• Forgotten Gialli Volume Three (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review



    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: February 23rd, 2021.
    Director: Armando Crispino/Francisco Lara Polop/Filippo Walter Ratti
    Cast: Mimsy Farmer, Barry Primus, Ray Lovelock, Gaby Wagner, Evelyn Stewart, Analía Gadé, Lisa Leonardi, Andrés Resino, Yelena Samarina, Corrado Gaipa, Roberto Zattini, Isabelle Marchall, Annie Carol Edel
    Year: 1975/1972/1977
    Purchase From Amazon

    Forgotten Gialli Volume Three – Movie Review:

    Vinegar Syndrome delivers another trio of ‘forgotten gialli’ in their third boxed set collection.

    Autopsy:

    Directed by Armando Crispino in 1975, Autopsy opens when a rash of unexplained suicides plagues the city of Rome. The corpses are taken to the city morgue where a researcher named Simona Sanna (Mimsy Farmer) is working on her thesis. As Simona comes into contact with these corpses, she has strange hallucinations where they come back to life, one couple even going so far as to have sex on one of the gurneys!

    Simona is involved with a photographer/race car driver named Ed (Ray Lovelock) but soon gets pulled into a mystery involving the death of her father’s mistress, a beautiful woman named Betty (Gaby Wagner). When her brother, a former race car driver turned priest named Father Paul Lenox (Barry Primus) arrives in Rome, he starts leaning on Simona to help him solve the case, believing that she didn’t die by her own hand. This, of course, leads to talks with Simona’s father, a wealthy and lecherous businessman (Massimo Serato), as people around him seem to drop dead with increasing frequency.

    As seriously strange as it is remarkably effective, Autopsy (also known as The Victim) is an atypical giallo but a gripping thriller nonetheless. Set to a fantastic score from Ennio Morricone, director Armando Crispino uses a mix of interesting and sometimes surreal visuals and deliberate but increasingly tense pacing to tell a genuinely intriguing story. A couple of goofy looking ‘dummy deaths’ aside, the production values are pretty strong across the board, and the use of some very realistic looking corpse photography throughout the film gives the film a decidedly dark and occasionally quite morbid edge. Add to this some interesting location work (a scene that takes place in an art gallery dedicated to death and suicide stands out) Autopsy scores high marks across the board.

    As to the performances? Mimsy Farmer is quite good here. As her hallucinations begin to affect her personal life she plays her part with believable confusion and frustration. Her unique looks give her character a fragility that suits the story nicely and she has good chemistry with the rest of the cast. Lovelock is pretty charismatic here, playing the freewheeling boyfriend pretty well while Barry Primus is really solid as the priest, bringing the appropriate amount of weight to the role to make it work.

    Murder Mansion:

    A frequent staple of bootleg and ‘public domain’ releases over the years, Francisco Lara Polop's 1972 picture Murder Mansion makes its official debut on disc with this release from Vinegar Syndrome.

    Directed by Francisco Lara Polop, the movie begins when Laura (Lisa Leonardi, credited as Anna Lisa Nardi) accepts a ride with a man in Mustang named Mr. Porter (Franco Fantasia). It turns out he wants something in return from her, so when they stop at a restaurant she takes off with a cool biker named Fred (Andrés Resino) who is on his way to Milan. As they make their way through a fog covered valley, they lose their way and end up taking shelter at a remote mansion. Inside, they find Porter and two other couples, well to do Elsa (Analía Gadé) and Ernest (Alberto Dalbés) and their friends/business associates, the Tremonts (Eduard Fajardo and Yelena Samarina).

    The house turns out to be owned by the lovely but mysterious Martha Clinton (Evelyn Stewart), who is happy to put them up for the night and explains the weird paintings in her not so humble abode by telling her new guests that they once belonged to her long dead aunt. As the night goes on, stories about Clinton’s aunt and her deceased chauffeur appear to be more than simple ghost stories as people start turning up dead, Elsa starts to lose her mind and both Fred and Laura try to figure out how to get out of this place alive.

