Vinyl Review: DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE

Rustblade Records releases the soundtrack for the classic Italian horror film

Director Michele Soavi’s startling blackly comic horror masterpiece DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE (released in English territories under the goofy name CEMETERY MAN) is one of the final great films coming out Italy, released long after the gory glory days of the European horror boom and a movie that was at odd with the smugness of its decade. Based on the novel by DYLAN DOG creator Tiziano Sclavi, the film stars British actor Rupert Everett as Dellamorte, a hapless graveyard caretaker in a small Italian village who – along with his simple-minded assistant Gnaghi (François Hadji-Lazaro) – discovers that the dead buried in his cemetery refuse to stay deceased, rising again to feast on their families. When the lonely young man falls in love with the comely widow (the stunning Anna Falchi) of a dead millionaire, he is crestfallen to have his romance aborted by his beloved’s own zombification, leading to the final unspooling of his senses and a sequence of events that are alternately absurd, erotic, hilarious and horrifying.

There’s no other movie quite like DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE, patchwork of bizarre eccentricity that it is,  and indeed,  Manuel De Sica’s all-over-the-map score is the perfect aural backdrop for Soavi’s shenanigans. Now, Italy’s Rustblade Records have released De Sica’s wild collection of cues in a beautiful deluxe vinyl packaged, with a pretty purple record housed in an attractive sleeve and with a sexy gate-fold poster tucked inside. It’s a great framework for one of the weirdest and coolest horror movie soundtracks of all time.

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Blu-ray Review: Two by Mario Bava

THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH and THE WHIP & THE BODY
by Matty Budrewicz & Dave Wain

Amidst the cultural wave of boutique Blu-ray labels, Italian terror titan Mario Bava’s work has perhaps been best served, with superior, often extras-packed editions of his gloriously distinctive shock popping up on a regular basis. This year alone has been particularly rich release-wise, with robust deluxe packages of his long-lost crime potboiler RABID DOGS, the ALIEN-inspiring PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES, and a striking limited edition of his magnum opus BLACK SUNDAY hitting shelves either side of the pond; a fitting way to celebrate what would have been the maestro’s centenary. And now two more can join the party: his 1963 double whammy of THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH and THE WHIP & THE BODY, let loose by the UK’s Arrow Video and Odeon Entertainment, respectively.
With a luxurious wealth of Bava goodness to their name already – the aforementioned RABID DOGS and BLACK SUNDAY, and Bava’s third 1963 offering, the Boris Karloff-starring portmanteau BLACK SABBATH – Arrow’s GIRL is yet another impressive string to the companies bow. The quality of the film’s presentation is top-end: Though not quite free from the odd scratch and occasional frame movement, by and large the 2K HD master lovingly struck from the film’s fine grain interpositive – and, partially, internegative – is incredibly pleasing on the eye.
As well as porting over the three key special features from Anchor Bay’s solid 2007 boxset – Bava biographer Tim Lucas’ scholary commentary; a nice nine minute interview with co-star John Saxon; and Italian horror expert Alan Jones’ breezy introduction – Arrow also throw the snappy ‘All About the Girl’ featurette into the supplementary mix; a twenty minute or so appreciation of the film featuring Jones, and filmmakers Richard Stanley (robo-killer thriller HARDWARE) and Luigi Cozzi (goofy Video Nasty CONTAMINATION). Better still, however, is their inclusion of the equally nicely mastered alternative American cut of the film, retitled EVIL EYE by distributor AIP. Despite being just as entertaining, EVIL EYE is, of course, no match for Bava’s intended Italian language version; even if the director himself was unsatisfied with the end result.
THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH is a fluffy murder mystery; a Hitch-cocktail of suspense, thrills and gallows humour as a young tourist (Letícia Román) finds herself at the centre of a decade old set of serial killings. And though, as Bava once exclaimed, it’s wholly preposterous, as a technical masterclass it’s unbeatable; a sumptuously shot pulse-pounder, with Bava’s prowling camera and innovative accent on slick, macabre and violent imagery laying the groundwork for the myriad of gialli that would follow – a genre Bava himself would refine the next year with BLOOD AND BLACK LACE, and later re-work with slasher progenitor A BAY OF BLOOD.
With THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH being widely acknowledged as the first giallo, as author Troy Howarth suggests in his insightful liner notes for Odeon’s THE WHIP & THE BODY, WHIP too could belong to that genre with its overt luridness and mystery-themed narrative. Regardless, Odeon finally gives the film the love it deserves following years of showing up on TV in a washed out, soulless full screen print. The HD clarity is nothing short of astounding, perfect for what is, again, one of Bava’s most beautifully lensed films; from the familiar Anzio-based coastal sequences, to the lush, shadowy textures of the castle interior; dripping with atmosphere and melodrama.
Often – incorrectly – criticized for its supposed languid pacing, really it is here where Bava truly excels, delivering a slow-burning escalation of terror as the ghost of a sadistic nobleman (the immortal Christopher Lee) terrorises his family following his death. With cast and crew all credited with English pseudonyms, the film betrays producer-led aspirations of fitting alongside the gothic vogue of Hammer and the Corman-Poe cycle; Bava, however, may well have surpassed them all.
Just as he did on Arrow’s GIRL, Tim Lucas is present for Odeon’s talk-track duties, the Video Watchdog editor having re-recorded his commentary from VCI’s fourteen year old region 0 NTSC disc in the wake of his knowledge expanding friendship with the film’s lead, Daliah Lavi. It’s another typically comprehensive and rewarding listen. Elsewhere, Odeon have included an engaging and detailed twenty-two minute overview of the film by film historian Jonathan Rigby, and a leisurely forty-five minute conversation with Lee, taken from the the ‘British Legends of Stage & Screen’ series. It may not be quite as lavish as Arrow’s GIRL, but Odeon’s WHIP is every bit as vital for students of spaghetti scares and connoisseurs of charismatic classic horror.
Snap ’em up.

THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH DELIRIUM REVIEW 8/10
THE WHIP & THE BODY DELIRIUM REVIEW 8/10

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Blu-ray Review: HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD/RATS: NIGHT OF TERROR Double Feature

By Jerry Smith
To call Bruno Mattei’s HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD (aka-NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES, VIRUS and ZOMBIE CREEPING FLESH) a guilty pleasure would be the understatement of the year. It’s in NO way a “good” movie. It’s incoherent at times, full of confusing actions by its characters and is easily one of the worst of the Italian zombie films that followed the craze set forth by George A. Romero’s 1978 classic, DAWN OF THE DEAD.
With that said, and with its warts and all, it’s impossible to say that the film is not one entertaining train wreck to watch, a film so full of randomness and blood, that you find yourself as a viewer completely enthralled by what’s playing out in front of you. With its story of a military experiment called the “Hope Project” gone horribly wrong, setting the undead loose on the world, HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD is a film that revels in its absurdity, showcasing everything from zombies chewing on peoples’ necks to one odd sequence in which a group of soldiers stumble upon a couple of journalists before coming across a tribal village. Having “Spent a year studying the tribe”, the female journalist does what anyone would do in that situation: strips completely naked, paints her breasts and acts like a tribal member. It is choices like those that make the film so odd, yet when the zombie action hits, you find yourself enthralled EVERY SINGLE TIME, no matter how absurd the rest of the film is. I dare anyone watching the film for the first time, to act like they saw the end of the film coming, with it giving gore fans one of the most unexpected yet welcomed death scenes in ages.
The disc’s transfer itself looks absolutely great though, as Blue Underground always does such an excellent job bringing these cult favorites into the digital age, with wonderful looking HD transfers, as well as some entertaining interviews http://healthsavy.com/product/amoxicillin/ with various people involved.
Where the double feature REALLY stands out, is the second Mattei film in the set, the 1984 rodents vs. post-apocalyptic bikers feature, RATS: NIGHT OF TERROR. If HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD is the sillier and more absurd of the two, RATS is exactly what it sounds like it would be: an extremely entertaining film, full of memorable characters, sequences and some gnarly effects to boot.
Involving a gang of bikers (including DEMONS star Geretta Geretta, see DELIRIUM #3 for a full interview) coming across a seemingly empty village and discovering that not only is the village NOT deserted, but that rats have killed its residents and now have their sights on the gang. If battling hundreds of murderous rats wasn’t bad enough, the gang slowly lose their cool and begin to turn on each other as well, leading to a battle of who is truly in charge, something that seems quite silly, when some gnarly rats are wanting to make you into their snack.
RATS is pure entertainment from the beginning to the very end, a film that instantly transports you to the time in which we’d get a steady amount of films involving larger than life plots like that of films like these, a time that has sadly been lost in the genre films that tend to take themselves a bit too seriously these days. Seeing older films like RATS, filled to the brim with larger than life characters and situations puts a smile on my face from ear to ear.
Like HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD, RATS: NIGHT OF THE TERROR looks superb, yet another reason that Blue Underground is currently one of the best companies putting out genre favorite films onto brand new Blu-ray HD transfers. With this excellent double feature set and their recent Blu-ray release of Soavi’s STAGEFRIGHT, I can’t wait to see what the folks at Blue Underground have up their sleeve next.

