Friday, December 17, 2021

Mill of the Stone Women: Limited Edition – Arrow Video (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy/France, 1960
Director: Giorgio Ferroni
Writers: Remigio Del Grosso, Giorgio Ferroni, Ugo Liberatore, Louis Sauvat, Giorgio Stegani, Pieter van Weigen
Cast: Pierre Brice, Scilla Gabel, Wolfgang Preiss, Dany Carrel, Herbert A.E. Böhme, Liana Orfei, Marco Guglielmi, Olga Solbelli, Alberto Archetti

Release Date: December 13th, 2021 (UK), December 14th, 2021 (USA)
Approximate Running Times: 95 Minutes 36 Seconds (Italian Version), 95 Minutes 37 Seconds (English Export Version), 89 Minutes 51 Seconds (French Version), 94 Minutes 29 Seconds (US Version)
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (All Versions)
Rating: 15 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: LPCM Mono Italian (Italian Version), LPCM Mono English (English Export Version), LPCM Mono French (French Version), LPCM Mono English (US Version)
Subtitles: English (Italian Version), English SDH (English Export Version), English (French Version), English SDH (US Version)
Region Coding: Region A,B
Retail Price: £39.99 (UK), $59.95 (USA)

"Young art student Hans von Arnam (Pierre Brice, Night of the Damned) arrives by barge at an old mill to write a monograph about its celebrated sculptures of women in the throes of death and torture, maintained and curated by the mill’s owner, the hermetic Professor Wahl (Herbert Böhme, Secret of the Red Orchid). But when Hans encounters the professor’s beautiful and mysterious daughter Elfi (Scilla Gabel, Modesty Blaise), his own fate becomes inexorably bound up with hers, and with the shocking secret that lies at the heart of the so-called Mill of the Stone Women." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.5/5 (Italian Version, English Export Version, US Version) 3.75/5 (French Version)

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "The original 35mm negative was scanned and restored in 2K resolution at L'Immagine Ritrovata, Bologna. Additional 35mm intermediary elements were scanned and restored in 2K for the opening titles in the English export version.

The film was confirmed and graded at R3Store Studios, London. The separate French and US versions were subsequently conformed at Arrow Films, using a combination of the original 35mm negative and additional scanned material supplied by Subkultur Entertainment via LSP Medien."

Mill of the Stone Women comes on two 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc One Size: 45.9 GB

Feature: 27.1 GB (Italian Version, English Export Version)

Disc Two Size: 45.7 GB

Feature: 22.1 GB (French Version), 23.3 GB (US Version)

The sources used for the transfers are in great shape, except for the source used for the French version, whose opening credits are not in as good of shape as the bulk of its transfer. Also, the main difference between these transfers is the quality of their opening credits sequences, which vary quality-wise. Color saturation is very good, image clarity and black levels look solid throughout, and grain looks organic.

Audio: 4/5

Each version comes with one audio option: a LPCM mono mix in Italian (Italian Version), a LPCM mono mix in English (English Export Version), a LPCM mono mix in French (French Version), and a LPCM mono mix in English (US Version). All four audio mixes are in great shape; the dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. Range-wise, the score and ambient sounds are well-represented. It should be noted that there are some minor instances where background hiss can be heard. Included with this release are English subtitles for the Italian Version, English SDH for the English Export Version, English subtitles for the French Version, and English SDH for the US Version.

Extras:

Extras on disc one include image galleries: posters (11 images), stills and lobby cards (77 images), German pressbook (14 images), and US pressbook (19 images), US theatrical trailer (2 minutes 2 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), German theatrical trailer (3 minutes 19 seconds, Dolby Digital mono German with removable English subtitles), alternate opening titles: UK Drops of Blood title sequence (1 minute 30 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), and German title sequence (2 minutes 43 seconds, Dolby Digital mono German with removable English subtitles), an archival interview with actor Wolfgang Preiss tilted  A Little Chat with Dr. Mabuse (15 minutes 52 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo German with removable English subtitles), a featurette containing archival interviews with actress Liana Orfei and film historian Fabio Melelli titled Turned to Stone (27 minutes 7 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), a visual essay on the trope of the wax/statue woman in Gothic horror by author and film critic Kat Ellinger titled Mill of the Stone Women & The Gothic Body (24 minutes 10 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles) and an audio commentary with Tim Lucas, author of Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark.

Other extras include reversible cover art, a fold-out double-sided poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork, six double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproduction art cards and sixty-page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled Blood from Stone: Giorgio Ferroni’s Mill of the Stone Women written by Roberto Curti, an essay titled Multiple Mills: The Many Versions of Mill of the Stone Women written by Brad Stevens, contemporary reviews and information about the restoration/transfers.

Summary:

Though most of Giorgio Ferroni’s films are run of the mill genre films, He directed two exceptional horror films, Night of the Devil and Mill of the Stone Women. And in the case of the latter film, it is actually one of the earlier examples of Italian Gothic horror.

Despite the fact that Mill of the Stone Women contains all of the elements that are associated with Italian Gothic horror. The result is a film that stands apart from other Italian Gothic horror films because of its striking use of color, instead of black and white.

Two films that clearly influenced "Mill of the Stone Women" are House of Wax and Eyes Without a Face. With that, the father and daughter characters in Mill of the Stone Women bear a strong resemblance to similar characters in Eyes Without a Face.

All around, the entire cast is very good in their respective roles, especially Scilla Gabel (Modesty Blaise)'s portrayal of Elfie Wahl, a mysterious woman whose beauty is connected to blood transfusions. She delivers an alluring performance in the role of a seductress. Another performance of note is Herbert A.E. Böhme’s sinister portrayal of Professor Gregorius Wahl, Elfie’s father.

From a production standpoint, there’s not an area where the Mill of the Stone Women does not excel. The premise is superbly realized, the well-executed narrative is perfectly paced, and the finale provides a very satisfying coda. Another strength of Mill of the Stone Women is its vivid use of colors and cinematography that's overflowing with atmosphere. Ultimately, The Mill of the Stone Women is arguably one of the best Gothic horror films.

Mill of the Stone Women gets a definitive release from Arrow Video that comes with solid audio/video presentations, four versions of the film, and a wealth of insightful extra content, highly recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

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