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Nothing Underneath/Too Beautiful To Die (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Nothing Underneath/Too Beautiful To Die (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review



    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: October 26th, 2021.
    Director: Carlo Vanzina/Dario Piana
    Cast: Tom Schanley, Renée Simonsen, Nicola Perring, Donald Pleasence, Franí§ois-Eric Gendron, Florence Guérin, Randi Ingerman, Giovanni Tamberi
    Year: 1985/1988
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    Nothing Underneath/Too Beautiful To Die - Movie Review:

    Vinegar Syndrome offers up a double dose of late eighties Italian thriller weirdness with their release of Nothing Underneath and Too Beautiful To Die!

    Nothing Underneath:

    The first film, based on a novel be Marco Parma and directed by Carlo Vanzina and released in 1985, Nothing Underneath is set in Milan, Italy where a beautiful woman named Jessica Crane (Nicola Perring) lives the fancy life of a high fashion model. Her twin brother, a Forest Ranger that works at Yellowstone National Park (!) named Bob Crane (Tom Schanley), has a psychic connection to her of sorts, and when he gets the sense that she's been hurt or possibly even killed, he travels to Milan to try and find her and ensure that she's okay. When he arrives, he can find neither hide nor hair of his curvaceous sibling, which is obviously cause for concern.

    To help track Jessica down, Bob brings on an aging cop named Commissioner Danesi (Donald Pleasence). As they dig deeper into Jessica's disappearance, his doubts about Bob's psychic abilities are soon put to rest while Bob himself finds himself becoming more and more intrigued by a model named Barbara (Renee Simonsen). Will our heroes figure out what's going on here before the killer strikes again?

    Way too clearly inspired by Brian De Palma's Body Double (this is covered quite a bit in the extra features on this disc) right down to having the film scored by that picture's composer, Pino Donaggio (who clearly knew what was required of him here as his work here is unusually similar to that earlier score), Nothing Underneath isn't particularly original but it is pretty entertaining in the way that it mixes sex, violence and wonky eighties style. Vanzina borrows heavily from De Palma, of course, but also owes a bit to Dario Argento in the way that some of the film's murder set pieces are staged and lit.

    Performances are okay, not amazing but okay, Pleasence not doing anything we haven't seen him do before but still somehow stealing every scenes that he's in. Production values are decent. Vanzina keeps the picture moving at a good pace and the cinematography is strong. The psychic connection that exists between the two siblings is handled pretty effectively here, it isn't nearly as goofy as it sounds, and the movie winds up a decent, if derivative, thriller.

    Too Beautiful To Die:

    An 'in name only' sequel to the first film, 1988's Too Beautiful To Die, directed by Dario Piana works on a similar level. The setting for the film is a fashion agency, the people in charge seem to make a nice living for themselves shooting some very fetish-heavy music videos involving kinky outfits and daggers! Most of the models that are employed at this place also trade in the world's oldest profession, save for one, virginal Sylvia (Gioia Scola). Soon enough, Sylvia winds up raped by a politician and a few of her co-stars, and then found dead, her burned corpse in her car at the bottom of a cliff.

    From here, the bodies start piling up and the director of the music video, David (Franí§ois-Eric Gendron), is getting understandably upset but me manages to find a suitably foxy replacement for Sylvia in the fine form of Melanie (Florence Guerin), with whom he is soon carrying on an affair. As more murders occur, we're left wondering 'whodunit' and why.

    Flashy, splashy and a little bit trashy, this is an exercise in style over substance to be sure but like the first movie, it's pretty entertaining and nice to look at if you don't mind the eighties excess constantly on display. The cinematography takes full advantage of the garish colors and wardrobe choices and the fact that the movie is populated with plenty of attractive women doesn't hurt things either. Throw in a fun score and some solid murder set pieces and this picture, essentially a late period giallo, winds up as perfectly fine entertainment, if not a classic.