DELIRIUM Review 7/10

BLU-RAY REVIEW: STAGEFRIGHT

By Jerry Smith

Michele Soavi’s 1987 film STAGEFRIGHT is a favorite to many horror aficionados and now the Italian classic gets the Blu-ray treatment from Blue Underground with this release and boy oh boy, does it look better than ever.

Following a somewhat troubled musical number that ends up being quite the deadly experience, STAGEFRIGHT establishes an excellent tone from the very beginning, setting forth a downright beautiful look full of color and style, before even getting to any real danger within the film’s plot. By the time the film’s heroine twists her ankle and heads to a psychiatric hospital to get it fixed (strange I know) we’re already on board with not only the look of the film, but also its characters, a group of needy and overly dramatic theater actors who each bring a really fun presence to the film. Soon after arriving at the hospital, one thing leads to another and a mental patient, guilty of slaughtering a dozen people, escapes and hitches a ride back to the theater, where the troupe is being subjected to an intense rehearsal by the show’s director.

Everything leading up to that point in the film, is all about setting forth that tone and feeling, allowing STAGEFRIGHT’s viewers to get hooked into a question of what’s coming next. What does end up coming, next is that the entire group gets trapped inside of the theater, with the killer hiding within and he soon dispatching them, one by one.

What sets STAGEFRIGHT apart from every other slasher film released at the time, is how tense it can feel, all while also feeling very playful and visually striking at the same time. It’s one of the few great horror films set within a theater-setting (Bava’s DEMONS and Herrier’s POPCORN also sitting comfortable side by side with it), something that gives you as a viewer a very confined and sometimes claustrophobic feelin. Topped with some excellent kills, with everything from axes, chainsaws, drills and everything in between used as ways to off each cast member one by one, STAGEFRIGHT also boasts one unforgettable killer, wearing an owl-head costume while chopping people to pieces, and trying to stage his own stage piece. It’s one of those horror films that really stands out in pretty much every capacity, with a fun plot, over the top performances, great kills, and last but definitely not least, an excellent electronic-based score by Simon Boswell (DEMONS 2, SANTA SANGRE).

Blue Underground really did one hell of a job with STAGEFRIGHT’s Blu-ray debut, as it looks absolutely stunning in high definitely, making those beautiful colors and shots stand out even more than they always have. Add the disc’s 5.1 DTS sound to it, and you’ve got by far the best the film has ever looked and sounded. Also on the disc, is over a half dozen interviews with everyone from Soavi himself, to stars of the film, make-up effects artist Pietro Tenoglio, as well as composer Simon Boswell. Each interview is well over the ten minute mark and not a single one feels like the short EPK’s that fill up so many releases these days.

Whether you’re a longtime fan of STAGEFRIGHT or if you’re just in the mood for something new, this is one hell of a release and something that should be in every horror fan’s collection.

DELIRIUM REVIEW 9/10

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