The Whip and the Body – Kino Lorber/Scorpion Releasing (Blu-ray)
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1963
Director: Mario Bava
Writers: Ernesto Gastaldi, Ugo Guerra, Luciano Martino
Cast: Daliah Lavi, Christopher Lee, Tony Kendall, Ida Galli, Harriet Medin, Gustavo De Nardo, Luciano Pigozzi, Jacques Herlin
Release Date: December 17th, 2013
Approximate running time: 87 Minutes 11 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: LPCM Mono English, LPCM Mono Italian, LPCM Mono French
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $24.95
"Marred by controversy at the time of its release, this horror fantasy from Italy's legendary horror director Mario Bava centers on the twisted desires of a nobleman's son (Christopher Lee). Lee is ostracized by his father for his dalliances with a servant girl (who later commits suicide), but is allowed to return to the fold by his brother, whose lovely wife (Dahlia Lavi) immediately becomes the object of Lee's mad lust. Lee is later found murdered, along with several other victims from the surrounding village, leading superstitious locals to believe that Lee's evil spirit has returned to destroy them; the twist ending reveals the real evil at work." - synopsis provided by the distributor
Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "Mastered in HD from an original 35mm print."
The Whip and the Body comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.
Disc Size: 30 GB
Feature: 27.1 GB
Though the image generally looks crisp throughout, there are no issues with compression. These are just a few of the things that this transfer does right. First off, somebody felt the need to drown portions of this film in blue and, though less details are to be expected during darker moments, the darker moments throughout this transfer are often too murky. Overall, this transfer is a big letdown, and yet again, another release for The Whip and the Body comes up way short.
This release comes with three audio options: a LPCM Mono mix in English, a LPCM Mono mix in Italian and a LPCM Mono mix in French. The three audio mixes fare much better than the aforementioned transfer. The dialog is clear enough to follow, everything sounds balanced, and the film’s score sounds appropriately robust throughout. Included with this release are removable English subtitles.
Extras for this release include a theatrical trailer for The Whip and the Body (3 minutes 28 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles) and an audio commentary with Tim Lucas, author of Mario Bava – All the Colors of the Dark.
Other extras include trailers for Black Sunday, A Bay of Blood, Baron Blood, and Lisa and the Devil.
The Whip and the Body is equal parts gothic horror and melodrama. Structurally, the narrative is arguably the strongest point that Mario Bava ever got to work with. Also, all of the characters are well-defined and their motivations are laid out with crystal clarity.
When compared to your atypical horror films, the way in which The Whip and the Body go for the jugular is against the grain. Unfortunately, this unfamiliar turn may lead some viewers to tune out of what is really a meticulously laid out exercise in terror that puts the weight of its shocking payoffs squarely on the shoulders of its atmospheric visuals.
When discussing the films of Mario Bava, one area that often comes up is his use of colors. And in the case of The Whip and the Body, he appears to have reached his apex in regards to his use of colors. Also, The Whip and the Body features many themes that would become the foundation of his later films. A few of these themes include obsession, decaying families, and inner turmoil.
Performance wise, it is really the two leads who carry The Whip and the Body. Daliah Lavi (The Demon) is exquisite in the role of Nevenka Menliff, and Christopher Lee (Count Dracula) is magnificent in the role of Kurt Menliff, her sadistic lover. They have a tremendous amount of chemistry, while the rest of the cast are little more than props used to further the story at hand. The most memorable moment in "The Whip and the Body" is a scene where Kurt whips Nevenka, who starts to enjoy her torment.
Ultimately, The Whip and the Body is a first-rate psychological horror film that for far too long has been under-appreciated. Thankfully, time has been kind to this film as its reputation continues to grow as the years go by.
The Whip and the Body gets a good release from Kino Lorber that comes with a transfer that leaves room for improvement and an insightful audio commentary.
Written by Michael Den Boer