    This movie might not always make a whole lot of sense but it’s a pretty entertaining watch regardless. Rife with plenty of impressive gothic atmosphere, there are large stretches of the picture that don’t particularly feel like a giallo picture but it gets close enough at times that we won’t complain too much. The photography is excellent across the board and the creepy old mansion setting, with its eerie dungeon-esque basement, really is the perfect place to stage a horror picture.

    Far less salacious than the other two pictures in the collection, there isn’t a whole lot of bloodshed here and there’s no nudity at all, but the picture moves at a pretty nice clip and makes good use of a strong soundtrack. Performances are pretty decent, with Evelyn Stewart stealing the show as the woman of the house.

    Crazy Desires Of A Murderer:

    Making its home video debut with this release is Filippo Walter Ratti’s 1977 picture, Crazy Desires Of A Murderer. Alternately known as The Morbid Vices Of A Housekeeper, this is by far the most obscure of the offerings in this collection.

    The film opens with a great scene where a man with blood on his hands prowls about an old castle. From here, we meet the beautiful Countess Ileana De Chablais (Isabelle Marchall), who returns to the castle after some travel, where her wheelchair-bound (and possibly psychic!) father and younger brother still live. Once back in the family home, Ileana receives a visit from some old friends, many of whom are mixed up in various criminal dealings. Soon after, one of those friends, Elsa (Patrizia Gori), is found murdered on the property, her eyes gouged out of her head!

    An inspector (Corrado Gaipa) is called in to investigate the case and suspicion soon falls on her brother, whose weird interest in taxidermy makes him an easy mark. As the inspector goes about his business trying to solve the case, the killer strikes a few more times, leaving him in a race against time to wrap all of this up before the murderer runs out of victims entirely!

    A reasonably wacky film, Crazy Desires Of A Murderer is pretty good stuff. It’s an entertaining picture that offers up some decent suspense, a few memorable murder set pieces and some reasonably graphic nudity to ensure that its exploitation quotient remains higher than average throughout. Directed by Filippo Walter Ratti, this film may not turn the genre on its head or anything, but it mostly hits all of the right notes when you want it to.

    The performances, if never amazing, are more than good even if most of the characters are unlikeable jerks, often times out to do one another in for profit for sex. The cinematography is really strong here. The castle setting is a great spot for all of this to unfold and the film makes good use of close up shots to build suspense and drama alike. The score is also really strong, heightening tension as you’d hope, and generally just sounding really cool. The film also makes great use of color throughout, with a fair amount of garish seventies fashions on display, complimented by some equally garish home décor selections.

    Forgotten Gialli Volume Three – Blu-ray Review:

    The three films in this collection are presented as follows:

    Autopsy: is presented "newly scanned & restored in 2k from its 35mm original camera negative" in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. The feature takes up 31.9GBs of space on the 50GB disc and it generally looks quite nice. There are some scratches here and there and a few spots where maybe the colors have faded just a bit but detail is strong and there’s good depth and texture noticeable throughout. There aren’t any problems with noise reduction, compression artifacts or edge enhancement to complain about, the picture is always very film-like.

    Murder Mansion: is presented "newly scanned & restored in 4k from its 35mm original camera negative" in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. Taking up 27.9GBs of space on a 50GB disc, the transfer looks much better than the aforementioned bootleg releases that have made the rounds over the years – you can actually tell what’s happening in the darker scenes now, though there is some banding and trailing in the really foggy scenes. Minor print damage shows up here and there but it’s mainly just small white specks and the like. Detail is pretty solid and the picture stays nice and filmic throughout the duration of the movie.

    Crazy Desires Of A Murderer: is presented "newly scanned & restored in 4k from its 35mm original camera negative" in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen with the feature given 23.4GBs of space on a 25GB disc. There’s a bit of noticeable print damage during the opening and closing credits but the vast majority of the movie looks very clean otherwise. Detail is strong, colors are nicely reproduced and we get strong black levels. Flesh tones look accurate and there are no problems with compression or DNR.

