• Ballad In Blood (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: November 26th, 2021.
    Director: Ruggero Deodato
    Cast: Rebecca Di Maio, Roger Garth, Ernesto Mahieux, Carlotta Morelli, Gabriele Rossi, Noemi Smorra
    Year: 2016
    Purchase From Severin Films

    Ballad In Blood – Movie Review:

    The first feature to be directed by the legendary, notorious Ruggero Deodato in more than twenty years, 2016’s Ballad In Blood is loosely based (maybe ‘inspired by’ would be a better term) on the Amanda Knox/Meredith Kercher case that was as bit of a media sensation back in 2007 when it played out on the news on an international level.

    The story, in the filmed version at least, opens with a Halloween party, a bit of a rager really, somewhere in Italy. The next morning, a drug dealer named Duke (Edward Williams), his pal Jacopo (Gabriele Rossi) and Jacopo’s girlfriend Lenka (Carlotta Morelli) wake up, if not still drunk at least extremely hungover, the place, Lenka’s apartment, a mess from everything that went down the night before. It isn’t long before they realize that their friend Elizabeth (Noemi Smorra), who was recording a lot of what was going on that night using her smartphone, is dead, her nude corpse showing a very visible slash mark across her throat.

    Clearly not in the best mental or physical shape after a night of outright debauchery, the three do try their best to figure out what happened and how it happened, what to do with body and the footage on her smartphone. That more or less takes up the rest of the movie (the party taking up a large part of the first half). Meanwhile, an associate named Leo (Ernesto Mahieux) starts to think that the three of them may have had a hand in killing Elizabeth. Things quickly spiral out of control for all involved.

    Deodato’s return to feature filmmaking is… not his best movie. That said, he loads this thing up with sex and sleaze and violence and degradation in many and varied forms, to the exploitation factor is high. The fact that the very attractive actresses in the cast are frequently naked or partially naked will be a draw for a certain viewing segment (Noemi Smorra is a stone cold fox and Carlotta Morelli is quite the looker as well) but for some viewers that might not make up for the fact that the movie has some obvious pacing problems even with a running time that clocks in at ninety-four minutes (so, more or less average for a feature film).

    This was shot digitally and so it has a cold, almost clinical look to it but the cinematography in the picture is pretty decent. On top of that, Deodato and company recruited none other than Claudio Simonetti to score the picture, and maybe not so surprisingly given that fact the soundtrack for the picture is really solid. The acting isn’t awful, but neither is it amazing. The fact that it’s shot in English actually maybe hurts things a bit, this might have played better had the primarily Italian cast acted in their native tongue. Still, it’s plenty sleazy and over the top, and there’s something to be said for that.

    Ballad In Blood – Blu-ray Review:

    Severin Films brings Ballad In Blood to region free Blu-ray in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.85.1 widescreen with the feature taking up 29GBs of space on the 50GB disc. This was shot digitally so obviously there are no issues with print damage, grain or debris. It looks really sharp, showing nice detail and great color reproduction. Black levels are fine, skin tones look good and compression artifacts are held in check.

    The only audio option on the disc is an English language 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track with optional subtitles provided in English only. Audio quality is fine, the track is clean, clear and properly balanced and as you’d expect from such a recent film, there are no issues with any hiss or distortion to note. Simonetti’s score sounds quite good here.

    Extras start off with a featurette called The Day After, which is an interview with Deodato himself that lasts for twenty-nine minutes. He talks here about the case that inspired the movie, starting his film career outside the horror genre, different adaptations of the case that have happened over the years, wanting to structure the film like Rashomon, using smartphones to replicate the found footage look of Cannibal Holocaust, writing the script at his own pace, getting funding for the picture, hanging out with Quentin Tarantino (this seems very important to him), using Ortolani's music in the film, shooting the film with a smaller cast and modest budget, working with the younger cast members on the picture, shooting the sex scenes in the picture, how the film was received upon release and really what it was like coming back to do a horror feature after years away from the business.

    Up next is Midnight Mass Hysteria, an interview with Nina Burleigh, the author of the “New York Times Bestseller” The Fatal Gift Of Beauty: The Trials Of Amanda Knox. Here, over twenty-five minutes, she goes over the details of the murder of Meredith Kercher and the investigation that surrounded her killing. Amanda Knox was considered the prime suspect, and she talks in-depth about why this is, but we also learn about how Knox and her boyfriend were arrested for the killing, the media flurry that erupted around it, the 'Satanic ritual' aspect that became attached to the case, issues that arose during the investigation of the case, law suits that came out of it and the final court case that resulted in convictions based on some fairly tricky police work. If you watch one extra on this disc, make sure it's this one, it's fascinating.

    It Happened In Perugia is an interview with film historian Fabio Melelli that runs for twenty-one minutes. He also goes over the real life case that inspired the movie, the town where it all happened, his thoughts on the different people involved in the case, Knox's online behavior and why it was cause for concern, details on the case that arose from the killing, details on the trial that took place and how it all played out.

    Actress Noemi Smorra shows up in a new interview titled Things To Do In Perugia When You're Dead. This piece runs for twenty minutes and it goes over how she came to appear in the film, her thoughts on her character, knowing Deodato's work from Cannibal Holocaust, meeting the director for the first time, her knowledge of the case that inspired the film, her personal connection to some of the locations used in the movie, acting in some of the more extreme sequences in the picture and what that was like and what she's been doing professionally since the movie was made.

    A Maestro At Work gets executive producer Raffaele Mertes in front of the camera for ten minutes. He talks about getting hired to work on and earlier Deodato film, getting to know him personally, his thoughts on the project overall, helping to film some specific scenes, what Deodato was like on set, the rushed four week shooting schedule, his thoughts on the performances in the film, the many nude scenes in the film and a fair bit more.

    The Behind The Scenes segment is eighteen minutes of fly on the wall style BTS material compiled while the movie was being shot. We get a chance to see Deodato and the rest of the cast and crew at work, some of the key scenes being staged and what it was like on the set during the shoot.

    Rounding out the extras are two trailers, menus and chapter selection options.

    Ballad In Blood – The Final Word:

    Ballad In Blood is pretty trashy stuff, Deodato clearly more interested in exploitation than in really delving deep into the details of the case that inspired the film. This won’t be the picture he’s remembered for but it is a stylish barrage of tits and gore and Severin has done a really nice job with the Blu-ray release.

    Click on the images below for full sized The Ballad In Blood Blu-ray screen caps!