• Whip And The Body, The

    Released by: Kino Lorber
    Released on: December 17th, 2013.
    Director: Mario Bava
    Year: 1963
    Cast: Christopher Lee, Daliah Lavia
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    The Movie:

    Mario Bava’s 1963 thriller, The Whip And The Body, is set in the nineteenth century and stars Christopher Lee as Kurt Menliff, a nobleman who returns to the family castle after a long stint away from home. Upon his return, he soon finds himself in constant disagreement with his ailing father. Kurt’s wimpy younger brother, Christian (Tony Kendall), is married to Kurt’s ex-flame, Nevenka (Daliah Lavi), who also happens to be their cousin. The day after Kurt arrives home his lifeless body is found dead in the bedroom, the victim of an unseen assailant.

    Shortly after Kurt’s death, however, Nevenka starts seeing his ghost, or what she thinks is his ghost, roaming the halls of the castle and the lands that surround it… and this ghost is none too happy to be dead. But who killed Kurt? Everyone had a motive. He was largely unpopular with all who knew him after all, and he had few friends in life thanks to his penchant for cruelty and his constant mistreatment of those around him. Is Kurt really back from the dead and looking for vengeance?

    Beautifully shot and full of gorgeous visuals, The Whip And The Body is, by all accounts, one of Sir Christopher Lee’s favorites out of the many roles that he’s played over the years and it’s easy to see why. He’s given ample opportunity to ‘play the bastard’ in this one and he does do a fine job of it. Additionally, solid supporting efforts from the gorgeous Lavi and the enjoyable Tony Kendall do a good job of rounding out the cast nicely. Lavi in particular is quite captivating here, she’s obviously a very attractive woman but in addition to that she has an interesting screen presence. She has the right look for a gothic horror picture like this one and is very well cast in her part. Everyone looks their part, their features seemingly quite appropriate and fitting the characters. Lee especially has this morose, sour look on his face throughout much of the proceedings, one that works in his performance’s favor. He looks as miserable as his character behaves!

    Being a Bava film, it shouldn’t surprise those who know his work that this is a film filled with beautiful cinematography, gorgeous color schemes and lush production values. The gothic atmosphere is complimented by the constant use of primary colors here, and the cinematography, courtesy of Bava and Ubaldo Terzano, does a great job of making use of the shadowy locales where the movie was shot. Carlo Rustichelli’s score fits the film like a glove, enhancing the more atmospheric parts of the film and adding plenty of dramatic effect to the rest of it.


    Kino offers up The Whip And The Body for the first time on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer that is framed at 1.78.1 The materials used for the transfer were obviously in excellent shape as outside of a few specks here and there, there isn’t much in the way of print damage to note at all. What will throw some off, no doubt, is how much darker this transfer looks compared to previous DVD releases. The higher bit rate ensures that there aren’t any significant artifacting issues and there isn’t whole lot of crush to complain about, but the dark scenes in the movie are darker than before. There’s also a lot more blue here than on past releases, most noticeably in the interior shots. Detail looks very good in the scenes that have more light but tends to get lost in much of the shadows. Skin tones look fine, there’s no evidence of noise reduction or edge enhancement nor are there any aliasing issues. The screen caps below give you an accurate idea of what to expect here. There are those who will probably prefer the color timing of the older DVD release but the improvements you’d expect from an HD transfer are evident here.

    Audio options are offered up in LPCM Mono options in English, Italian and French. Given that Lee’s actual voice doesn’t factor into any one of the three tracks provided here, you can more or less take your pick, but the Italian track features the actual voices of the rest of the cast so it’s likely to be considered the most authentic of the three options. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. All three tracks sound fine, the whooshing of the wind outside having an ominous tone, dialogue coming through quite clearly and the score having a fair amount of depth and presence to it.

    The main extra on the disc is an audio commentary from Mario Bava biographer Tim Lucas that was originally recorded for the VCI DVD release years back. If you haven’t heard the track, it’s a good. Lucas offers up loads of trivia about the cast, the crew, the locations and the themes and also talks about the reception that the film received and some of the more unusual overtones. He also does a great job of placing it into context along some of the other films that the director made. It’s quite informative.

    Outside of that we get a trailer for the feature, trailers for other Maria Bava titles available on Blu-ray from Kino (Black Sunday, A Bay Of Blood, Baron Blood and Lisa And The Devil), menus and chapter stops.

    The Final Word:

    Mario Bava’s The Whip And The Body remains a moody, atmospheric and tense gothic thriller performed by a great cast and showcasing the director’s trademark visual tactics in grand style. The Blu-ray from Kino carries over the commentary and offers up some trailers in the extra feature department and allows viewers the choice of three different lossless audio options. As to the transfer? There are pros and cons here, it’s really all going to come down to your own thoughts on the color timing. It’s well authored and clean and some scenes show superb detail, others are a sea of black and blue. You could make the case that this adds to the mystery of it all, and that, well, the insides of old castles tend to be pretty dark, but again, personal preference – the images below tell the tale!

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Gary Banks's Avatar
      Gary Banks -
      I am totally disappointed with this release. Too much blue tinting that drowns out the color scheme Bava employed. I'm sorry I bought this bd but glad I didn't toss the old VCI dvd.
    1. bgart13's Avatar
      bgart13 -
      Ditto with Gary.
    1. Richard--W's Avatar
      Richard--W -
      !!! Somebody just went mondo gonzo with the blue. The film either drowns in blue or is so dark nothing can be seen properly. Kino can't be serious, releasing the blu-ray in this condition.