    Audio options for the films are:

    Autopsy: 24-bit DTS-HD Mono options are offered in English and Italian language options with English SDH subtitles included that translate each track separately. The Italian track sounds a bit cleaner and clearer than the English mix but both tracks are clean, clear and properly balanced and there are no issues with any noticeable hiss or distortion. There is an amusing typo in the subtitles though where ‘tests’ is misspelled as ‘testes.’ Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono tracks are also provided in English and Italian.

    Murder Mansion: This disc includes the ‘original’ Spanish language soundtrack with new English translations, as well as the English and Italian language dubs (Italian dub is not translated), all in 24-bit DTS-HD Mono. All three tracks sound decent enough but the Spanish track is the cleanest sounding of the three. Either way, no problems here (though the timing on the English subtitles for the Spanish track is off at times), the levels are balanced well and while there is some flatness here and there, overall the audio is fine. Again, Dolby Digital Mono tracks are also provided in the same three languages.

    Crazy Desires Of A Murderer: The main audio option for the last film in the set is a 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track in Italian with optional subtitles offered up in English only. An alternate Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track is also provided, again, in Italian. The lossless track sounds pretty nice, it’s balanced and while there is a little bit of sibilance here and there, overall it sounds fine.

    Extras are laid out as follows:

    Autopsy:

    Extras on the first disc start off with an archival theatrical introduction with director Armando Crispino, a five-minute piece recorded at a screening of the film where a moderator discusses with the director about the film's distribution and marketing (and how Titanus gave viewers masks to use to hide from the horror), the inspiration for the film, working on the script and more.

    Editing & Rhythm is an interview with editor Daniele Alabiso that clocks in at twelve-minutes in length. This piece covers the rhythm of the film, what it was like working with Crispino, the importance of calculating the impact of certain scenes, cutting both Autopsy and Commando (the Lee Van Cleef movie), the importance of getting the editing on Autopsy's opening just right and more.

    The Autopsy Papers is an interview with Francesco Crispino, film historian and son of director Armando Crispino that runs ten-minutes. In this piece, Francesco goes over the different version of the script that his father had worked on in the years before starting the actual shoot. He goes over some of the differences in plot and character as well as the different titles that were toyed with during the writing phase. He also goes over the English script, the timing of Morricone's work on the picture, and reviews different production notes that his father made while working on the movie.

    Black Hole Sun is a featurette on the career of director Armando Crispino that again interviews Francesco Crispino. In this thirty-nine-minute piece we learn about his father's early days in the film industry, how he got into making genre pictures, his family history, details on casting Autopsy (Farmer was a friend of a friend), the inspiration for Autopsy, his father's thoughts on film criticism, his collaborations with writer Lucio Battistrada, the giallo boom and its effect on his father's output, the transformative qualities of Italian politics of the mid-seventies, the influence of the Vietnam War on some of his father's work and quite a bit more.

    The disc also contains the alternate Italian titles and credits, an original theatrical trailer under the alternate title of The Victim as well as menus and chapter options.

    Murder Mansion:

    Lady Of The Mansion is an interview with actress Ida Galli (a.k.a. Evelyn Stewart) that clocks in at twenty-minutes. In this featurette she talks about how she wound up working on the film, how it was an Italian/Spanish co-production, how she was at the height of her career when this picture was made thanks to the popularity of a few other giallo films she'd been involved with, her thoughts on her character, how much she liked working with Francisco Lara Polop, what it was like shooting on location in Spain, shooting the film with the English language market in mind, having to get fit for a plaster casting and quite a bit more.

    Crazy Desires Of A Murderer:

    Crazy Memories Of An Actor is a fifteen-minute interview with actor Giuseppe Colombo where he covers his work both as an actor and as a film producer, his thoughts on the movie itself, how the director relied too much on his director of photography, the low budget nature of the production, his thoughts on the different cast members he acted alongside, his background in theater, the locations that were used for the shoot and more.

