• Slave, The

    Released by: Mondo Macabro
    Released on: September 9th, 2014.
    Director: Pasquale Festa Campanile
    Cast: Haydee Politoff, Rosanna Schiaffino, Romolo Valli, Gabriele Tinti
    Year: 1969
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    The Movie:

    Pasquale Festa Campanile’s The Slave (also known as Check To The Queen) stars Haydee Politoff is Silvia, a beautiful young woman who would seem to have it all. She lives in a fancy house and has got plenty of money and does not want for worldly possessions. Yet it would seem that every night she dreams of being ravished and dominated in a sexual fashion by countless strangers – so maybe there’s something she doesn’t have after all.

    Her life takes an interesting turn when she meets up with an actress named Margaret (Rosanna Schiaffino) by way of their mutual friend Dina (Daniela Surina). She lives by herself and as the two hit it off, Margaret invites Silvia to move in with her. She obliges, after all, Margaret will train her in the art of modelling and maybe there’s a career in this for her, but it’s obvious to anyone paying even the slightest bit of attention that these two women are quite attracted to one another. It gets to the point where neither of them want to fight it anymore, and then things get interesting as Silvia willingly becomes her new playmate’s paid slave.

    This one would fit in perfectly alongside the same movies that Radley Metzger was making around the same period (and in fact Campanile’s earlier The Libertine was distributed by Metzger’s Audobon Films), as it’s slick, sexy and decadent in all the right ways. It mixes sexual fantasy with the proposed filmed reality in interesting ways and puts the visuals far ahead of the actual storyline but Campanile is savvy enough to make sure the characters are not only attractive to look at but interesting to follow as well. It’s all very lushly photographed, sometimes with an obvious intent to create a dream like atmosphere, and the whole thing is set to an absolutely fantastic score from Pierre Piccinoi (further establishing that Metzger connection as he did the music for that director’s film Camille 2000).

    The supporting cast all do fine work here (look for Gabrielle Tinti in a supporting role as one of Margaret’s male playthings) the focus is, not surprisingly, on Politoff and Schiaffino. The two female leads offer fairly bold performances here, there’s no shortage of nudity on display though those hoping for more explicit material will do well to keep in mind that this is actually all handled rather tastefully (it’s more arthouse than grindhouse for the most part). There are quite a few scenes that don’t feature much dialogue which give the actresses, Politoff more so than her co-star, interesting opportunities to express emotion using eye movements rather than words. Campanile’s cinematographer Roberto Gerardi does a great job of capturing this with some surprisingly tension inducing angles and close ups at just the right moment. Skillfully edited and quite well paced, this is a great mix of late sixties pop-art style and the exploration of some enjoyably kinky sexual quirks.


    Mondo Macabro presents The Slave in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 2.35.1 and for all accounts and purposes it translates to Blu-ray very nicely indeed. The image is quite colorful which really allows you to appreciate the fashions and furnishings used throughout the film – sometimes they pop quite vividly, but never to the point where anything seems boosted or unnatural. Skin tones look healthy and lifelike and there aren’t any obvious issues with any noise reduction or overzealous edge enhancement. A few white specks may pop up here and there but outside of that print damage is never problematic and both detail and texture remain impressive throughout the movie.

    The only audio option on the disc is an Italian language LPCM Mono track with (forced) subtitles provided in English. While the dialogue is crisp, clean and properly balanced throughout it’s Piccioni’s fantastic score that really benefits the most from the lossless audio option. Range is a bit limited as single channel tracks can be, but there’s more depth here than you might expect and the movie sounds very good.

    Extras start off with an interview with Roberto Curti that runs about twenty-eight minutes in length. Here the film critic discusses the differences between the film and its source material, the performances featured in the picture and the cast and crew involved with the film. He also offers some historical context as to the Italian political climate under which the movie was made – it’s interesting stuff. We also get a twenty-minute interview with Julie Harris of the UK’s Film Bar 70 that talks up what makes Italian genre films from the country’s heyday so interesting before then narrowing her focus to The Slave and it’s different merits.

    The disc also includes a text piece that offers up some background information on the film, text profiles for Campanile, Piccioni, Schiaffino and Politoff and a load of trailers for a bunch of rad looking Italian films like La Collectionneuse, Interrabang, Queens Of Evil, Hector The Mighty
    Count Dracula's Great Love, The Human Factor and a bunch of other films from Campanile like The Libertine, Con Quale Amore Con Quanto Amore, When Women Had Tails, Soldier Of Fortune, Hitch-Hike, The Girl From Trieste and Bingo Bongo. In order to find these, you have to go through the profiles, they’re not available off of the main extras menu. Menus and chapter selection or included, of course, and as this is a combo pack release the Blu-ray case also contains a DVD version of the movie with identical extra features.

    The Final Word:

    Mondo Macabro’s Blu-ray debut of The Slave is a good one, presenting this genuine Eurocult oddity in excellent condition and with a nice array of supplements as well. The movie is a trip and this disc is a great way to experience it.

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

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. John Bernhard's Avatar
      John Bernhard -
      Can't wait for my copy to show up! Here is an interesting post from the bluray.com forums about the transfer.

      asmodeux21 says:Interestingly enough, if you stick around after the ending and the black screen which follows it, the credits for the film's transfer are LVR and David Mackenzie. I'm going to assume that LVR finally got their act together and decided to improve and upgrade their scanning equipment. Perhaps, David would like to comment on this.

      Lyris responds:No, nothing changed at LVR. They are still using the Cintel DSX/C-Reality. The reason it looks the way it does is because I rejected the original transfer that arrived for this film (powdery-looking grain owed to noise reduction to try and reduce the noise produced by the telecine). I was then supplied with the raw, graded but un-processed output that had been scanned in the months before, and I re-did the post production myself without the noise reduction. I did use other frequency shaping techniques to solve the CRT noise problem but those don't compromise the appearance of the film grain. In other words, for the final version that made it to shelves, LVR did the original scanning and color grading, but I took over everything after that. Given the improvement in quality, this was enough to convince Mondo Macabro to release on BD instead of just NTSC DVD. So, the BD of THE SLAVE is what those transfers could have looked like. Still not as amazing Techniscope scanned on something like an Arriscan could look like, but I'm happy with the result we got from the C-Reality.
    1. Andrew Monroe's Avatar
      Andrew Monroe -
      I LOVE that shot of Schiaffino literally in the mirror. I need something like that at my house. Love this film and BD so much. Piccioni is the man on this s/t.

      Nice review, Ian!
    1. Jared A.'s Avatar
      Jared A. -
      Great review, Ian! One thing to clarify is that sadly, the English subtitles are not optional. They cannot be removed.