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Mill Of The Stone Women (Arrow Video) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Mill Of The Stone Women (Arrow Video) Blu-ray Review



    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: December 7th, 2021.
    Director: Giorgio Ferroni
    Cast: Pierre Brice, Scilla Gabel, Wolfgang Preiss, Robert Boehme, Danny Carrel, Liana Orfei, Olga Solbelli
    Year: 1960
    Purchase From Amazon

    Mill Of The Stone Women - Movie Review:

    Those who enjoy the unique visual slant that Italian cinema has lent to gothic horror films will find much to love about Giorgio Ferroni's Mill Of The Stone Women, an Italian/French co-production from 1960 featuring a great international cast.

    The story follows a man named Hans (Pierce Brice of Max Pecas' Sweet Violence) as he arrives in a small town near Amsterdam in hopes of catching up with a reclusive sculptor named Professor Wahl (Robert Boehme). It seems Hans is a writer and has been sent to the creaky old windmill in which Wahl lives in order to get his help on an article he is to be writing. The locals vocally refer to Wahl's abode as 'The Mill of the Stone Women', hence the film's title, but Hans pays the local folklore no mind and proceeds on his merry way.

    After he's been staying there a short time, Hans makes the acquaintance of Elfi Wahl (Scilla Gabel), the professor's drop dead gorgeous daughter. She's a seductive lass and she turns on her charm pretty thick when she sees him wandering around. Being only human, he starts falling for her despite his proclaimed love for Liselotte (Dany Carrel), who he has had a long relationship with.

    As he investigates the windmill and its inhabitants a little bit more intensely, Hans quickly clues into the fact that Wahl and his evil associate, Dr. Boles (Wolfgang Preiss, best known from the Dr. Mabuse films), are conducting sinister experiments on some of the local women. Hans intends to find out why they are doing this and what Elfi has to do with it all before it's too late.

    Wow. What an absolutely gorgeous looking film Mill Of The Stone Women is. From the sets to the lighting to the cinematography and camera movements to the color schemes, it all very much looks like a painting set to life, particularly when viewed in high definition. Obviously much care and love was put into capturing the right mood through the use of creepy old mannequins and gothic crosses scattered about the old wooden windmill. The shadows are used to great effect as well, with some of them almost looking alive in a few scenes.

    Performances are solid as well, with Scilla Gabel having the most captivating look out of the cast - she's stunning to look at with her big expressive eyes and porcelain doll skin - perfect for the part of the beautiful girl with a dark secret. While the story itself isn't exactly the most original (a lot of the ideas here are also seen in other movies of the same subgenre) Mill Of The Stone Women does have its share of creepy moments and proves to be quite entertaining regardless thanks for the skilled direction and wonderful sets.

    Arrow Video's two disc release of the film includes, on the first disc, the Italian version (which runs 95:36) and the English export version (which runs 95:37). Disc two includes the French version (which runs 89:51) and the U.S. version (which runs 94:29).

    Mill Of The Stone Women - Blu-ray Review:

    Arrow Video brings all four versions of Mill Of The Stone Women to Blu-ray in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.66.1 widescreen. The Italian and English export versions on disc one share the same beautiful 2k restoration, taken from the original 35mm negative, using seamless branching to allow viewers to check out each cut. They look great, boasting rich, vibrant colors, deep blacks and perfect skin tones. The expected amount of natural film grain is present, as you'd hope, but outside of a few small white specks here and there the image is almost completely devoid of actual print damage. The strong encoding keeps compression artifacts out of the picture and there are no noticeable issues at all with any edge enhancement or noise reduction, it all looks very film-like from start to finish.

    The French version included on disc two looks noticeably rougher during the opening credits sequence but once we get past that part it appears to use the same restoration and looks just as nice as the two versions on disc one. The U.S. version is similar, though the opening credits are a bit cleaner than they are on the French cut.

    Audio options are offered in 24-bit LPCM mono Italian and English options on the first disc, with newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack and optional English SDH included for the English track. On Disc two, we get 24-bit LPCM mono French and English options for the French and U.S. cuts. Both tracks sound clean, clear and nicely balanced, no issues here, and the score in particular really benefits from the lossless treatment. The English version on the U.S. cut is not the same as the one included on the export version, it's much goofier and not at all superior, but it's interesting to have it included here as it includes some narration not featured on the other English track. Again, we get English subtitles for the French track and English SDH for the U.S. version (“Trouble began with a woman”!).

