogy" (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, The Cat O’ Nine Tails, and Four Flies on Grey Velvet). I have directed three films in the span of two years. Dario Argento would, over the next few years, pursue other avenues, like producing a thriller anthology series like Door into Darkness and a historical comedy/drama hybrid called Five Days in Milan. Unfortunately, this change of direction was not what he was looking for, and Five Days in Milan performed poorly at the box office. And after an attempt to adapt Frankenstein. Dario Argento would return to the genre that had made him a household name with the 1975 film Deep Red.

Deep Red's plot, like Dario Argento’s previous thrillers, revolves around an amateur sleuth, who becomes involved in the investigation after witnessing the original crime that sets everything in motion. And just like those aforementioned thrillers, Deep Red’s protagonist is joined by a companion in their investigations. The relationship between the film’s protagonist, a musician named Marcus Dailey, and a reporter named Gianna Brezzi, is arguably the most enduring pairing to ever appear in a Dario Argento film.

Cast in the role of Marcus Dailey is a British actor named David Hemmings, who rose to prominence after staring in Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-up. It should also come as no surprise that the character's journey in Deep Red has many striking similarities to the character he portrayed in Blow-up. Cast opposite David Hemmings is an Italian actress named Daria Nicolodi, who would play an important role in Dario Argento’s evolution as a filmmaker. They would begin a relationship while working on Deep Red that would culminate while working on Phenomena.

The red herring is an integral element of the thriller genre. And if done poorly, it could quickly tip the hat to who the true perpetrator is. Thankfully, Deep Red is a meticulously laid out murder mystery that does not play its hand before its moment of truth. And when this moment finally arrives retracing the who’s and the why’s are equally satisfying. Another area that Deep Red excels are its kill sequences. which serves as so much more than a random act of violence. In fact, there are several instances in which clues to the killers’ identity are left at the scene of the crime.

Visually, Dario Argento proves once again that he is not interested in revisiting where he has been. And that he is always more than willing to experiment visually as a filmmaker. When talking about the visuals for Deep Red, one must not overlook cinematographer Luigi Kuveiller’s contributions. He had previously worked with Dario Argento on Five Days in Milan. Some of his notable films as a cinematographer include Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, Flesh for Frankenstein and The New York Ripper. 

Another key collaborator on Deep Red was the progressive rock band Goblin, who would go on to work with Dario Argento on several other films, most notably Suspiria. The score for Deep Red was co-written by Giorgio Gaslini, who’s other notable scores include So Sweet, So Dead, Five Days in Milan and the Italian T.V. series Door Into Darkness. As important as the visuals and as good as the performances are, the real backbone of this film is its driving score. With the standout musical motif being a children’s song that the killer uses as a calling card.

Where Arrow Video’s other Dario Argento 4K UHD releases only carried over existing extras. Deep Red comes with three hours of new extras. Also, the Deep Red booklet comes with an additional essay that was not part of Arrow Video’s 2018 Blu-ray release.

Deep Red gets an exceptional 4K UHD upgrade from Arrow Video, highly recommended.

4K UHD screenshots.














Written by Michael Den Boer

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Mad Love – Warner Archive (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1935
Director: Karl Freund
Writers: P.J. Wolfson, John L. Balderston
Cast: Peter Lorre, Frances Drake, Colin Clive, Ted Healy, Sara Haden, Edward Brophy, Henry Kolker, Keye Luke, May Beatty

Release Date: October 19th, 2021
Approximate Running Time: 68 Minutes 15 seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: NR
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $21.99

"Concert pianist Colin Clive (from Frankenstein) has his hands wrecked, and his actress wife (Frances Drake) turns to the obsessive Dr. Gogol (Lorre), who has long worshipped her. But the doctor replaces the pianist's hands with those of a murderous circus knife-thrower!" - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 5/5

Mad Love comes on a 25 GB single layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 20 GB

Feature: 19.3 GB

Though no information is provided about the source used for this transfer, the result is a solid transfer that looks fabulous. Image clarity, contrast, shadow detail and black levels look solid throughout. It's hard to imagine Mad Love looking better than this transfer looks.

Audio: 4.25/5

This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. The audio is in great shape. The dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. Range wise, the audio sounds very good for a film of this vintage.

Extras:

Extras for this release include a trailer for Mad Love (2 minutes 5 seconds, DTS-HD mono English, no subtitles) and an audio commentary with Dr. Steve Haberman.

Summary:

The two creative forces behind Mad Love were Peter Lorre and director Karl Freund. Mad Love was Peter Lorre’s Hollywood debut and only his second picture in English. His first English film was The Man Who Knew Too Much. Karl Freund spent most of his career working as a cinematographer on films like Metropolis, All Quiet on the Western Front, Dracula (1931) and Key Largo. In the 1950's, Karl Freund, while working on the TV series "I Love Lucy," pioneered the three camera technique that has been used in virtually every comedy sitcom since. Karl Freund was not as prolific as a director, with films like The Mummy (1933) and his final film as director, Mad Love, standing out as classic examples of Hollywood’s golden age of horror. Mad Love was adapted from Maurice Renard’s novel The Hands of Orlac.

Visually, Mad Love is filled with German expressionism in the way it is photographed and in the way the sets are designed and manipulated for visual effect. The opening credits are some of the most creative from this era of Hollywood, with the titles being written on windows and a hand breaking the window at the end. Surprisingly, the cinematography for Mad Love was not shot by Karl Freund, even though it bears his distinctive style. The cinematographers on Mad Love were Chester A. Lyons and Gregg Toland, who would later gain fame as a cinematographer for their work on the Orson Welles film Citizen Kane. The score for Mad Love was composed by Dimitri Tiomkin. The score is very effective and adds a lot to the atmosphere of the film.

When discussing Mad Love, one cannot overlook the presence of Peter Lorre, whose performance ranks amongst his finest work. Peter Lorre is most remembered for playing sinister characters like Hans Beckert in Fritz Lang’s M and the stranger in Stranger on the Third Floor. Doctor Gogol is not a character that is without any redeeming qualities. When he is first introduced, he is a man who helps the less fortunate in his clinic. His mental state starts to decay when he finds out that Yvonne, the woman he has become smitten with, is leaving the world of acting to be with her husband. Doctor Gogol only agrees to help Yvonne because he wants to be near her. His plan almost pays off when Yvonne’s Stephen husband starts to lose his grip on reality when his new hands develop a mind all their own. In the role of Stephen Orlac is Universal horror icon Colin Clive, who horror fans will certainly remember from Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein. It is almost appropriate that Doctor Gogol, like Frankenstein before him, creates monsters because they use human body parts taken from murderers.

Mad Love's plot may be as bloody and as violent by today’s standards. Mad Love was so controversial when it was first released that many scenes had to be trimmed, and in some foreign countries, additional scenes that were in the American version were also cut. Mad Love is the purest example of what a true horror film should be. The film builds tension through its visuals, which imply things more than show them. Leaving what is going on for the viewers’ imagination only further drives home Doctor Gogol’s dementia. One of the most frightening and memorable moments in the films occurs when Doctor Gogol poses as the recently executed murderer, Rollo the Knife Thrower. The metal hands and neck prosthetics are a visual nightmare that cannot be described in mere words. Ultimately, Mad Love is nothing short of a masterpiece which features Peter Lorre and Karl Freund’s best work of their careers.

Mad Love makes its way to Blu-ray via a solid audio/video presentation and it also comes with an insightful audio commentary, highly recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

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