    Special mention should also be made of the packaging for this release. All three films get their own clear plastic Blu-ray case and those cases in turn slip inside a beautiful, and sturdy, box that opens from the top to allow the cases to slide in. It’s similar to how Vinegar Syndrome packaged their recent Angel and Amityville collections and it’s one of those things that just make their releases that much nicer. It’s also worth pointing out that each of the three films gets some nice reversible cover sleeve art as well.

    Forgotten Gialli Volume Three – The Final Word:

    Vinegar Syndrome’s Forgotten Gialli Volume Three Blu-ray collection is another strong entry in their ongoing series. All three films are worth seeing and they’re presented in very nice condition and with some decent extra features as well. Highly recommended.

    Click on the images below for full-sized Forgotten Gialli Volume Three screen caps!

























































































    Comments 11 Comments
    1. Andrew Monroe's Avatar
      Andrew Monroe -
      The creepy chauffeur really makes an impression (even if he looks like he belongs in a different film) in MURDER MANSION. Tons of great atmosphere in the film.

      I'm hoping I'll enjoy CRAZY DESIRES.. more this time.
    1. Raf A.'s Avatar
      Raf A. -
      Have VS botched subtitles on this release too like what they did with Vol 2? Waiting for that info before placing an order.
    1. Matt H.'s Avatar
      Matt H. -
      Quote Originally Posted by Raf A. View Post
      Have VS botched subtitles on this release too like what they did with Vol 2? Waiting for that info before placing an order.
      This was mentioned in the Mondo Digital review re: Murder Mansion: Unfortunately, as with the earlier Blu-ray of My Dear Killer, a lot of the subtitles are timed far too fast to read.
    1. Raf A.'s Avatar
      Raf A. -
      Quote Originally Posted by Matt H. View Post
      This was mentioned in the Mondo Digital review re: Murder Mansion: Unfortunately, as with the earlier Blu-ray of My Dear Killer, a lot of the subtitles are timed far too fast to read.
      Thank you very much, I missed Mondo's review somehow. Guess I'll wait for future releases of these films by a competent label knowing what they are doing. VS
    1. Andrew Monroe's Avatar
      Andrew Monroe -
      I honestly didn't have a problem with the subs being too fast on MURDER MANSION, and that's something I'm usually pretty sensitive to.
    1. demofob's Avatar
      demofob -
      Quote Originally Posted by Raf A. View Post
      Thank you very much, I missed Mondo's review somehow. Guess I'll wait for future releases of these films by a competent label knowing what they are doing. VS
      You will wait a very long time.
    1. Raf A.'s Avatar
      Raf A. -
      Quote Originally Posted by demofob View Post
      You will wait a very long time.
      Better wait than to give my hard earned to incompetent labels.
    1. demofob's Avatar
      demofob -
      Quote Originally Posted by Raf A. View Post
      Better wait than to give my hard earned to incompetent labels.
      Is Vinegar incompetent? It's funny.
    1. Raf A.'s Avatar
      Raf A. -
      Quote Originally Posted by demofob View Post
      Is Vinegar incompetent? It's funny.
      Laugh.
    1. Nabonga's Avatar
      Nabonga -
      Binged the box last night. Didn't have any issues with reading the subtitles. Fun, entertaining movies. Murder Mansion especially kicked ass! Sooo cool. I'd like to se Black Belly Of The Tarantula and Sex Of The Witch in any possible future box sets.
    1. BW Haggar's Avatar
      BW Haggar -
      I also watched 'Murder Mansion' last night and really enjoyed it. Curiously low on sex n' violence given the production year, but has some great pulp/comic book atmos to enjoy and is pretty imaginatively shot/directed. Giombini's music rules too.

      Didn't have any problem with the subtitling at all. Maybe timed *slightly* too quickly in some of the early scenes, but it matches the tempo of the on-screen dialogue and is all clearly readable; really a very minor issue which shouldn't effect anyone's enjoyment of the film.