Posts Tagged ‘Suspiria’

Blu-ray Cover - June 20

Distributor: Arrow Video

Release Date: June 20, 2017

Region: Regions A and B

Length: 01:36:44

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio: Italian Mono Linear PCM Audio

Alternate Audio: English Mono Linear PCM Audio

Subtitles: English SDH, English

Ratio: 2.35:1

Bitrate: 34.69 Mbps

Note: This package includes a DVD edition of the film.

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In 1970, young first-time director Dario Argento (Suspiria, Deep Red) made his indelible mark on Italian cinema with The Bird with the Crystal Plumage—a film which redefined the giallo genre of murder-mystery thrillers and catapulted him to international stardom. To be honest, the film’s plot doesn’t really distinguish itself from other giallo films.

Sam Dalmas (Tony Musante), an American writer living in Rome, inadvertently witnesses a brutal attack on a woman (Eva Renzi) in a modern art gallery. Powerless to help, he grows increasingly obsessed with the incident. Convinced that something he saw that night holds the key to identifying the maniac terrorizing Rome, he launches his own investigation parallel to that of the police, heedless of the danger to both himself and his girlfriend Giulia (Suzy Kendall).

The most fascinating aspect of the film is Argento’s confident direction. It is truly a remarkably assured debut effort that is aided by Vittorio Storaro’s masterful cinematography and an interesting score by Ennio Morricone. It is essential viewing for fans of both the director and stands with the director’s best work.

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The Presentation:

5 of 5 Stars

This is the epitome of wonderful packaging. It is probably impossible to do it justice here, but it should at least be said that this is one of Arrow’s more distinguished packages. Three items are held in a very sturdy box featuring artwork by Candice Tripp with title work completed by Matt Griffin. This is the same artist who graced Arrow with their extraordinary artwork for Donnie Darko earlier this year (among others)—and we wouldn’t complain if they were to work exclusively with this artist.

The three items contained in this box are as follows: The Arrow Blu-ray disc, a collector’s booklet, and a reversible foldout poster featuring both the original American one sheet design and the new Candice Tripp painting.

Limited Edition

The Blu-ray disc is housed in a sturdy clear Blu-ray case with a reversible sleeve that allows fans to showcase either the aforementioned artwork or the film’s original Italian one-sheet. It is nice that Arrow has also offered fans the opportunity to utilize the film’s original one-sheet design, but we feel that most fans will agree that the new art is vastly superior to the original (which rarely happens). However, this is a matter of taste and there is little doubt that some will prefer the alternative. In addition to the Blu-ray disc, the case houses six postcards featuring the artwork for six of the film’s original lobby cards that helped to market the film upon its original release.

The collector’s booklet includes three great essays, including “The Bird with the Crystal Plumage: An Appreciation” by Michael Mackenzie, “Rogues’ Gallery: Portraits of Fear” by Howard Hughes, and “Sacrificial Knives and Cultic Objects: Reflections of the Screaming Mind in Dario Argento’s ‘The Bird with the Crystal Plumage’” by Jack Seabrook. The book is illustrated with new artwork by Matthew Griffin and contains a number of production stills that add significantly to the aesthetic presentation. The essays themselves are quite worthwhile and add to one’s appreciation of the film and its place in film history.

Menu

The disc’s animated menu utilizes footage from the film and is easy to navigate. Everything about this release is remarkable, and Arrow should be commended for their efforts.

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Picture Quality:

4.5 of 5 Stars

Arrow has graced the disc with a 4K restoration transfer presented in the film’s original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. This is a film that has seen a number of home video transfers, and none of the previous transfers have come close to the quality of this new restoration. Vittorio Storaro’s cinematography finally comes across with some degree of accuracy in this release as colors seem accurately rendered with attractive saturation levels and natural flesh tones (for the most part). Contrast levels also seems to reflect the original production photography and showcases rich black levels without crushing shadow detail. There is an organic layer of grain that textures the image without sacrificing any of fine detail inherent in the photography.

