• Die Nachet Des Todas/Night Of Death (Camera Obscura) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Camera Obscura
    Released on: January 21st, 2020.
    Director: Raphael Delpard
    Cast: Isabelle Goguey, Charlotte De Turckheim, Betty Beckers, Michel Debrane, Ernest Menzer, Georges Lucas
    Year: 1980
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    Night Of Death – Movie Review:

    While La Nuit De La Mort was been released on DVD in its native France courtesy of KVP some time ago (sans English subs), it doesn’t’ seem to have had a home video release in North America at all until Synapse Films released it on DVD back in 2009. More than a decade since that release Camera Obscura give the film its high definition debut under the title of Die Nachet Des Todas! That’s something that fans of French horror should be very happy with, because director Raphael Delpard’s tale of weird old cannibals is a film ripe for rediscovery!

    The movie follows a beautiful young redhead named Martine (Isabelle Goguey) who leaves the city where she lives with her boyfriend, Serge (Michel Duchezeau), to take a job as a nurse at a senior’s home called Deadlock House. Ominous in name and architecture, this imposing old manor is home to an eclectic bunch of old coots, most of whom seem to be, initially at least, pretty harmless – vegetarians, even. Martine hits it off with the only other nurse on the staff, Nicole (Charlotte de Turckheim), though this friendship is short lived when she goes out one night and doesn’t return.

    As Martine tries to figure out what happened to her friend, she begins to notice that the residents of Deadlock House may be a little more unusual than she originally thought. The director plays the same tune on the piano, day in day out, and the disabled handyman seems to be obsessed with finding a woman to love. Some of them claim to be much older than they could possibly be, Nicole’s luggage has been disposed of, and their behavior is becoming rampantly bizarre…

    It’s not much of a spoiler to reveal that the old folks in Night Of Death are cannibals. It was mentioned on the back of the packaging for the aforementioned DVD and the cover art pretty much let you know what’s going on right off the bat. The ‘twist’ isn’t really much of a surprise at all and the storyline is fairly predictable, particularly if you’re well versed in European horror. It just has that air of familiarity to it and you’ll probably see it all coming about ten-minutes in. That said, Night Of Death has got atmosphere in spades and this, alongside a moderate amount of gore and some welcome nudity courtesy of Ms. Turckheim (who appears here in a very early role and who would go on to be fairly famous in France), is what makes the picture work.

    Almost a French take on S.F. Brownrigg’s Don’t Look In The Basement, the eerie location work, shadowy interiors, bizarre looking cast of bit players and unearthly score all come together to create a thick, palpable tension that really raises this picture up. Yes, it’s goofy and not especially original, but the films thick veneer of ‘weird’ makes it entirely watchable and wholly entertaining. The performances are a bit uneven, but Isabelle Goguey is as cute as a button and makes for a fine heroine in that she does a pretty good job of looking freaked out from time to time. Michel Flavius as Flavian, the handicapped handyman, steals every scene he’s in, lumbering about and adding some great personality to the film.

    It may not be a particularly terrifying picture and it’s certainly not without its shortcomings, but with expectations held in check, Night Of Death makes for a pretty great way to kill an hour and a half. It’s very nicely shot, and genuinely weird enough to work.

    Night Of Death – Blu-ray Review:

    Night Of Death comes to Blu-ray from Camera Obscura framed at 1.66.1 widescreen taking up 28GBs of space on a 50GB disc. The AVC encoded 1080p high definition presentation looks excellent. The DVD looked very nice for its time but obviously detail is considerably improved here, the new transfer really doing a nice job of showing of the texture of the costuming and all the little details in the background. Skin tones look nice and lifelike, never too pink or waxy, and the image is in excellent shape, retaining the expected amount of natural film grain but showing very little actual print damage. There are no problems with any compression artifacts nor are there any issues with noise reduction or edge enhancement – the picture looks very filmic. Colors are reproduced really nicely as well… no complaints here at all!

    The 24-bit DTS-HD Mono track, in the film’s native French, sounds very good. Optional subtitles are provided in German and English. The track is clean and balanced, there are no problems with any hiss or distortion to note. There’s more depth than you might expect from an older single channel mix as well. The movie sounds quite good here.

    The main extras on the disc are the two interviews that are included. First up is a thirty-six-minute chat with actress Isabelle Goguey wherein she talks about growing up with a family that was already involved in the film business, as her father was director Claude Pierson, who was quite prolific in France’s adult film business in the seventies. She talks about working on his films as a child actor, about seeing Justine De Sade when she was too young to really be seeing it and the effects that it had on her father’s career. She also talks about how he wound up directing adult films as well as a few other pictures he was involved in. She then talks about getting the role in Night Of Death. She shares some stories about what it was like on set and how she got along with the cast and crew, particularly some of the actors and actresses she shared the screen with. She also shares her thoughts on the movie overall and looks back on this part of her career with some legitimate fondness.

    The second interview spends thirty-three-minutes with director/co-writer Raphaël Delpard. He speaks quite candidly about getting his start in the film industry by working on commercial endeavors in his early years and then goes on to talk about where the ideas for Night Of Death came from, working with different collaborators on this project, securing the budget and the locations needed to get the project moving, the editing and scoring of the picture, working with the cast and crew and how the film was received when it debuted back in 1980. This interview is also quite interesting. Both of them are presented in French with optional subtitles available in German or English.

    Aside from that we get a still gallery, menus and chapter selection. As this is a combo pack release, we also get a DVD version of the movie that contains the same extras that are included on the Blu-ray. Packaging wise, Camera Obscura use a very nice, hardcover media book to hold the two discs. This also comes with a stitched in booklet that holds an essay (in German only) from Dr. Marcus Stiglegger und Jakob Larisch accompanied by some archival images.

    Night Of Death – The Final Word:

    Camera Obscura has delivered an excellent high definition package for this obscure French gem of a horror film. Night Of Death is goofy, gory, atmospheric and plenty entertaining and absolutely worth seeking out. Highly recommended!

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