Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Perversion Story (One on Top of the Other) - Mondo Macabro (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy/France/Spain, 1969
Director: Lucio Fulci
Writers: Lucio Fulci, Roberto Gianviti, José Luis Martínez Mollá
Cast: Jean Sorel, Marisa Mell, Elsa Martinelli, Alberto de Mendoza, John Ireland, Riccardo Cucciolla, George Rigaud, Faith Domergue, Malisa Longo, Bobby Rhodes

Release Date: November 13th, 2018
Approximate running time: 107 Minutes 54 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: NR
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English, DTS-HD Mono Italian
Subtitles: English
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.95

"Dr. George Dumurrier is looking for money to expand the San Francisco based clinic he runs with his brother. He is also having an affair with Jane, a glamorous fashion photographer. When Dumurrier’s wife Susan dies following an asthma attack, leaving him a million dollar insurance payout, it seems that all his problems are solved – until an anonymous phone call sends him to the Roaring 20s strip club where he is astonished to discover that its featured performer, the dangerously desirable Monica Weston, looks exactly like his dead wife. As he tries to unravel this mystery, George learns that the police are now investigating his wife’s death and that he is under suspicion of murder." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.25/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "HD transfer from film negative".

Perversion Story (One on Top of the Other) comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 40.6 GB

Feature: 28.8 GB

Severin Films released Perversion Story (One on Top of the Other) on DVD fifteen years ago, and though the transfer looked good at that time. This new transfer is the best this film has looked on home video. Colors are nicely saturated, image clarity is consistently solid, and black levels stay strong throughout. The grain looks natural, and there are no issues with compression.

Audio: 4/5 (DTS-HD Mono Italian, DTS-HD Mono English)

This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and a DTS-HD mono mix in Italian. Both audio mixes sound clean, clear, and balanced throughout. Range-wise, the score sounds appropriately robust, and the ambient sounds are well represented. Included with this release are removable English subtitles.

Extras:

Extras for this release include a Mondo Macabro preview reel, a theatrical trailer (4 minutes 22 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), an interview with author Stephen Thrower (38 minutes 22 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with actress Elsa Martinelli titled The Last Diva (9 minutes 58 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles) and an interview with actor Jean Sorel titled On Death Row (29 minutes 47 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles).

Summary:

Lucio Fulci directed six Giallo films that are all unique twists on this popular genre. Having said that, unlike most of his contemporaries, who made these films mostly by the book and often imitated other successful giallo entries, what is also surprising about the first four Giallo films directed by Lucio Fulci is how restrained the violence is, both on and off screen. Perversion Story (One on Top of the Other) plays out more like an Alfred Hitchcock thriller and strays far away from the style and cliches that are prevalent throughout most Giallos made in the 1970s.

Perversion Story (One on Top of the Other) is set in a variety of memorable locations, including Reno, San Francisco, and San Quentin. Director Lucio Fulci makes good use of the various locations at his disposal. Lucio Fucli, at this point in his career, was mostly known for directing comedies, and Perversion Story (One on Top of the Other) was his first foray into the thriller genre.

From a production standpoint, Perversion Story (One on Top of the Other) is overflowing with stylish cinematography that takes full advantage of its scenic locations. Also, the premise is superbly realized, the narrative does a great job maintaining the mounting tension, and an excellent twist ending provides a perfect coda.

Performance-wise, the cast is very good in their respective roles. Perversion Story’s (One on Top of the Other) heart and soul are Marissa Mell’s (Danger: Diabolik) performances in the roles of Susan Dumurrier and Monica Weston. Both characters are like night and day. With Marisa Mell looking sickly and very unglamorous as Susan Dumurrier before her transformation into the other world's stunning beauty known as Monica Weston, the scene that is most memorable in the film is Marisa Mell’s entrance as Monica Weston, a nightclub stripper.

With its many well-executed plot twists and a very satisfying surprise ending, the narrative is one of the best you'll ever see for a giallo. Perversion Story (One on Top of the Other) is a restrained film that contrasts sharply with Lucio Fucli's later films, which rely heavily on his violent set pieces. Ultimately, Perversion Story (One on Top of the Other) is one of Lucio Fulci’s most polished and rewatchable films.

