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Spirits Of Death (Un Bianco Vestito Per Mariale)

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    Ian Jane
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  • Spirits Of Death (Un Bianco Vestito Per Mariale)



    Released by: Camera Obscura
    Released on: June 2013.
    Director: Romano Scavolini
    Cast: Ivan Rassimov, Luigi Pistilli, Ida Galli, Pilar Velazquez, Ezio Marano
    Year: 1972
    Purchase From Diabolik DVD

    The Movie:

    From Romano Scavolini, the director of the notorious Nightmare comes this gothic tinged giallo from 1972, Spirits Of Death. The story begins with an interesting scene in which a young woman sees her father shoot down her mother (Ida Galli, credited on screen as Evelyn Stewart) in the chest with a shotgun. He also shoots down the man she has been having an affair with, and then kills himself. Eventually the young girl, Mariale, grows into a young lady (again played by Galli) but not so surprisingly she's got some issues. She's married to Paolo (Luigi Pistilli), a rather cold man who keeps her drugged in stately home.

    Despite all of her problems, Mariale decides to invite some friends over for a party one night. The guests arrive and see her decked out in the same white gown her mother was wearing on the day that she was murdered. Complicating matters is the presence of Massimo (Ivan Rassimov), who obviously has a thing for Mariale, much to the dismay of her rather jealous husband. The party quickly becomes decadent, and eventually, the guests are killed off one by one…

    Not the fastest paced giallo ever made, Spirits Of Death takes a little while to get going but more than makes up for a slow first half with a bizarre second half filled with a few gruesome murders, wild gothic ambiance and even a little bit of kinky interracial lesbianism for good measure. Shot with a keen eye of weird compositions and showcasing some excellent use of odd color, this is a fantastic looking film. The compositions are effective in creating some memorably strange set pieces and they really maximize the atmosphere afforded the film by the old castle location in which all of this plays out.

    Ida Galli is a decent female lead here, portraying her character as sufficiently 'out there' to make the part work even when the script sometimes goes off in completely illogical directions. Pistilli and Rassimov are the real scene stealers here, however, as both get the chance to play the type of scuzzy, diabolical characters that they excel at. Rassimov in particular really gets into his role and coming dangerously close to going over the top without ever actually doing it.

    Thematically the movie feels like a mix of Fellini and Bava, blending some moderately surreal imagery and decadence with some giallo trappings in a singular location in the style of Bay Of Blood. Scavolini takes things in much more unusual directions than Bava's giallo films, however, using the interesting score from Fiorenzo Carpi and Bruno Nicolai to help pull us in before hitting us with the suitably and somehow inevitably grim finale. It's ultimately an undeniable exercise in style over substance but it's done well and quite a unique entry in the giallo canon.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Camera Obscura's 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer looks just about as good as a standard definition presentation can. Colors are beautiful, reproduced naturally without any evidence of boosting and with plenty of striking reds that don't bleed over and strong black levels. Shadow detail is good, the image is nearly pristine and there are no issues with print damage. Skin tones look lifelike and natural and sharpness and contrast look great as well. This is just a really impressive picture all around.

    The Italian language Dolby Digital Mono track, the only one on the disc, comes with optional subtitles in German and English and it sounds just fine. Dialogue is clear and properly balanced and the impressive score has impressive clarity. There are no issues with hiss or distortion, the mix is clean and concise.

    Extras kick off with a commentary track from Christian KeBler and Marcus Stiglegger who provide a fairly scene-specific talk about the picture providing a wealth of information on the movie and the people who made it. The commentators obviously put some thought into this talk as they go into quite a bit of depth about the themes that run through this picture and some of the director's other efforts and offer up a lot of interesting trivia about the movie. It's a well-paced and interesting listen, and although they speak in German, optional English subtitles are provided.

    The main extra on the disc, however, is a thirty-seven minute interview with Romano Scavolini entitled Esoteric And Cryptic. Here the director talks about his film career, giving us an interesting overview of his work, and then detailing some interesting stories about Spirits Of Death and the cast and crew he collaborated with on this feature. Aside from that we get five minutes of deleted scenes (no audio exists) that are interesting to see, two trailers for the feature, and a pretty sizeable still gallery. Animated menus are provided in English and in German and inside the keepcase is a color booklet of liner notes, also in English and German, which present some nice background information on the movie as well as some welcome critical analysis.

    The Final Word:

    Camera Obscura have once again given an obscure cult film the deluxe treatment with their release of Scavolini's wonderfully bizarre Spirits Of Death. The transfer and the supplements are top notch and while the movie itself might take a little while to hit its stride, it proves to be stylish, entertaining and weird.
































    • Andrew Monroe
      #1
      Andrew Monroe
      Pallid Hands
      Andrew Monroe commented
      Editing a comment
      My copy is on the way. Looking forward to giving this another chance. I don't hate it but it's not a particular favorite. Love the score though. That Scavolini interview is almost as purchase worthy as the feature for me, can't wait to see it. Well done on the review - you gave me some food for thought to keep in mind when I watch it again.

    • bgart13
      #2
      bgart13
      Senior Member
      bgart13 commented
      Editing a comment
      I'd like to get this, but there's no way I'm spending the cash on it. I'll have to wait for a US release. Or a more affordable option from somewhere.
    Posting comments is disabled.

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