Monday, December 28, 2015

What Have You Done to Solange? (1972, Massimo Dallamano)

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Another classic Italian giallo from the saviors at Arrow Films, you say? SIGN ME UP! What Have You Done to Solange? is a film I watched several years ago in the throws of giallo passion, but for some reason remembered almost nothing about. So Arrow's new release couldn't have come at a better time for me to become reacquainted with this rough slice of celluloid. The fact it is from Massimo Dallamano, the cinematographer for A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More and director of much loved (by me) classics as Colt 38 Special Squad, Super Bitch (it's better than it sounds) and The Secret of Dorian Gray, I definitely knew I wanted to see it again. Oh and Fabio Testi, one of my favorite Italian actors. I could go on....and I will.
In What Have You Done to Solange?, Mr. Testi plays Enrico, a married gym teacher at a private girl's high school who is messing around with Elizabeth (Cristina Galbo), one of his students. After Elizabeth witnesses a murder, the two try to figure out the killer's identity while trying not to get caught by Enrico's wife. All the while, the killer begins targeting a group of girls at the school and murdering them in the same gruesome way.
What Have You Done to Solange? is a well made, yet fairly graphic example of the giallo genre. Not only do we see full frontal nudity but the method the killer uses is itself pretty extreme. The film takes its time to get going, but I didn't find myself bored at all, thanks to the plot's twists and turns. The cast are all great and it was interesting to see a young Camille Keaton (I Spit on Your Grave) as the mysterious Solange. Arrow's new DVD/Blu Ray combo does the film justice with a pristine transfer and lots of great supplements. If you are a giallo, Italian film, horror or exploitation fan, you shouldn't be disappointed by this film. Hopefully those that may have missed Solange in the past will give it the exposure it deserves.
Bonus Features include:
-Brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative
-High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
-Original Italian and English soundtracks in mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
-Newly translated subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
-Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
-Brand new audio commentary with critics Alan Jones and Kim Newman
-Newly filmed cast interviews
-Original Theatrical Trailer
-Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by MALLEUS www.malleusdelic.com (to be revealed)
-Booklet featuring brand new writing on the film, illustrated with original stills
Purchase this film directly from MVD HERE




Friday, December 11, 2015

Wake Up and Kill (1966, Carlo Lizzani)

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New from Arrow Films is another obscure classic from the Italian crime genre - Wake Up and Kill (Svegliati e uccidi). Not really a polizioteschi, more of a violent docu-drama, but still a wonderful slice of 60's Spaghetti action. Directed by Carlo Lizzani (Requiescant), this film pre-dates many of the classic Italian crime films that came after, but no doubt features lots of what makes them great.
Wake Up and Kill stars "Alain Delon-lookalike" Robert Hoffman (who I recently watched in Umberto Lenzi's trippy giallo Spasmo) as Luciano Lutring, a small time jewelry thief who, despite his hot temper, can't seem to get caught. He falls for a night club singer (Lisa Gastoni) who desperately tries to change him, but still supports him even when he becomes headline news. Luciano has to flea the country and ends up entangled with other groups of criminals who use his infamy to their advantage.
Wake Up and Kill is quite different than what I was expecting. Missing is the bloody violence, scantily clad women and simple story of your typical Italian Crime film. This one is far more dramatic, with complicated characters and a gripping story. If I had to compare this to one other film, I would compare it to the Giuliano Carnimeo's Secrets of a Call Girl, which was far deeper and character driven than I expected. I might even compare it to Lizzani's own early Bandits in Milan, which itself had a pseudo documentary feel (though much more pronounced). The cast here, especially Hoffman, Gastoni and one of my favorites Gian Maria Volonte (as the cop who tries to help Lutring's wife bring him in) are very convincing and carry the admittedly long running time (over 2 hours). I should also mention another great performance in Claudio Camaso (ne' Volonte - Gian Maria's brother) who plays Gastoni's ex flame and thorn in Lutring's side. Also worth mentioning is a classic score by the great Ennio Morriccone.
As with all of Arrow's releases I have seen, this release is nothing short of spectacular with two cuts of the film and a wealth of extras. Amazing for such and obscure film, but one that deserves it nonetheless. Full list of Extras are:
-Brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative
-High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray and Standard Definition DVD presentations of two versions of the film: the original full-length Italian release, and the shortened English-language cut
-Italian and English soundtracks in uncompressed PCM mono sound on the respective versions of the film
-Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian version
-Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English cut
-Theatrical trailer
-Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Reinhard Kleist
Purchase Wake Up and Kill directly from MVD HERE




Monday, December 7, 2015

Requiescant (1967, Carlo Lizzani)

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Arrow Films, the leading purveyor of classic, cult and foreign films is back with another lost gem from one of my favorite genres - The Spaghetti Western. Requiescant is another film I had never heard of, but much like Day of Anger, soon after viewing moved to the top of my list of favorites of the genre.
Requiescant (which is part of the latin phrase "Requiescant in Pace" or Rest in Peace) tells the story of a young Mexican boy who witnesses his village massacred by the rich tyrant George Ferguson (Mark Damon). The boy is taken in by a preacher and his family and grows up with his step sister Princy. When Princy runs off to join a traveling theater, he promises to get her back. He finds Princy, who has become a prostitute, and becomes entangled with her pimps, who just happen to work for Ferguson. After being dubbed Requiescant, he has to use his cunning wits and his expert shooting skills to find a way to exact his revenge.
Requiescant has everything I love about the best Spaghetti Westerns - a quiet hero, a lot of gun play and an actual story. So many Spag Westerns suffer from being boring and Requiescant fortunately kept me interested from start to finish. Lou Castel (who I was familiar with from another classic Spaghetti Western - Damiano Damiani's A Bullet for the General) was perfect as Reqiescant and frequent star of many Italian films Mark Damon was very entertaining as the slightly mad Ferguson. Also included in the cast are famed Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini as a priest and two of his frequent stars Franco Citti and Nino Davoli. I really hope Arrow continues to release Spaghetti Westerns because so far their track record is perfect.
Arrow's release of Requiescant is another well put together, essential Blu Ray/DVD combo featuring a beautiful print and a bevy of extras. Bonus Features include:
-Brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative
-High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
-Optional English and Italian soundtracks in uncompressed PCM mono audio
-Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
-Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
-An all-new interview with Lou Castel, recorded exclusively for this release
-Archive interview with director Carlo Lizzani
-Theatrical Trailer
-Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx
-Illustrated collector's booklet containing new writing on the film by Pasquale Iannone
Purchase Requiescant directly from MVD HERE