Perversion Story (One on Top of the Other) gets a solid release from Mondo Macabro that comes with a strong audio/video presentation and a trio of informative extras, highly recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin – Mondo Macabro (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1971
Director: Lucio Fulci
Writers: Lucio Fulci, Roberto Gianviti, José Luis Martínez Mollá, André Tranché
Cast: Florinda Bolkan, Stanley Baker, Jean Sorel, Anita Strindberg

Release Date: February 9th, 2016
Approximate running time: 104 Minutes 11 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: NR
Sound: LPCM Mono Italian, LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.95

"Carol Hammond, the sexually frustrated wife of a successful London lawyer, is having bizarre, erotic dreams about her uninhibited neighbor, Julia Durer, who presides over noisy, sex and drug filled parties in the house next door. One night, Carol’s dreams culminate in violent death and she wakes to find her nightmares have become reality – Julia has been murdered and Carol is the main suspect." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.25/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "HD transfer from film negative".

A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin comes on a 25 GB single layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 22.5 GB

Feature: 20.2 GB

Le Chat Qui Fum released A Lizard in a Woman's Skin on Blu-ray in 2015, and Mondo Macabro uses the same source for their transfer. And though these two transfers originated from the same source, they are not identical. Mondo Macabro’s transfer boasts more vibrant colors and stronger black levels, and the grain is more pronounced. Also, Mondo Macabro’s transfer incorporates 1 minute and 17 seconds of footage that is not present in the aforementioned Le Chat Qui Fum Blu-ray release. It should also be noted that this extra footage comes from a lesser source and is the same footage that was included as part of the Optimum Releasing A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin DVD release.

Audio: 4/5 (LPCM Mono Italian, LPCM Mono English)

This release comes with two audio options, a LPCM mono mix in Italian and a LPCM mono mix in English. Range-wise, both of these audio mixes sound very good and robust when they need to. With Ennio Morricone’s score benefiting most from these audio mixes, the dialog is always clear, everything sounds balanced, and there are no issues with background noise or distortion. Included with this release are removable English subtitles for the Italian language track.

Extras:

Extras for this release include a Mondo Macabro preview reel, two radio spots (1 minute 34 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), alternate Italian opening credits (1 minute 23 seconds, Dolby Digital mono) three theatrical trailers (4 minutes 54 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), an interview with actor Tony Adams titled From Burton to Baker (12 minutes 29 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with author Stephen Thrower titled When Worlds Collide (29 minutes 9 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), a documentary titled Shedding the Skin (33 minutes 47 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, French and Italian with non-removable English subtitles) Shedding the Skin comes with optional commentary with Kris Gavin, an interview with Lucio Fulci titled Dr. Lucio Fulci’s Day for Night (32 minutes 5 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles) and an audio commentary with Kris Gavin and Pete Tombs.

Summary:

Lucio Fulci is most remembered for his gore-soaked classics like The Beyond and Zombie 2. Most of his films from this later period of his career have been released on DVD, while a few of his more prominent early works are still languishing in obscurity. Over the course of his career, Lucio Fulci would only direct a handful of giallo films: Don’t Torture a Duckling, The New York Ripper, A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, One on Top of the Other, and Seven Notes in Black. It is in the giallo genre that Lucio Fulci excels most as an artist, directing some of the best films of his career. Lucio Fulci would also work with Florinda Bolkan in another giallo, Don’t Torture a Duckling.

Out of the six giallo films that Lucio Fulci directed, each one has its own distinct style that sets it apart from his other entries in this genre. A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin sees Lucio Fulci not only follow some of the traditional giallo standards, but he also spends an ample amount of time experimenting with his various collaborators on this film. One of Lucio Fulci’s most important collaborators is his editor. A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin would mark the first of nineteen collaborations between editor Vincenzo Tomassi and director Lucio Fulci. His rhythmic pacing for A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin adds to the film's dreamlike quality. 

Some of the credit for the look of A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin can be attributed to the film's cinematographer, who also shot Dario Argento’s influential giallo Profondo rosso and Lucio Fulci’s delightfully disturbing The New York Ripper. He employs a number of common techniques, such as split-screen and wave-like frame distortion, to help disorient the viewer. Lucio Fulci’s films have never been as colorful as his contemporary Dario Argento’s films. A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin is Lucio Fulci’s most colorful film that I have seen to date.