The disc’s maxed out bitrate ensures that unsightly compression artifacts are never an issue, and the unsightly DNR that graces a number of the other releases does not mar the experience of watching this transfer. Film damage is at times evident, but this is never problematic or distracting for the viewer.

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Sound Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

We are happy to report that the disc includes solid Linear PCM audio transfers of both the original Italian mono mix and the English language mono mix. Some might lament the inclusion of an artificially produced quasi-5.1stream, but these rarely live up to their hype. These faithful mono reproductions are more than acceptable. Any flaws inherent in these tracks are the product of the original production methods and shouldn’t bother viewers who are well versed in the genre.

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Special Features:

4 of 5 Stars

Feature Length Audio Commentary by Troy Howarth

Troy Howarth is the author of a number of books (including So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films – Volumes 1 & 2, The Haunted World of Mario Bava, Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films, and Real Depravities: The Films of Klaus Kinski). A mere look at the titles of these books make it clear that he is a devotee of the giallo and horror genres, and his enthusiasm is evident throughout the duration of his commentary track. His general knowledge about this subject serves the track rather well, although it never approaches the quality one gains from an actual filmmaker’s commentary. One laments that Dario Argento himself didn’t participate in this discussion.

However, listeners are given a wealth of pertinent information here as Howarth’s encyclopedic knowledge of interesting trivia elevates the track above the level of most third party commentaries. It really does add an enormous amount of value to the disc.

Crystal Nightmare – (31:24)

Arrow Video wisely includes this interview with Dario Argento himself, and it is one of this disc’s most interesting supplemental features. The director discusses the film in a general way and delves into such topics as the inspiration for the film’s premise, the screenplay, the financing, and information about the film’s production and eventual release. His manner is rather straightforward and relatively unpretentious throughout his discussion, and his anecdotal recollections are especially fascinating. One doesn’t even have to be a fan of the director to find this program fascinating.

An Argento Icon – (22:05)

This better than average interview with Gildo Di Marco covers more territory than its somewhat brief duration might imply. The actor talks about his life as an actor and even delves into more personal territory. Frankly, the events of his life are really more interesting than one might imagine. His work with Argento is also covered in some detail.

Eva’s Talking – (11:19)

Eva Renzi’s interview is a bit older and the video quality isn’t as good as one might hope. However, the actress is frankly honest about her less than positive feelings about the film and the effect that it had on her career and this results in a unique and interesting experience for the viewer.

The Power of Perception – (20:57)

Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (author of Devil’s Advocates: Suspiria, Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study, and Found Footage Horror Films: Fear and the Appearance of Reality) provides this genuinely instructive visual essay about the film’s themes and the role that art plays in Dario Argento’s cinema. This scholarly examination is insightful and should add to one’s appreciation of this film as well as the director’s other work.

Black Gloves and Screaming Mimis – (34:54)

Kat Ellinger gives another somewhat scholarly examination of the film that fans should enjoy. Ellinger examines the film’s origins and the Frederic Brown novel: ‘The Screaming Mimi’ and in the process manages to reframe the viewer’s contextual perspective. Comparisons to the novel are extremely rare, and this fills an obvious need. It is somewhat dry, but most will agree that it is a worthy addition to an already extraordinary disc.

Italian Theatrical Trailer – (03:11)

International Theatrical Trailer – (02:48)

Arrow’s 2017 Texas Frightmare Promo – (00:56)

It is nice to find that the original Italian and International trailers have been included here as they provide a glimpse at the marketing campaign. The Frightmare Promo is less essential—but probably even more fun than the original trailers.

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Final Words:

Dario Argento’s debut effort is certain to please fans of the giallo genre and the director’s later work, and Arrow Video’s Limited Edition Blu-ray package is gorgeous! The 4K restoration transfer more than makes up for the deficiencies in their earlier release and more than warrants an upgrade. Frankly, this is the only release of the film that is even worth watching.

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