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The Other Side Of The Mirror (Mondo Macabro) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • The Other Side Of The Mirror (Mondo Macabro) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Mondo Macabro
    Released on: October 11th, 2022.
    Director: Jess Franco
    Cast: Emma Cohen, Alice Arno, Howard Vernon, Wal Davis
    Year: 1973
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Other Side Of The Mirror – Movie Review:

    Jess Franco’s 1973 film, The Other Side Of The Mirror, introduces us to a beautiful young woman named Ana (Emma Cohen) who lives alone with her father (Howard Vernon) and her aunt in a beautiful old country estate on an island off the coast of Spain. Early in the film, Ana is engaged to a man named Arturo (Wal Davis). When she talks to her father about their plans to become husband and wife, he tries to talk her out of it, clearly voicing his disapproval.

    Ana, however, speaks to her aunt about it and decides to go ahead with the wedding. When her wedding dress arrives, she puts it on and excitedly tries to find her father and show it off, only to find that he has committed suicide and hanged himself. She sees his body hanging behind her when she looks in a large mirror in his room.

    From here, Ana breaks things off with Arturo and leaves the estate for the city on the mainland where she gets a job as a pianist and vocalist in a jazz ensemble. Things get off to a good start but it isn’t long before she starts seeing eerie visions of her father’s hanging corpse, seemingly trying to communicate with her through the mirror. When this happens, Ana winds up stabbing to death any man that she winds up getting close to, leading Ana’s psyche to being to crumble. The arrival of friends Tina (Alice Arno), Pipo (Philippe Lemaire) and Carla (Françoise Brion) offers a brief reprieve, but it soon becomes clear that Ana is very damaged indeed.

    Set to a score by Adolfo Waitzman that, at times, feels like it may have influenced Morricone's main theme from Le Professional made a few years later in 1981, this Spanish-French co-production is beautifully shot by Antonio Millán and proves to be a deliberately slow but engaging and pensive viewing experience. The horror and sexploitation elements are minimal in this movie (at least in this version – the French cut, under the title The Obscene Mirror, has a lot more sex in it) but it’s nevertheless a strangely compelling psychological thriller that is, if not exactly conventional by mainstream standards, maybe at least a bit more accessible than a good amount of Franco’s work.

    Franco’s direction is strong here, but a really big part of the reason that this works as well as it does is Emma Cohen’s work in the lead. She has the perfect look for the character, attractive but innocent and maybe a little naïve looking, there’s a fragility to her performance that is very important to how things play out for her. Cohen’s surrounded by some strong players. Howard Vernon is very good in his role, though it’s very much a supporting part and he doesn’t get loads of screen time here. It’s always nice to see the lovely Alice Arno show up in a Franco movie, and she, along with Lemaire and Brion, are well cast as Ana’s superficial, wealthy friends. The always strange Wal Davis (also known as Waldemar Wohlfahrt!) is pretty good in his role and Robert Woods is quite good as Ana's bandmate and potential lover, Bill. Really though, it’s Cohen’s show, however, and this proves to be an excellent role for her.

    The Other Side Of The Mirror – Blu-ray Review:

    The Other Side Of The Mirror debuts on region free Blu-ray from Mondo Macabro framed at 1.78.1 widescreen in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer sourced from a “digitally restored 4K scan of the film negative.” With the feature using up just over 29GBs of space on the 50GB disc, it looks quite good. Colors are reproduced really nicely and skin tones look great. We get solid black levels and a nice, filmic feel throughout. Detail is quite strong, though as is typical with Franco movies, some scenes do look a fair bit softer than others depending on the lighting and focus being employed at any given time.

    Audio chores are handled by a Spanish language 16-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track with optional subtitles offered up in English only. Audio quality is quite good, with the score having some nice depth to it. The levels are balanced well and there are no issues with any hiss or distortion to note here.

    Extras start off with a new audio commentary by Robert Monell and Rodney Barnett that goes over the archeological aspects of the narrative and the cinematography and how it explores Ana's disturbed mind before then going on to cover some of the music and the credits, and how his version differs from the Italian version of the movie. From there, they discuss how the first came to see the movie and their initial thoughts on it, the incest angles of the story, speculation as to where Franco got some of the ideas from and the way he explores the possibility of abuse in the movie from a female perspective, the purpose and frequency of the music scenes in the film, some of the odd wardrobe choices on display in the movie, how the film compares to other Franco efforts like Venus In Furs, details on the different cast and crew members, how Cohen is an example of Franco's 'type' in regards to casting female leads, how the film was received and the award Cohen won for her work in it, details on the alternate French version in which Lina Romay appeared and lots more. It's a thoughtful and well-structured talk that does a very nice job of peeling back the layers of the film and its history.

    Up next is a new fifty-six minute interview with author Stephen Thrower that does a ridiculously deep dive into the film's history and themes, detailing the casting of the picture, its connections to other Franco movies including Female Vampire, the film's release history, the different versions of the movie that exist and where they were released, how the movie compares to other Franco pictures made before and after and quite a bit more. It's a very interesting examination of the movie and it offers up some welcome food for thought.

    The disc also includes an interview with Robert Woods in which the actor talks about his film career. He discusses how he basically started working in westerns and then how he came to meet Franco, who he notes he originally had some disdain for given that he was known primarily as a director of sex films. He then goes on to talk about working with him on this film and on a few others. Woods is pretty open about the work he did, there aren't any false pretenses here and he shares some interesting stories. This interview was originally included on the Countess Perverse DVD that Mondo Macabro released in 2012.

    The disc also includes an interesting selection of four minutes of alternate scenes taken from the French and Spanish versions (some of which feature Lina Romay as Cohen’s sister, replacing her father in the movie). Unfortunately, not all of the alternate footage from the alternate versions has been included here but what is included is interesting to see. There are also menus and chapter selection options and, of course, the Mondo Macabro promo reel included here.

    The Other Side Of The Mirror – The Final Word:

    The Other Side Of The Mirror is a weirdly dreamlike film, deliberately slow in its pacing but somehow quite engaging throughout thanks to some really nice camerawork and a strong performance from Emma Cohen. Mondo Macabro’s Blu-ray release looks and sounds very good and has a nice selection of extra features as well. Essential for Franco fans.


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

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