It is hard to believe that A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin is the only time legendary composer Ennio Morricone ever worked with Lucio Fulci. The finished score is nothing short of perfect as Ennio Morricone employs to its fullest the sweet voice of a female whose vocal pattern is more like a chant than actual spoken words. The rest of the score goes from melancholy heartbreak arrangements to menacing string arrangements that sound like fingernails across a chalk board. A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin is one of Ennio Morricone’s most diverse and accomplished scores.

A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin is blessed with a marvelous cast that includes Florinda Bolkan (Footprints), Stanley Baker, Jean Sorel (Belle de Jour), and Anita Strindberg (The Case of the Scorpion's Tale). Stanley Baker is best known for his role in the film Zulu as Inspector Corvin. His character has an unusual quirk in which he can be heard whistling through A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin. This little nuance helps define his character's personality, and at times the whistling can become unnerving. My appreciation for Florinda Bolkan as an actress grows with each new film I see her in. Her performance is what the whole film hinges on, and it is totally to her credit that A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin works as well as it does.

Lucio Fulci is now receiving the acclaim that has eluded him his whole life. He was a diverse director who made masterpieces out of virtually nothing, and with A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, he creates one of the golden age of giallo’s finest moments that has to be seen to truly appreciate it.

A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin gets an exceptional release from Mondo Macabro that comes with a strong audio/video presentation and a wealth of informative extras, highly recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

The Devil’s Honey – 88 Films (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1986
Director: Lucio Fulci|
Writers: Jaime Jesús Balcázar, Lucio Fulci, Ludovica Marineo, Sergio Partou, Vincenzo Salviani
Cast: Brett Halsey, Corinne Clery, Blanca Marsillach, Stefano Madia, Paula Molina, Bernard Seray

Release Date: May 18th, 2020
Approximate running time: 82 Minutes 49 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono Italian, LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: £14.99 (UK)

"Brett Halsey (A Cat in the Brain, Four Times That Night) plays a brilliant surgeon who, when distracted by personal problems, accidentally causes a patient to die in surgery. Determined to avenge this, the man's grief-crazed former lover kidnaps the doc and undertakes a very kinky type of vengeance – there's no safe word here..." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.5/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "2K Scan from Original Vault Materials. Exclusive dust and scratch Restoration carried out in the UK."

The Devil’s Honey comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 40.2 GB

Feature: 24.2 GB

Though The Devil’s Honey had been previously released on Blu-ray by Severin Films, that transfer left room for improvement. This new transfer from 88 Films greatly improves image clarity; grain has been handled better; compression looks stronger; and it also appears that some extra cleanup was done for this transfer.

Audio: 4/5 (LPCM Mono Italian) 3.75/5 (LPCM Mono English)

This release comes with two audio options, a LPCM mono mix in Italian and a LPCM mono mix in English. Both audio mixes are in great shape; dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced, and ambient sounds and the score are well-represented. This release includes removable English subtitles that are a direct translation of the Italian language track rather than dub-titles like the subtitles used by Severin Films for their Blu-ray release.

Extras:

Extras for this release include a slipcover (limited to first pressing), reversible cover art, a theatrical trailer (2 minutes 40 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), alternate English language opening credits and closing under the title Dangerous Obsession (6 minutes 33 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), Italian language opening and closing titles (3 minutes 7 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Italian, no subtitles), an audio essay by Troy Howarth author of Splintered Visions – Lucio Fulci And His Films titled Fulci’s Honey (16 minutes 56 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with author Stephen Thrower author of Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci (21 minutes 44 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with composer Claudio Natili titled The Devil’s Sax (9 minutes 51 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with burnt-in English subtitles), an interview with producer Vincenzo Salviani titled Producing Honey (13 minutes 22 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with burnt-in English subtitles), an interview with actress Corinne Cléry titled Wild Flower (12 minutes 13 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with burnt-in English subtitles), an interview with actor Brett Halsey titled The Devil’s Halsey (17 minutes 26 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles) and an audio commentary with film historian Samm Deighan.

Summary:

The Devil’s Honey was co-written and directed by Lucio Fulci, who is primarily known for his gore films like The Beyond and Zombie and thrillers like Don’t Torture a Duckling and A Woman in a Lizard’s Skin. Though there have been erotic undertones in many of his films. Outside of a handful of erotica/comedy hybrids like The Eroticist, Dracula in the Provinces, and My Sister in Law, he rarely ventured into the erotica genre.

