Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Lisa and the Devil – Arrow Video (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

Theatrical Release Dates: Italy/West Germany/Spain, 1973 (Lisa and the Devil), Italy/West Germany/Spain, 1975 (The House of Exorcism)
Directors: Mario Bava (Lisa and the Devil), Mario Bava, Alfredo Leone (The House of Exorcism)
Cast: Telly Savalas, Elke Sommer, Sylva Koscina, Alessio Orano, Gabriele Tinti, Kathleen Leone, Eduardo Fajardo, Franz von Treuberg, Espartaco Santoni, Alida Valli (Lisa and the Devil), Telly Savalas, Elke Sommer, Sylva Koscina, Alessio Orano, Gabriele Tinti, Kathleen Leone, Eduardo Fajardo, Franz von Treuberg, Espartaco Santoni, Alida Valli, Carmen Silva, Robert Alda (The House of Exorcism)

Release Date: February 4th, 2013
Approximate running times: 95 Minutes 22 Seconds (Lisa and the Devil), 91 Minutes 27 Seconds (The House of Exorcism)
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Both Films)
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono Italian, LPCM Mono English (Lisa and the Devil), LPCM Mono English (The House of Exorcism)
Subtitles: English (Lisa and the Devil), English SDH (Lisa and the Devil, The House of Exorcism)
Region Coding: Region Free / Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: OOP (UK)

"Lisa (Elke Sommer) – an American tourist travelling in Spain – loses her tour party and seeks refuge in the tumbledown mansion of a blind countess after being guided there by the distinctly satanic butler of the house, Leandro (Telly Savalas – Horror Express, Kojak). The Son of the Countess notices Lisa’s striking resemblance to his dead lover and pursues her as a night of murder, strange eroticism and dark hallucinations begins." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4/5 (Lisa and the Devil), 3.75/5 (The House of Exorcism)

Lisa and the Devil and The House of Exorcism comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 45.2 GB

Feature: 22.2 GB (Lisa and the Devil), 20.1 GB (The House of Exorcism)

There’s no information given about the two films transfers, and they both appear to be sourced from dated masters. That said, colors and flesh tones look correct, black levels look strong throughout, the image generally looks crisp (there are many moments that have soft focus cinematography) and there are no issues with compression.

Audio: 4/5

Lisa and the Devil comes with two audio options: a LPCM mono mix in English and a LPCM mono mix in Italian and English SDH for the English language track and English for the Italian language track. The House of Exorcism comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in English with English SDH subtitles. All three audio mixes are in very good shape; dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced and range-wise, ambient sounds and the score are well-represented.

Extras:

Extras for Lisa and the Devil include a deleted scene (2 minutes 35 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), an unfinished trailer for Lisa and the Devil (3 minutes 19 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), Alan Jones introduction to Lisa and the Devil (3 minutes 31 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival featurette titled The Exorcism of Lisa (25 minutes 5 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles) and an audio commentary with Tim Lucas, author of Mario Bava – All the Colors of the Dark.

Extras for The House of Exorcism include a radio spot for The House of Exorcism (59 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), a trailer for The House of Exorcism (3 minutes 18 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), U-cert trailer for The House of Exorcism (1 minute 15 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), Alan Jones introduction to The House of Exorcism (3 minutes 31 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles) and an archival audio commentary with producer Alfredo Leone and actress Elke Sommer.

Other extras include a reversible cover art and a twenty-eight page booklet that contains numerous images from the film, cast & crew credits, an essay titled Lisa and the Devil written by Stephen Thrower and an interview with Mario Bava.

Included with this combo release are two DVDs. The first DVD has Lisa and the Devil and all the extras related to Lisa and the Devil. The second DVD has The House of Exorcism and the extras related to The House of Exorcism.

Summary:

Though most directors get into filmmaking with intending to make cinema that’s personal to them. By the time their vision gets to the screen far too often changes imposed by the financial people who ultimately dilute the directors original intentions. Case in point The House of Exorcism, a film that rose from the ashes of Lisa and the Devil. That said, where Lisa and the Devil was a film that’s imbued by it’s director’s passion, The House of Exorcism is a film looking to cash in on the success of The Exorcist.

With Lisa and the Devil, Mario Bava once again returns to the realm of the supernatural. The narrative revolves around a woman named Lisa, who takes a wrong turn while on vacation and then suddenly finds herself trapped in purgatory. Along the way, she encounters several characters (including doppelgangers) that are also caught in a realm that exists between life and death.

Content-wise, Lisa and the Devil has all the elements that have become synonymous with Gothic cinema. And nowhere is this clearer than when it comes to the visuals. Every inch of every frame is beautifully composed, soft-focus cinematography that’s overflowing with atmosphere.

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Lisa and the Devil is that such a film was made during an era when it had become all too common for horror cinema to up the ante when it came to onscreen carnage. Outside a few minor moments of bloodshed, Lisa and the Devil take the opposite approach, one that's tame when compared to other 1970’s horror films.

Lisa and the Devil features a solid cast who are all very good in their respective roles, especially Telly Savalas (Pretty Maids All in a Row, Horror Express) in the role of Leandro, a butler who bears a striking resemblance to the devil’s image from a fresco that Lisa saw. Other performances of note include Alida Valli (Suspiria, Inferno) in the role of a blind countess and Elke Sommer (A Shot in the Dark, Baron Blood) in the role of Lisa.

When discussing the cinema of Mario Bava, it’s his contributions to horror cinema that get the most attention (rightfully so). That said, one must overlook how effectively he used eroticism throughout his filmography, especially in regards to a film like Lisa and the Devil. Ultimately, Lisa and the Devil is an extraordinary film from a filmmaker at the top of their game.

Being a fan of Italian genre cinema, I’ve become accustomed to an abundance of Italian films that are knockoffs of successful films. The House of Exorcism is yet another textbook example of Italian cinema trying to ride the success of another film, with the film in question being The Exorcist. That said, I have thoroughly enjoyed most of the Italian Exorcist knockoffs that I have seen, most notably, Beyond the Door. I cannot say the same for The House of Exorcism.

On the surface, though, The House of Exorcism checks all the boxes that one would expect from an Italian Exorcist knockoff. The result is a film that never reaches the delirious heights that the most celebrated Italian Exorcist knockoffs do. Ultimately, The House of Exorcism’s biggest obstacle is how it pales in every way to Lisa and the Devil, the film from which it spawned.

Lisa and the Devil gets a first-rate release from Arrow Video that comes with two versions of the film and a wealth of extra content, highly recommended.












Written by Michael Den Boer

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