The Whip and the Body: Deluxe Collector's Edition – 88 Films (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: March 27th, 2023
Approximate running time: 86 Minutes 51 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono Italian, LPCM Mono English
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £24.99 (UK)
"Kurt Menliff, the black sheep of his family, was banished for his wicked, wicked ways. But now he's home and keen to resume his sadomasochistic affair with his brother's wife, Nevenka. So keen, in fact, that not even his untimely death can put a stop to his violent lust." - synopsis provided by the distributor
Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "New 4K Scan and 2K Restoration from archive print materials."
The Whip and the Body comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.
Disc Size: 38.4 GB
88 Films Feature: 25.4 GB
Kino Lorber Feature: 27.1 GB
The Whip and the Body is a film that never caught a break when it came to home video. To date, I have owned VCI Entertainment’s DVD release, EMS's German DVD release, Kino Lorber’s Blu-ray release, and now this Blu-ray release from 88 Films. That said, all releases to date have had their issues.
That brings me to The Whip and the Body’s latest release from 88 Films. Though the original negative appears to be gone, 88 Films has done a great job with the best archive materials that remain. The source is in excellent shape; there are no source-related imperfections, and there is a healthy layer of grain; the image always looks organic. That said, the biggest difference between Kino Lorber’s Blu-ray and 88 Films Blu-ray is how 88 Films corrects some day for night shots, and they also get rid of the blue tint that is prominent throughout Kino Lorber’s Blu-ray.
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 sound clean, clear, and balanced. Also, range-wise ambient sounds are well-represented, and the score sounds robust. That said, the Italian language track sounds slightly fuller than the English language track. Included are removable English subtitles for the Italian language track.
Extras for this release include reversible cover art, French theatrical trailer (3 minutes 34 seconds, LPCM mono French, no subtitles), Italian theatrical trailer (3 minutes 34 seconds, LPCM mono Italian with removable English subtitles), German theatrical trailer (3 minutes 35 seconds, LPCM mono German, no subtitles), an interview with screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi titled Whipping the Body (24 minutes 31 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with assistant director Sergio Martino titled Working with Bava (24 minutes 31 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an interview with Lamberto Bava titled The Gothic and the Fantastic (25 minutes 45 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Italian with removable English subtitles), an audio commentary with Italian cinema experts Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson, an audio commentary with film critics Kim Newman and Sean Hogan, A3 fold-out poster, and a forty-page booklet with an essay titled Nevenka’s Guilty Pleasures written by Marta Oliehoek-Samitowska, an essay titled The Colors of Sadism: Mind, Sex and Violence in Mario Bava’s The Whip and the Body written by Francesco Massaccesi, and an essay titled Scenographies & Sadomasochism written by Rachael Nisbet.
Extras on the Kino Lorber release include a theatrical trailer (3 minutes 28 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), an audio commentary with Tim Lucas, author of Mario Bava – All the Colors of the Dark, and 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 an excellent release from 88 Films that comes with a solid audio/video presentation and a wealth of insightful extras, highly recommended.
Note: Limited edition - 3000 Units Only.
Written by Michael Den Boer