    Nothing Underneath/Too Beautiful To Die - Blu-ray Review:

    Vinegar Syndrome presents both films on their own separate region free 50GB discs in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and framed at 1.85.1 widescreen, both films presented 'newly scanned & restored in 4k from their 35mm original negatives.' It's hard to find much to complain about here when evaluating either one of the transfers in the set, they look excellent. There's plenty of fine detail noticeable throughout both movies and lots of depth and texture here as well. There aren't any issues with noise reduction or edge enhancement to note, compression is held firmly in check and all throughout both films the image always looks like film.

    Each disc gets both English and Italian language tracks in 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo that generally sound just fine despite the presence of some minor but noticeable sibilance in a few spots. Otherwise, the tracks are clean and properly balanced, the dialogue always quite easy to follow. Optional subtitles are provided in English only for each film.

    Disc One - Nothing Underneath:

    Extras on the first disc include a commentary track by The Hysteria Continues! that covers all the bases that you'd expect one of their tracks to go over (assuming you're familiar with their work): lots of notes on the cast and crew and other projects that they've been involved with, thoughts on the direction and the score as well as the murder set pieces, how the film compares to other horror pictures from the same era and more. A second Commentary track by film historian and critic Rachael Nisbet is a bit more analytical, offering up a similar amount of trivia and facts about the movie but also going over a lot of the themes that the movie explores and how it explores them. Two pretty different approaches but both tracks have merit.

    As far as the featurettes go, we start with Murders a la mode, an interview with screenwriter Enrico Vanzina that clocks in at twenty-nine minute and goes over how he got into the film industry, some of the early but important pictures that he worked on that allowed him to climb the ladder, a real life incident that took place during the making of the movie and the obvious influence of De Palma's Body Double. Murder He Wrote is an interview with screenwriter Franco Ferrini that runs for twenty-nine minutes and also covers the Body Double influence as well as the source novel that was used for the script, working with Vanzina on the picture and how the movie may at some point became a television series. Composer Pino Donaggio is up next in the thirteen minute High Fashion Music to talk about how he came to work on this picture (not surprisingly, it's because he scored Body Double!), the type of music he created for this picture, why he chose to use the different scoring techniques the were employed here and more. The disc also includes Models, Murders and Italy which is an interview with actor Tom Schanley that runs nineteen minutes. This featurette covers his work in live theater and TV, making the transition to acting in film, some of his early career highlights, how he wound up working in Italy and how he got along with everyone during the shoot.

    Disc Two - Too Beautiful To Die:

    This second disc also includes a commentary track from Rachael Nisbet that is, again, a good mix of critical analysis and facts/trivia about the people that made the movie. She goes over the director's career in a fair bit of detail, makes apt comparisons to other thrillers and explores some of the themes that the film delves into.

    Nothing True But The Eyes is an interview with writer/director Dario Piana that runs for forty-two minutes and covers a lot of ground such as how he got his start shooting TV commercials, getting a chance to move into the film industry, some of the early projects he worked on to help make a name for himself with, the style employed in the picture, influences that worked their way into his films, how this film was promoted as a sequel to Nothing Underneath and his thoughts on all of that, casting the film and some of the Hollywood films he's been attached to over the years.

    Finishing up the extras on disc are is a two minute selection of alternate ending storyboards and twelve minutes of deleted scenes storyboards.

    The first pressing of this release comes with a limited edition embossed slipcover as well as some reversible cover sleeve art.

    Nothing Underneath/Too Beautiful To Die - The Final Word:

    Vinegar Syndrome's two-disc special edition Blu-ray release of Nothing Underneath/Too Beautiful To Die presents two fairly obscure giallo-esque slasher pictures from late eighties Italy in very nice shape and with some pretty solid extra features as well. The movie themselves might not be classics, but they're fun time capsules of the era in which they were made and plenty entertaining at that.

    Click on the images below for full sized Nothing Underneath/Too Beautiful To Die Blu-ray screen caps!







































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