The Devil’s Honey is a story about two lovers, Johnny, an up-and-coming musician, and Jessica, his girlfriend. The film establishes early on that they have a very psychic relationship that is frequently tumultuous. Johnny rides around Jessica on his motorcycle one day after a lover's spat to prove his undying love for her. This event leads to him hitting his head really hard on a rock, which leads to his seeing a doctor named Wendell Simpson, a prominent brain surgeon. Doctor Simpson, the surgeon called in to operate on Johnny, was also going through his own turbulent relationship woes with his wife, Caroline. Unable to focus, Johnny dies during the operation. This is when The Devil’s Honey shifts away from its blatantly overt use of erotica into themes more geared towards revenge. Jessica kidnaps Doctor Simpson, whom she then proceeds to put through a series of grueling punishments. Not wanting him to die until he has suffered to her liking, she even gives him mouth-to-mouth in one scene to revive him after he nearly drowns.

Though revenge is the modus operandi of the latter half of the film, this does not mean that The Devil’s Honey has abandoned its erotic overtones that dominate the opening part of the film. In fact, during the bulk of the time that the Jessica Simpson character is torturing the Doctor Simpson character, she is either topless or fully nude. Visually, The Devil's Honey demonstrates that director Lucio Fulci was always able to create interesting compositions and set pieces despite a limited budget or material.

The Devil’s Honey’s strongest asset is its editing. The Devil’s Honey editor Vincenzo Tomassi worked with director Lucio Fulci a total of sixteen times, beginning with The Eroticist and ending with Voices from Beyond. Also, The Devil’s Honey does a great job filling in the backstory of Johnny and Jessica through a series of flashbacks.

The Devil’s Honey features a few familiar faces: Brett Halsey in the role of Doctor Simpson (Four Times That Night), in his first collaboration with Lucio Fulci, and Corinne Clery (Hitch Hike) in the role of the doctor’s wife Caroline. The Devil’s Honey’s most memorable performance comes from Blanca Marsillach in the role of Jessica, the girlfriend of the musician who tragically dies. That being said, as good as her performance in The Devil's Honey is, it only highlights how bad Stefano Madia's performance as Johnny is. In the end, The Devil's Honey is a late-career Lucio Fulci film that demonstrated what he was capable of producing when given adequate resources and a compelling story to work with.

The Devil’s Honey gets an excellent release from 88 Films that comes with a strong audio/video presentation and a wealth of informative extras, highly recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

Monday, November 28, 2022

Drunken Master – Eureka Video (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1978
Director: Yuen Woo-Ping
Writers: Lung Hsiao, See-Yuen Ng
Cast: Jackie Chan, Siu-Tin Yuen, Jeong-lee Hwang, Dean Shek, Kau Lam, Linda Lin, Tino Wong, Hsia Hsu

Release Date: April 24th, 2017
Approximate running time: 111 Minutes 12 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 12 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono Cantonese, LPCM Mono Mandarin, LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Chinese
Region Coding: Region Free (Blu-ray), Region 0 NTSC (DVD)
Retail Price: £14.99 (UK)

"Jackie Chan plays Wong Fei-hung (a legendary Chinese folk hero who has also been portrayed on screen by Jet Li, Gordon Liu and Donnie Yen amongst many others), who is punished for his frequent troublemaking by being forced to study under the martial arts master Su Hua Chi (Yuen Siu-tien), notorious for his drinking as much as he is for leaving his students crippled. Wong proves himself an adept pupil, but his new skills are soon put to the test when his own father is targeted by a brutal assassin (Hwang Jang Lee, Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow)." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.5/5

Here’s the information provided about the transfer, "Definitive transfer from 4K digital restoration".

Drunken Master comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 46.1 GB

Feature: 34.4 GB

For this release, a brand-new transfer has been created from a 4K digital restoration, and the end result is one of the best-looking vintage Hong Kong cinema transfers that I have seen to date. And when compared to this film's previous home video releases, this new transfer greatly improves upon color saturation, black levels, and image clarity. Also, there are no issues with compression, and the grain remains intact.

Audio: 4.25/5 (LPCM Mono Cantonese, LPCM Mono English), 4/5 (LPCM Mono Mandarin)

This release comes with three audio options, a LPCM mono mix in Cantonese, a LPCM mono mix in Mandarin, and a LPCM mono mix in English. All three audio mixes sound clean, clear, balanced, and robust when they need to. That said, the Cantonese and English language tracks sound fuller than the Mandarin language track. Included with this release are three subtitle options: English, English SDH, English/Chinese subtitles from the film’s Hong Kong theatrical release, and English subtitles for the Mandarin audio track. It should be noted that the Mandarin audio track was created for the shorter version of the film, and scenes that were not recorded in Mandarin are presented in English.

