• Morituris

    Released by: Synapse Films
    Released on: September 8th, 2015.
    Director: Raffaele Picchio
    Cast: Valentina D'Andrea, Andrea De Bruyn, Desiree Giorgetti, Francesco Malcom
    Year: 2011
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    The Movie:

    Raffaele Picchio’s Morituris rose to some fairly immediate infamy thanks to the fact that it reportedly featured some impressively grisly gore effects from none other than Sergio Stivaletti, the man behind films like Lamberto Bava’s Demons and Dario Argento’s Opera. And to be fair, those gore effects are pretty impressive. As to the story itself…?

    The movie opens with what is presumably supposed to be some found footage, maybe shot in the seventies or early eighties, no date is given. Here a young girl and her family head into the hills. She wanders off with her uncle and just as it looks like he’s about to molest her, he’s killed. This footage is cut and edited in such a way that it couldn’t be a ‘home movie’ the way we’re supposed to think it is, because there are multiple angles and plenty of edits here.

    At any rate, after that we meet three Italian guys who pick up two Romanian girls travelling through the country side. They talk and smoke and listen to music and then we learn that the guys are going to take them to a rave. Any guess as to where that rave is? A certain forest in the hills. They arrive and of course, no one is there, it’s all just an excuse for these scumbags to rape these poor girls. And rape them they do, but not before beating the living shit out of them and violating one of the girls with a pair of scissors. We see some of this play out through a red filter, indicating that someone or something is watching this happen. Meanwhile a guy connected to the three rapists is having his own terrible fun with a hooker he’s hired for the night.

    Once all the rape is over with, some zombie gladiator types wander into the scene and start killing people off and… that’s about it. Outside of the gore set pieces and the brutal rape scenes there isn’t much of a story here, so go into it with tempered expectations. To the movie’s credit, there is a lot of atmosphere and the actresses who play the two Romanian ladies are quite convincing once it comes time for them to act afraid. You will believe they are terrified, these ladies definitely commit. As the rape sequences are so nasty you sort of get behind our zombie gladiators once they get to massacring everyone. You want the girls to make it out but those guys? You won’t have any problem seeing them taken out in some admittedly very creative kill scenes.

    The gladiators themselves are pretty neat looking. They lumber about with one reason and one reason only – to kill. And they do that well. Unfortunately we don’t really get much of a back story as to why they’re hanging out in the woods killing people. They just sort of show up and leave. As to what it has to do with the opening sequence? We assume it was the gladiators that took out the horny perverted uncle character but it doesn’t wind up tying into anything. The movie is passably interesting as a sort of hyper-stylized atrocity exhibition because it is well shot and it does make very good use of shadowy locations and some interesting work with color. It is very well shot, the camera work is great, but it’s all more or less style over substance.


    Morituris arrives on Blu-ray from Synapse Films in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. Shot digitally there is obviously no print damage to note (although the opening scene is intentionally made to look like old 8mm footage) and the picture is clean and nicely detailed for the most part. Some scenes show better detail and texture than others, and close ups fare the best here but this is a nice transfer. Given how dark the movie is and how much of it takes place outdoors in the night time shadow detail fares surprisingly well and there are no problems with crush or mpeg compression. Colors look good, though the movie is heavy on greys and blues and blacks so keep your expectations in check in that regard. In short, this seems like a well authored and accurate representation of the source.

    The only audio option on the disc is an Italian language DTS-HD 5.1 and 2.0 Master Audio tracks (if you don’t switch it from the menu and just hit play, the disc defaults to the 2.0 mix) while optional subtitles are provided in English only. Clarity and quality of both tracks is solid. Not surprisingly the 5.1 mix spreads things out a bit more, using the rears when the movie calls for it but regardless of which option you go for you’ll have no trouble. Levels are properly balanced and there’s good depth and range here. As you’d expect for a more recent feature, there are no problems with any hiss or disotriton.

    Extras are limited to a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection. Worth noting though is that the cover art is reversible, always a nice touch.

    The Final Word:

    Morituris is no masterpiece by any stretch but it is atmospheric, nasty and gory and it looks really good for a low budget picture – for some horror fans, that’ll be more than enough. Synapse’s Blu-ray release is light on extras but it does look and sound quite good.

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

    Comments 5 Comments
    1. sukebanboy's Avatar
      sukebanboy -
      Damn...was waiting to see this one and hoping it was better than your review obviously exposes it to be...was expecting a kind of modern TEMPLAR KNIGHTS kind zof thing...or at least something that had a bit of a story...
    1. Andrew Monroe's Avatar
      Andrew Monroe -
      I have mixed emotions about this film, on one hand it was quite atmospheric and disturbing - and the zombie gladiators are pretty intimidating (loved the growling) and look cool; on the other hand the violence and rapes perpetrated on the women was really nasty and seemed stuck in the film for no good reason. Those beatings were really lingered on too. Yeah, not much of a story either but it does have some tense bits with the zombies. A couple cool tunes on the soundtrack too.
    1. Matt H.'s Avatar
      Matt H. -
      I just wanted to warn people who are thinking of purchasing this that the subtitles are for the hearing impaired, with no other option (as far as I can tell). Along with the dialogue translation, you also get all of the background noise described as well (i.e. birds chirping, gravel crunching, heavy breathing). It was so annoying that I switched them off once the rape sequence started. As I suspected, the movie is very easy to follow at this point, but it's still surprising that Synapse wouldn't consider this choice of subs irritating. Too bad, really, cause the film itself is pretty cool.
    1. sukebanboy's Avatar
      sukebanboy -
      Thanks for the warning Matt.

      Unusual decision made by someone involved in this...
    1. Wernski's Avatar
      Wernski -
      This is a film that really calls for some extra features, if only to explain what they were thinking. Parts of this (esp the ending) are quite cool, others seem pretty terrible (the guy on the phone)... I'd still be interested in a better release of this film, but disappointed in Synapse's handling.