    Extras on the first disc include a new audio commentary by Tim Lucas, author of Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark, which plays over the English export version of the movie. He starts by talking about the debt that the film owes to Dryer's Vampyre made many years before. He goes over plenty of details of Ferroni's life and works and offers loads of information on the different cast and crew members that contributed to the picture, shares his own experiences seeing the film for the first time, goes through the different themes that the film deals with, films such as The Cabinet Of Caligari and Waxworks that clearly influenced this picture, some of the symbolism that is worked into the visuals, the use of LSD in the art world and plenty more. In typical Tim Lucas style, it's extremely well-researched and quite informative.

    Mill Of The Stone Women & The Gothic Body is a 'new visual essay on the trope of the wax/statue woman in Gothic horror' by author and critic Kat Ellinger that clocks in at twenty-four minutes. Here she explores how 'the death of a beautiful woman' affects gothic horror from Poe to the present with an emphasis on how it is used in Mill Of The Stone Women. She goes over some of the traditions and art that likely inspired how it is used in this picture, the Freudian elements worked into all of this, the strength of the visuals in the picture, the history of wax models and its use in embalming and death rituals, Victorian funeral adornments and death photography, how these elements are explored in other gothic pictures and more. It's quite in-depth and well-researched.

    Turned To Stone is a newly edited featurette containing archival interviews with actress Liana Orfei and film historian Fabio Melelli that runs for twenty-seven minutes. She talks about how she got into movies in the first place after working in a circus, working with Fellini and achieving instant fame because of it and how her career took off from there. She talks about some of the other directors that she worked with over the years, doing her first horror film with Mill Of The Stone Women, the shooting order of different scenes, working with Ferroni, her acting style and lack of professional training, shooting some of the key scenes in the movie, seeing herself for the first time in statue form and quite a bit more. Melelli goes over the history of Mill Of The Stone Women and its director, discussing the themes, the locations and the cast and crew that worked on the picture. He also talks about the importance of the use of color and the compositions in the picture, the set design as well as Ferroni's career and his influences.

    A Little Chat with Dr. Mabuse, an archival interview with actor Wolfgang Preiss, runs for fifteen minutes. He covers some of the directors that he worked with, like Otto Preminger, Fritz Lang and John Frankenheimer, some of the other actors and actresses that he worked with over the years, his thoughts on playing the Mabuse character and having to wear different masks for the part, his fondness for his role in The Train, working with Lino Ventura and having to do scenes in French and Italian, working with Klaus Kinski. This may not go into any specifics about Mill Of The Stone Women but Preiss is quite a character and a lot of fun to watch here.

    Finishing up the extras on disc one are the opening titles from the UK release which was re-titled Drops Of Blood, the German opening titles, U.S. and German theatrical trailers, four separate still galleries, menus and chapter selection options.

    Disc two contains the alternate French and U.S. versions as noted, but no other extra features.

    As Arrow has only sent test discs for review, we can't comment on any packaging, inserts or booklets that might be included with this release but should finished product be made available we'll gladly update this review to include that information.

    Mill Of The Stone Women - The Final Word:

    Arrow has done an excellent job with their release of Mill Of The Stone Women, presenting the picture in four different versions, each looking and sounding far better than it ever has on disc in North America before. The set also features some great extra features that will certainly add to your appreciation of the movie. As to the film itself, it's truly a classic slice of Italian gothic horror and a worthy addition to the home video library of any fan of classic horror.

    Click on the images below for full sized The Mill Of The Stone Women Blu-ray screen caps!






























    • Jason C
      #1
      Jason C
      Senior Member
      Jason C commented
      Editing a comment
      Which is the preferred version for first tie viewing?

    • Ian Jane
      #2
      Ian Jane
      Administrator
      Ian Jane commented
      Editing a comment
      You can't go wrong with any of them and many of the differences are subtle, but I'd say either the Italian or English versions on the first disc.
    Posting comments is disabled.

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