Exrtras:

Extras for this release include a theatrical trailer (4 minutes 27 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), a UK music promo (1 minute 29 seconds, LPCM stereo), a deleted scene (1 minute 48 seconds, LPCM mono), a segment titled Kicking Showcase (1 minute 34 seconds, LPCM mono), an interview with producer NG See Yuen (14 minutes 5 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with Jackie Chan (21 minutes 8 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Chinese with removable English subtitles), an interview with filmmaker Gareth Evans (21 minutes 24 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with film scholar Tony Rayns (41 minutes 36 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an audio commentary with Hong Kong film experts Ric Meyers and Jeff Yang, and a twenty-page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay about the film written by Michael Brooke, a section titled Poster Gallery and information about the transfer titled Notes on Viewing.

Included with this release is a DVD that has the same content as the Blu-ray included as part of this combo release.

Summary:

When discussing martial arts cinema, there is no denying Bruce Lee’s impact on the genre. And though there was a concerted effort to find someone to fill the void left by his untimely death, the majority of so-called successful actors are nothing more than "clones" of Bruce Lee.

By the end of the 1970s, martial arts cinema was at a crossroads. And what was once considered "tried and true" formulas were starting to wear thin. Fortunately, martial arts cinema was about to experience a resurgence that would finally free the genre from Bruce Lee’s long shadow.

And though there were a handful of films from this era that have left a lasting impact on martial arts cinema, there is one that stands taller than its contemporaries, and its influence continues to reverberate. Case in point: Drunken Master.

Drunken Master's premise appears to be another all-too-common story about a fighter who must drastically improve his Kung Fu in order to defeat an evil nemesis. And yet the end result is something that puts a much-needed spin on this subject. With comedy playing an integral role in this film’s success.

From a production standpoint, there is not an area where Drunken Master does not excel. The narrative is meticulously constructed, and pacing is never an issue as key moments are given just the right amount of time to resonate for maximum impact. And when it comes to the fight sequences, they are all creative and well executed. The scene where the protagonist is badly beaten and humiliated by Thunderleg and a training sequence where the protagonist learns "Drunken Fist" Kung Fu are standout moments.

Performance-wise, the entire cast is very good in their respective roles. with the standout performance being Jackie Chan (Police Story) in the role of Wong Fei-Hung, a Chinese folk hero who has had numerous movies and television shows made about him. Before becoming Drunken Master Jackie Chan, he was one of many actors who were groomed to be a successor to Bruce Lee. In these films, he was essentially a Bruce Lee "clone," and these films were considered box office failures. His breakout film would be Drunken Master, a film that finally allowed him to incorporate more of himself into the roles he portrayed. Other standout performances include Jang Lee Hwang (Game of Death 2, Ninja Strikes Back) in the role of Thunderleg and Siu Tin Yuen (Heroes of the East) in the role of the Drunken Master. Finally, Drunken Master is a high point in 1970s martial arts cinema, laying the groundwork for where Hong Kong martial arts films would go in the 1980s.

Drunken Master gets a definitive release from Eureka Video, highly recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Beatrice Cenci – 88 Films (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1969
Director: Lucio Fulci
Writers: Lucio Fulci, Roberto Gianviti
Cast: Tomas Milian, Adrienne Larussa, Georges Wilson, Mavie, Antonio Casagrande, Ignazio Spalla

Release Date: October 21st, 2019
Approximate running time: 93 Minutes 42 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono Italian, LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: £14.99 (UK)

"Tomas Milian (Syndicate Sadists), Adrienne Laurussa (The Man Who Fell to Earth) and Georges Wilson (Don’t Torture a Duckling) co-star in this brutal re-telling of the Cenci Family. The film depicts the horrific events that led to the demise of one of Italy’s most prestigious families, through two timelines we establish how, and why, this much-loved family were sent to the guillotine in 1599. Based on the tragic true story, Beatrice Cenci (A.K.A The Conspiracy of Torture) shook Italy to its very core upon release in 1969 thanks to its strong condemnation of the Catholic church and set Lucio Fulci on a collision course with the graphic violence that would become synonymous with his most popular works." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 5/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "Brand New 2K Scan from The Original 35mm Negatives. Extensive Cleanup and Colour Correction Carried out in the UK."

