• The Pyjama Girl Case (Arrow Video) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: September 18th, 2018.
    Director: Flavio Mogherini
    Cast: Ray Milland, Dalila Di Lazzaro, Michele Placido, Howard Ross, Mel Ferrer
    Year: 1977
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    Pyjama Girl Case – Movie Review:

    Better known as a set designer and art director, Flavio Mogherini never the less contributed one directorial effort to the giallo genre with 1977's The Pyjama Girl Case, based on a particularly gruesome real life killing that took Australia by surprise in 1934.

    A dead woman is found by a pair of kids on a lonely stretch of Australian beach when the film starts out and we see that she's been badly beaten and burned quite seriously. The only way that the police are able to identify her is by her bright yellow pyjamas, as her face has been burned beyond recognition. Although the cops are able to tell that she was likely raped before she was killed, they're unable to put a name to the corpse and it a tasking investigation for the local police. Enter one Detective Thompson (Ray Milland of The Premature Burial), a retired police officer who feels that the cops on the case are bumbling the investigation and who decides that since he is really interested in finding out all he can about this case, that he'll step on board to help out.

    While all of this is going on we learn of a young woman named Glenda Blythe (Dalila Di Lazzaro of Kinski's Paganini) who leads a rather hard life. She's flat broke and having trouble getting by and while she soon marries her boyfriend, Antonio (Michele Placido of Plot Of Fear), her ties to two other men in her life – namely a professor named Henry Douglas (Mel Ferrar of Umberto Lenzi's Nightmare City) and a wealthy European named Roy Connor (Howard Ross of Fulci's The New Gladiators) – aren't all that easy to break away from. How Glenda's story ties into that of the corpse on the beach proves to be pretty interesting stuff and as the film plays out, these two seemingly separate tales begin to intertwine into one carefully crafted murder mystery.

    Not as colorful or as flamboyant as a lot of other giallo's from the era, The Pyjama Girl Case is grisly subject matter to be sure. That being said, there's enough visual flair here to ensure that things always look good, even when the subject matter can turn ugly and the cinematography is very solid. The whole ordeal feels very sleazy as the film has more than a few unlikable characters and as such the movie is pretty downbeat at tines. As dark as it gets, however, the movie is pretty engaging material as the storyline proves to be a step above most of its peers as its neither predictable or a by the numbers effort.

    The film benefits from a rather interesting cast of recognizable cult movie actors. Mel Ferrar, who shows up in all manner of Italian exploitation movies from the seventies and eighties, is fine here as is an aged Ray Milland who spends a lot of his screen time looking exhausted and unhappy (it suits his character). Dalila is as pretty as she's ever been here and it's easy to see why the men in the film are drawn to her as she is quite the looker and her performance here is at times quite good and probably better than most of us would expect, even if she's obviously dubbed by someone else. Adding to the noteworthy qualities of the film is a strange score from Riz Ortolani of Cannibal Holocaust fame, and although it sometimes feels a little out of place it's at least an interesting effort.

    With the bulk of the film shot on location in Australia it should come as no surprise to find that the movie is quite picturesque throughout much of its running time. The camera does its best to capture the genuinely pretty area where the murders were to have taken place.

    Pyjama Girl Case – Blu-ray Review:

    Pyjama Girl Case arrives on Blu-ray from Arrow Video in a transfer taken from a ‘brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative’ framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and looking really good. Detail and color reproduction are quite a bit stronger than on the previous DVD release that came out via Blue Underground while black levels are nice and strong throughout. Any print damage that shows up here is minor – the occasional small white speck, nothing more than that – while skin tones look lifelike and natural. There are no problems to note with compression issues, nor are there any problems with noise reduction or edge enhancement.

    Original lossless mono Italian and English soundtracks are offered up in English and Italian language options with newly translated English subtitles provided for the Italian soundtrack and English SDH subtitles for the English soundtrack. Both tracks sound fine, with good balance and a reasonable amount of range. The score benefits the most from the lossless treatment but dialogue sounds a bit stronger as well.

    Extras start off with a new audio commentary by Troy Howarth, the man who wrote the two volumes of the So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films series. He does a fine job of giving us some welcome background information on the players involved in the film both in front of and behind the camera, and he also points out what works about the film and, occasionally, what doesn’t. The track is a good mix of insight and trivia delivered with a decent sense of humor.

    From there, we start with the first of four new featurettes with a twenty-nine-minute video interview with author and critic Michael Mackenzie entitled Small Word: The Internationalism Of The Giallo. Here MacKenzie speaks about how the globetrotting characters that are so common in these films lend an appeal to them that makes them appealing to audiences outside of their native Italy. This segues into talks about the importance of co-producers from various countries collaborating on films together, dubbing for international theatrical play and quite a bit more. It’s an interesting and entertaining piece that covers ground not frequently gone over in home video supplements, making it well worth your time.

    After that, dig into a new video interview with actor Howard Ross entitled A Good Bad Guy, running thirty-two-minutes. He talks quite candidly here about how and why he landed the part that he did on this picture, how he got along with the director, his thoughts on some of his co-stars and some of the communication issues that he ran into on the picture. Editor Alberto Tagliavia shows up in the twenty-three-minute A Study In Elegance featurette. This finds him talking up Mogherini’s interest in architecture and how it affects the film, having to make three separate attempts to get the movie into its finished form, and other career highlights. Assistant director Ferruccio Castronuovo is up next in the fifteen-minute Inside The Yellow Pyjama segment that finds him discussing his collaborations with Mogherini, the locations where the film was shot, the shooting schedule and more.

    Lastly, Arrow throws in an archival interview with composer Riz Ortolani entitled The Yellow Rhythm wherein the late Ortolani talks for twenty-one-minutes about his work not just here specifically but in the Italian film industry in general, covering pretty much every genre he ever worked in. He also provides some background information and talks about how he got into the business as well as the often very hectic pace that he had to create at in order to keep the steady jobs coming.

    A still gallery and an Italian theatrical trailer round out the extras alongside menus and chapter selection options. Unfortunately, the interviews from the previous DVD release from Blue Underground were not ported over for this release.

    Pyjama Girl Case– The Final Word:

    The Pyjama Girl Case might not be the flashiest or sexiest giallo ever made but it is a well-executed thriller with some fine performances and nice cinematography. The story is as interesting as it is suspenseful and while it's a little more demanding than most films of its ilk, it proves to be a very good suspense film indeed. Arrow has done a fine job bringing this one to Blu-ray.

    Click on the images below for full sized Pyjama Girl Case Blu-ray review screen captures!