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Libido (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Libido (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: June 10th, 2022.
    Director: Ernesto Gastaldi, Vittorio Salerno
    Cast: Dominique Boschero, Mara Maryl, Giancarlo Giannini, Luciano Pigozzi
    Year: 1965
    Purchase From Severin Films

    Libido – Movie Review:

    The directorial debut of Ernesto Gastaldi, who co-wrote and co-directed the film with Vittorio Salerno (they are collectively credited as director Julian Berry Storff in the opening credits!), 1965's Libido tells the story of a freckled boy named Christian who seems somewhat obsessed with his windup toy. Poor Christian witness his father murder a beautiful blonde woman that he has tied to his bed. It’s a pretty strong opening scene that does a great job of setting up what’s to come.

    Years later, Christian (Giancarlo Gianni) is now a grown man, sans freckles and his father is dead. He’s also been seeing a doctor. He travels back to the massive old house near the rough coast where he saw this shocking event with his lovely raven-haired wife Helene (Dominique Boschero, whose character is referred to as Eileen in the English language version). Christian has inherited the property and wants to check it out before selling it off. The caretaker of his father's estate, homely looking Paul (Luciano Pigozzi) who somehow married up to his wife pretty blonde wife Brigitte (Mara Meryl, who was Gastaldi's wife at the time) is there to inventory the estate. They’re along for the ride and it's clear early on that Christian and Paul aren't going to be the best of friends.

    Not long after they arrive in the old home, Christian starts seeing what he believes to be the ghost of his later father and Helene wakes up with strange marks on her face - but is Christian really seeing his father’s ghost or is he losing his mind? Or is someone else trying to convince him that he's losing his mind? While this is going on, Christian, who gets himself a handgun, and Brigitte start making eyes at one another, while Paul and Helene seem like they might have something going on as well. It builds from there…

    Performances are pretty good here. Giancarlo Gianni works well in the lead, he plays his part believably and brings some great facial expressions and eye movements to the moments where his character starts to freak out and lose it. Dominique Boschero is also very good here. Not only easy on the eyes, she does a good job portraying her character’s conflict and stress as the plot escalates. Mara Maryl plays exhibitionist Brigitte perfectly, her character coming across as very flirtatious and aloof, making it obvious that she doesn’t mind the extra attention she gets (at one point, strutting about in a wonky bikini where the cups are painted up as cat faces, with a cat face on the bottom as well!). Luciano Pigozzi is, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, also very good.

    Very clearly influenced by Diabolique, Libido is a simple but effective thriller that, at just under ninety minutes in length, doesn’t overstay its welcome. Well-paced and, in its second half at least, quite tense, it moves quickly and offers viewers a nice mix of style and substance. The black and white cinematography is shadowy and atmospheric and the score from Carlo Rustichelli adds some quirk to the proceedings and suits the tone of the movie nicely (there’s a great piece of music used just after the fifty-seven minute mark when Christian chases Paul and Helene into town that is essentially just a wild drum solo). The house itself, and its décor, plays a big part in making the movie as effective as it is, as it’s got some odd features such as a room covered in mirrors that ties into Christian’s childhood trauma. At one point in the film, Brigitte, who bears a resemblance to the woman killed in the opening scene, dances around the room in lingerie to some instrumental music, and we can see on Gianni’s face how memories he’d probably have rather repressed come flooding back to him when he spies on her doing it. There are also plenty of gothic furniture and large, stark, weird paintings adorning the massive old home’s walls that look just a little off kilter and add to the weirdness and the cold, raw stone exterior makes it look almost like a castle in some shots. It’s pretty much the perfect location to stage a thriller like this one.

    Libido – Blu-ray Review:

    Severin's AVC encoded 1080p high definition reissue of Libido, which is framed at 1.66.1 widescreen, is quite good and has been scanned from a dupe negative, the only known existing element. The black and white picture, which uses 27.7GB of space on the 50GB disc, is generally in really nice shape, though there are flashes of damage now and again. Contrast looks nice, we get strong black levels, clean whites and a nice greyscale covering everything in between. The image is naturally grainy but not distractingly so, it just looks like film. There aren’t any problems with overzealous noise reduction or edge enhancement nor are there any compression problems to complain about.

    English and Italian mono options are provided in 24-bit DTS-HD 1.0 with separate subtitles provided for each track. The English dubbing on the film isn’t good, it feels off and the film plays much better in Italian, but it’s nice to have both options included here and they both sound fine, as they’re clean, clear and properly balanced. The levels on the English track seem a bit higher and the track is a bit fuller than the Italian option. Either way, the audio is just fine.

    Extras start off with an audio commentary featuring Kat Ellinger, the author of Daughters Of Darkness. She makes some parallels to different gothic and lower budget horror movies, discusses the mystery elements present in the film and offers up lots of information about Ernesto Gastaldi and his cohorts. As the talk progresses, she talks about fandom and scholarly circles tendency to genrify things, the Hollywood gothic cycle, details on the different cast and crew members, the misogyny in giallo films, the Hitchcockian elements in the picture and more.

    I've Got You Under My Skin is a sprawling fifty-seven minute interview with writer/director Ernesto Gastaldi. He talks about where he was at professionally and personally in 19865, collaborating with a few key players in the Italian film industry, getting the chance to work on this picture and having to do so on a very low budget, casting the picture, what it was like collaborating with the different crew members involved in the production, some of the trickiness involved in shooting in the mirrored room, the locations used for the film, the editing on display in the picture, what he learned as his career evolved (he was one told that "producing a film is like farting on a curtain"!), befriending Tim Lucas, having to work under pressure more often than not, working with the four main cast members in the movie, working on a lot of giallo and western pictures because there was very little risk in their not performing, his relationship with Mara Maryl and the health issues she has had in recent years and how he's outlived many of his contemporaries.

    An Italian language trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection options are also provided.

    Libido – The Final Word:

    Libido works really well, it’s as slick and stylish as it is suspenseful and thanks to some great direction and strong acting it builds to really satisfying conclusion. Severin’s Blu-ray release of this underseen thriller looks and sounds quite strong and offers up a few nice extra features as well. Recommended!



    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Libido Blu-ray screen caps!

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