• Bahía blanca (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: June 26th, 2020.
    Director: Jess Franco
    Cast: Eva León, Lina Romay, Antonio Mayans, Trino Trives, Analía Ivars, Antonio Rebollo
    Year: 1984
    Purchase From Severin Films

    Bahía blanca – Movie Review:

    When this Jess Franco film from 1984 begins, a man named Pocho Martin is found dead on the shore of a small coastal town on Deer Island, assumed to have drowned in the waters nearby. A forensic scientist named Ramiro examines Pocho’s corpse and decides that the cause of death was murder. When word of this gets back to Commissioner Carlos Fernández (Antonio Mayans), he is, quite understandably, quite concerned.

    Meanwhile, a friend of Poncho’s named Silvia Maderos (Analia Ivars) learns of her friend’s death, but doesn’t let this dissuade her from going ahead with her planned marriage to her fiancé, Andy (José Llamas), who works as a hired bodyguard for crime boss Raúl Sebastián (Tony Skios). When Andy lets loose to Silvia the fact that he isn’t just Sebastián’s bodyguard but also his son, she breaks up with him.

    As Carlos moves forward with an investigation, a man of dubious sanity named Oscar (played by Franco himself) tells him that, on Deer Island, there exists a pair of women whose modus operandi is to seduce the sailors that arrive on the island’s shores and then do away with them. Carlos and Ramiro arrive in the area and meet Alida (Eva León) and her mute sister Mary (Lina Romay), the two beautiful sisters that run the local tavern, an establishment that also happens to double as a brothel. As it turns out, Carlos has known Alida for ages – in fact, they have quite the past - and they’re happy to have the reunion, but Carlos remains determined to solve the murder of Pocho regardless of the feelings being rekindled for his old flame.

    More of a melodrama than anything else, Bahía blanca is a seriously interesting picture from Franco that is an atypical entry in what is, overall, an atypical filmography in the first place. There’s a pensiveness here that helps to make the film quite interesting, and on top of that it is absolutely beautiful to look at. The island locations used for the film are pretty much perfect for the story being told, and the cinematography employed in the picture does a gorgeous job of capturing it, with some long, languid shots of the sun over the coast really standing out as almost perfectly picturesque.

    The acting here is considerably stronger than a lot of Franco’s other films, and the film feels more thought out and less rushed than some of his other pictures. Mayans makes for a strong male lead here, handling the dramatic and romantic aspects of his role with ease. Eva León is also very good here, alluring and mysterious, a femme fatale of sorts, while Lina Romay does a great job in a silent role, using her expressive facial features and body language to communicate very effectively.

    Bahía blanca – Blu-ray Review:

    Severin Films brings Bahía blanca to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.66.1 widescreen taken from a new 4k scan of the original negative taking up 21.5GBs of space on the 25GB disc. The image is a bit grainier than you might expect and it shows some mild print damage but overall, it’s in decent enough shape. There are a few spots in the darker scenes where the encoding gets a bit tough, but detail is pretty solid here and colors are nicely reproduced.

    The only audio option on the disc is a Spanish language 24-bit LPCM 2.0 Mono in English. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. The track is a bit hissy in spots but the levels are balanced well enough and the score sounds pretty good hear, you can pick out a lot of audible detail in the flamenco guitar work.

    There are two extra features here, the first is In The Land Of Franco Part 4, where Stephen Thrower, once again joined by Antonio Mayans, explores Jaen and Orihuela in Spain. Here, over the span of eighteen-minutes, they check out interior and exterior locations used in Revenge In The House Of Usher, as well as locations used in the last film that Mayans made with Franco, that being La Noche De Los Asesinos. They tour around The Episcopal Palace used for that shoot and Mayans even talks to some tourists about the film they shout in the area. At one point, they also randomly visit a man who claimed to have been present for the filming of the movie when he was a kid and he hips them to some other locations in the area that were used. Along the way, at both sites, Mayans tells some great stories about working with Franco and shares some keen memories from his time spent working with the man. Great stuff, just like all the other entries in this series have been.

    The second extra is Bay Of Jess, which is a piece where Thrower talks about the film itself for nineteen-minutes. Here he speaks about Franco using money from Golden Films for other projects for Manacoa productions given that Franco and Mayans were having trouble getting what they were owed by Golden Films. He talks about how some of the Manacoa films were 'mopping up' projects he couldn't get off the ground with other producers, how Franco sold films to producers after shooting twenty-minutes of footage and showing it to them, how 1984 was a 'tough year' for Franco as his filmmaking preference for erotic films as well as horror film diminishing and he had to shift for commercial reasons. As the talk covers the films that Franco managed to both start and finish during this period, Franco's working almost entirely in Spain, the themes that this particular film explores as well as some of the other films from this era and how they relate to Franco's life and career, the cast that Franco works with in the picture, some of the more intricate details of the plot and more.

    Menus and chapter selection are also included and a Severin Films catalogue is also tucked away inside the black Blu-ray case.

    Bahía blanca – The Final Word:

    Bahía blanca sees Franco trying something different, and mostly succeeding! It’s an interesting mystery, featuring good performances from a solid cast and making use of some beautiful locations and excellent cinematography. Severin Films brings this legitimately obscure entry in the director’s huge filmography to Blu-ray in a decent presentation and with two interesting featurettes to document the film’s history and that of the man who made it.

    Note that was of right now this limited edition release is only available directly from Severin Films between June 26th and June 29th, 2020.

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