Beatrice Cenci comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 42.2 GB

Feature: 27.4 GB

The source used for this transfer is in great shape. Flesh tones look correct, colors are nicely saturated, black and contrast remain strong throughout, details generally look crisp, and there are no issues with compression. When compared to previous home video releases, this transfer is a marked improvement.

Audio: 4.25/5 (LPCM Mono Italian, LPCM Mono English)

This release comes with two audio options, a LPCM mono mix in Italian and a LPCM mono mix in English. Both audio mixes are in very good shape; dialog comes through clearly, and everything sounds balanced. There are two subtitle options for this release. There are removable English subtitles for the Italian language track and removable English SDH subtitles for the English language track.

Extras:

Extras for this release include an interview with Stephen Thrower author of Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci titled A Most Violent Year (33 minutes, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with actor Antonio Casagrande titled A Jack of All Trades (28 minutes 52 seconds, LPCM stereo Italian with removable English subtitles)an audio commentary with Troy Howarth author of Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films, reversible cover art, and a slipcover (limited to first pressing).

Summary:

The year was 1969, and though Lucio Fulci had directed films for a decade, he had yet to make a film that made any breakthrough with audiences outside of his native Italy. Earlier in the year, he achieved his first international success with the thriller One on Top of the Other, and he would follow that up with the very skillful period drama Beatrice Cenci. Despite his success, this time in his life would mark one of the greatest tragedies of his life: the suicide of his wife.

Beatrice Cenci would mark the height of Lucio Fulci’s creative powers, as he would create a film unlike anything he had made before or would ever come close to creating again. Every film that followed Beatrice Cenci would see the level of violence increase while the budgets continued to shrink, putting a strain on Lucio Fulci's creativity. That is not to say that there are not a few nasty scenes in Beatrice Cenci, like a scene where a man gets eaten alive by dogs and this film’s center piece, a grueling torture scene that highlights Lucio Fulci’s sadistic side.

Beatrice Cenci’s screenplay is flawless. There’s not a single moment of composition wasted in this film. It is a visual delight that is only further raised by Lucio Fulci’s distinctive style. Lucio Fulci also does an admirable job holding back and not overusing or exploiting violence to make up for whatever else the production might be lacking, like he would do on so many of his later films.

Also, like many of Lucio Fulci’s best films, one must not forget his collaborators and Beatrice Cenci’s beautiful visuals, shot by cinematographer Erico Menczer, whose other work includes The Cat O' Nine Tails and Professional Killer. Beatrice Cenci’s sparse score has a few motifs that are spellbinding and evocative.

Beatrice Cenci features one of Lucio Fulci's best performances to date. Tomas Milian, who would work with Lucio Fulci a few more times, gives another mesmerizing performance as Olimpo, the seduced lover turned murderer. Adrienne Larussa is surprisingly good in the title role of Beatrice Cenci, and considering this is one of her first films, the result exceeds all expectations. And George Wilson plays the role of the incestuous father Francesco Cenci with the right amount of sleaze and sadism.

Once again, we have another film in which the Catholic Church is not shown in a good light, and Lucio Fulci does a solid job showing the corruption not only within the church but also in society during this time period. Beatrice Cenci's bleak narrative has no redeeming characters; not even the protagonist manages to evoke any sympathy since her plight is due to her own choices.

It’s too bad that Lucio Fulci’s career didn’t feature more films like Beatrice Cenci. Throughout his career, he had a knack for creating some of cinema’s most unforgettable moments out of nothing. And yet, though his reputation as a filmmaker has grown over the years, far too many critics and fans of Italian cinema don’t hold him in the same regard as many of his contemporaries, most notably Dario Argento. Despite being overshadowed by Dario Argento, there’s plenty of evidence that Lucio Fucli, on many levels, is the more talented filmmaker of the two. That being said, Lucio Fulci is not merely a genre filmmaker; he’s without a doubt one of Italy’s greatest filmmakers.

