Thursday, October 28, 2021

Nothing Underneath / Too Beautiful to Die – Vinegar Syndrome (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Dates: Italy, 1985 (Nothing Underneath), Italy, 1988 (Too Beautiful to Die)
Directors: Carlo Vanzina (Nothing Underneath), Dario Piana (Too Beautiful to Die)
Cast: Tom Schanley, Renée Simonsen, Nicola Perring, Maria McDonald, Catherine Noyes, Paolo Tomei, Sonia Raule (Nothing Underneath), François-Eric Gendron, Florence Guérin, Randi Ingerman, Giovanni Tamberi, Helena Jesus, Nora Ariffin, François Marthouret, Gioia Scola (Too Beautiful to Die)

Release Date: October 26th, 2021
Approximate Running Times: 94 Minutes 20 Seconds (Nothing Underneath), 99 Minutes 57 Seconds (Too Beautiful to Die)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Both Films)
Rating: NR
Sound: DTS-HD Stereo English, Dolby Digital Stereo Italian (Both Films)
Subtitles: English SDH, English for Italian text (Both Films)
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $43.98

Nothing Underneath "Bob Crane has long maintained a psychic connection to his twin sister, Jessica, who works as a fashion model in Milan. When Bob senses that his sister might be injured or killed, he travels to Italy to look for her, only to discover that she's vanished without a trace. Enlisting the help of about-to-retire Commissioner Danesi, Bob soon finds himself embroiled in a web of mystery and terror, when a scissors wielding killer begins to strike and all clues lead back to Jessica..." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Too Beautiful to Die "A group of high fashion models have been invited to an isolated house to attend a party. As the night wears on, one of the models falls victim to a deadly 'accident,' which sets into motion a series of brutal murders, all traced back to a shocking secret.." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.5/5 (Nothing Underneath), 4.25/5 (Too Beautiful to Die)

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfers, “newly restored 4K from their original 35mm camera negatives."

Nothing Underneath comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 40 GB

Feature: 26.4 GB

Too Beautiful to Die comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 40.6 GB

Feature: 27.8 GB

The sources used for both films’ transfers look excellent. Colors are nicely saturated, flesh tones look correct, image clarity and black levels look solid throughout and grain remains intact. That said, though both transfers look great, Nothing Underneath’s transfer looks slightly stronger than Too Beautiful to Die’s transfer.

Audio: 4.5/5 (DTS-HD Stereo English), 3/5 (Dolby Digital Stereo Italian)

Both films come with two audio options, a DTS-HD stereo mix in English and a Dolby Digital stereo mix in Italian. The stronger of these two audio tracks is the DTS-HD stereo English track, which is superior in every way. The DTS-HD stereo English track sounds fuller and more dynamic than the Dolby Digital stereo Italian track, which sounds flat. Both films come with two subtitle options, English SDH subtitles for the English language tracks and English subtitles for onscreen text that’s in Italian.


Extras for Nothing Underneath include an interview with actor Tom Schanley titled Models, Murders and Italy (19 minutes 20 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English with removable English subtitles), an interview with composer Pino Donaggio titled High Fashion Music (12 minutes 36 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with screenwriter Franco Ferrini titled Murder He Wrote (28 minutes 56 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with screenwriter Enrico Vanzina titled Murders a la Mode (28 minutes 34 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an audio commentary with The Hysteria Continues! and an audio commentary with film historian and critic Rachael Nisbet.

Extras for Too Beautiful to Die include deleted scenes storyboards (12 minutes 21 seconds), alternate ending storyboards (1 minute 59 seconds), an interview with screenwriter/director Dario Piana titled Nothing True But The Eyes (42 minutes 13 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles) and an audio commentary with film historian and critic Rachael Nisbet.

Rounding out the extras are a reversible cover, the outside cover art is for Nothing Underneath, and the inside cover art is for Too Beautiful to Die. There is also an embossed slipcover limited to 5,000 units.


Nothing Underneath: When discussing the Giallo genre, it's hard not to acknowledge Dario Aregnto’s influence on this genre. And though the films Gialli made during the 1970’s bear a strong resemblance to the foundation laid by Dario Argento, By the 1980's, his influence over Italian thrillers would be eclipsed by other filmmakers like Brian De Palma. A case in point is a film like Nothing Underneath.

From its opening moments, Nothing Underneath boldly wears its cinema influences. Whether it is its premise that has many striking similarities to Brian De Palma’s Body Double and other films directed by him. Also, Nothing Underneath’s  score was composed by Pino Donaggio (who also composed Body Double’s score). In fact, the main music motif in Nothing Underneath is a slight variation of the song Telescope from Body Double. Needless to say, there are an ample number of moments in Nothing Underneath that will have you feeling deja vu.

Being that Nothing Underneath is a story that takes place in the world of fashion, it's not surprising how colorful the clothing and locations are. The look of Nothing Underneath has a pastel color scheme that’s synonymous with 1980’s cinema. And of course, there’s an abundance of beautiful women scantily dressed/undressed.

From a production standpoint, Nothing Underneath is a slickly put together film. The premise is well-executed and the narrative does a good balancing of mundane moments with stylish sequences where the killer strikes. Besides Pino Donaggio’s fabulous score, Nothing Underneath also features pop music like Murray Head's One Night in Bangkok and Gloria Gaynor's I Am What I Am. The performances suit the story at hand. The most memorable performance was by Renée Simonsen in the role of a model named Barbara. Ultimately, Nothing Underneath is arguably one of the better 1980’s Gialli not directed by Dario Argento.

Too Beautiful to Die: It's a time-old tradition of trying to capitalize on something successful. And in the world of cinema, there’s never a shortage of sequels, reboots, and knockoffs. That said, this is even more prevalent in the world of Italian cinema, which has had a long tradition of cannibalizing films that were successful. 

This brings us to Too Beautiful to Die, a film that’s best described as a spiritual successor to Nothing Underneath. Though many of the creative talents behind Nothing Underneath contribute to Too Beautiful to Die, The result is a film that couldn't be more unlike the film that preceded it.

Front and center, the element that Too Beautiful to Die is most sorely missing is a score composed by Pino Donaggio. What Too Beautiful to Die has is a generic score that is further propped up by several pop songs like Frankie Goes to Hollywood's Warriors of the Wasteland, Toto's I Won't Hold You Back and Huey Lewis & The News' Perfect World. And to further compound things, the use of pop music in Too Beautiful to Die feels like an excuse to do extended music video like sequences.

Though Too Beautiful to Die had all the sources it needed at its disposal, The execution is not of the same level that Nothing Underneath achieved. That said, there’s only so much beautiful women and stylish visuals can do, when everything else is lacking. Also, the kill sequences are best described as underwhelming. Ultimately, Too Beautiful to Die is a mildly entertaining Gialli, and even the most hardcore Gialli fans will find it a rough ride.

Nothing Underneath and Too Beautiful to Die is a solid release from Vinegar Syndrome. Both films have never looked or sounded better on home video and both films come with a wealth of insightful extra content, highly recommended.

Written by Michael Den Boer

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