88 Films gives Beatrice Cenci its best home video release to date, highly recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

Macabre – 88 Films (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1980
Director: Lamberto Bava
Writers: Antonio Avati, Pupi Avati, Lamberto Bava, Roberto Gandus
Cast: Bernice Stegers, Stanko Molnar, Veronica Zinny, Roberto Posse, Ferdinando Orlandi, Fernando Pannullo, Elisa Kadigia Bove

Release Date: May 18th, 2020
Approximate running time: 89 Minutes 47 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono English, LPCM Mono Italian
Subtitles: English
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: £14.99 (UK)

"Still recovering from a pair of tragic and traumatic bereavements, Jane Baker (Bernice Steggers; Xtro, Sky Pilots) moves into a new apartment in New Orleans. The owner’s son, Robert, is blind – but that doesn’t stop him hearing what Jane gets up to. It sounds like she’s resumed her passionate affair with her lover, Fred. Except that Fred died a year ago…" - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 5/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "NEW 2K Restoration from the Original Camera Negative".

Macabre comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 31.8 GB

Feature: 25.8 GB

The source used for this transfer is in excellent shape; the colors are nicely saturated, the details look crisp, the black levels look strong throughout, and there are no issues with compression.

Audio: 4.5/5 (LPCM Mono English, LPCM Mono Italian)

This release comes with two audio options, a LPCM mono mix in English and a LPCM mono mix in Italian. Both audio mixes are in good shape; dialog comes through clearly; everything sounds balanced; and range-wise, ambient sounds and the score are well-presented. Included with this release are removable English subtitles for the Italian language track.

Extras:

Extras for this release include a theatrical trailer (2 minutes 16 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), Italian opening and closing titles (3 minutes 33 seconds, Dolby Digital mono), an interview with director Lamberto Bava titled Don’t Lose Your Head (22 minutes 4 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an audio commentary with an audio commentary with film historians Nathaniel Thompson and Troy Howarth, reversible cover art, a slipcover (limited to first pressing), and a twelve page booklet (limited to first pressing) with an essay titled Familial Trauma in Lamberto Bava’s Macabre written by Rachael Nisbet.

Summary:

Though Lamberto Bava has forged a four-decade career as a director, most of his contemporaries have stopped making films. There’s no denying that it must have been difficult living in the shadow of his father, Mario Bava, Italian cinema’s most celebrated director of horror cinema. Looking over Lamberto Bava’s filmography, there are a few standout films that have held up well over time. His best films are the result of collaborations with other prominent Italian filmmakers. Case in point: Macabre, a film that is unlike any other film in Lamberto Bava’s filmography.

That said, how much of Macabre is due to Lamberto Bava or filmmaker Pupi Avati's creative influence? The idea for Macabre originated with Antonio Avati and Pupi Avati, who then reached out to Lamberto Bava with the idea of directing it. Besides coming up with the idea, there are many elements throughout Macabre that bear a strong resemblance to Pupi Avati’s The House of the Laughing Windows, which ultimately furthers the premise that Lamberto Bava was a director for fire whose contributions to the film were minimal.

Content-wise, there are many elements in Macabre that are widely associated with horror cinema. To simply approach Macabre as a horror film would be doing this film a great disservice, since the result is something that is closer to a psychological melodrama.

And though Macabre has an ample amount of visually tense moments, Outside of a few moments, like the scene where the protagonist’s lover's head gets decapitated and he drowns children in a bathtub, Macabre’s level of carnage is minimal. Fortunately, Macabre is a film that relies heavily on atmosphere.

When discussing a film like Macabre, one must not overlook the elephant in the room. At the heart of Macabre’s narrative is a deranged love story that involves necrophilia. The protagonist, a woman named Jane Baker, procures her deceased lover's severed head and keeps it in a freezer. Though some of the shock derived from this plot device remains, it’s rather tame when compared to other similar-themed films that succeeded it, like Nekromantik.

Macabre’s heart and soul are Bernice Stegers’ (Xtro) portrayal of Jane Baker. She delivers an utterly convincing portrayal of a character who’s consumed by obsessive love. Other performances of note are Stanko Molnar in the role of a blind man who runs a boarding house and Veronica Zinny’s (in her one and only role) terrifying portrayal of Jane’s equally demented daughter Lucy. Ultimately, Macabre is an exceptional debut film that set the bar so high that Lamberto Bava never made a better film.

Macabre gets an excellent release from 88 Films that comes with a solid audio/video presentation and a pair of informative extras, highly recommended.








Written by Michael Den Boer

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