16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Hands down the best release of Histoires Extraordinaire (Arrow Blu-ray),
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This review is from: Spirits Of The Dead [Blu-ray]  (Blu-ray)
Spirits of the Dead (as AIP re-titled it) is quite an unusual anthology horror movie from the later 60s, featuring three, almost experimental, adaptations of Poe stories from three well known European directors (Vadim, Malle, Fellini respectively). They're not particularly horrifying but there is an air of mystery about them, and they're particularly artistic explorations of Poe's tales of the weird and supernatural. Vadim's story is sexy (featuring Jane Fonda in an array of rather amazing costumes) but somewhat wayward, disjointed and long; Malle's segment is an intriguing look at a sadistic man with an apparent doppelganger that appears whenever his cruel nature reaches excessive heights; Fellini's final piece is a tale about a man who loses his head to the devil (famously showcasing Terence Stamp's convincingly deranged performance as a lost, cynical drunk).
An important film such as this is embellished with a superb transfer for the Arrow Blu-ray Disc - periodically grainy, often exhibiting fantastic clarity. There are a couple of audio language options for each segment and you may wish to flip between these depending on the tale (the first and third tales I believe work better in English due to the fact that the main characters are portrayed by English speaking actors who dubbed their own voices). The fact that Arrow has provided such an array of options is incredibly thoughtful and as a result this release blows the previous video/DVD/laserdisc editions away. The entire French language version is available as a separate entity (can be chosen from the brilliantly designed main menu) but the picture quality is not up the standard of the main presentation (though still probably better than DVD quality), plus the colours are very different. The AIP commissioned Vincent Price voiceover is available as a short extra too.
The main bonus is a 60 page booklet containing reprints of the three Poe stories that make up the film, plus two essays, one of which is the excellent Tim Lucas study of the film (originally from Video Watchdog in the late 90s). The presentation of this book is very professional and grants a great backdrop with which to understand the film. The Blu-ray Disc is encased in a thin Blu-ray case adorned with poster artwork on every side, and the book plus case are housed in a sturdy cardboard outer case making the whole package supremely attractive. Something I'd give 4.5 stars (though the film does take more effort than your average horror), this is an essential buy for fans of historical horror and foreign cinema and Arrow are to be congratulated - hopefully this, along with their other releases this year, is a sign of things to come.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 8 Dec 2010 21:56:15 GMT
Gary Fuhrman says:
Great review. However it did leave out one piece of information vital for us North Americans: is this Blu-ray release region free or not? I've seen rumours that it is, but here on Amazon.uk it's listed as "Region 2". (I thought Blu-ray regions were A, B or C!) Can anyone who's actually bought this verify that it's region free? Thanks --
In reply to an earlier post on 9 Dec 2010 09:10:55 GMT
Thanks for that comment, Gary. If nobody else answers first I'll check my copy when I get back home and answer in a day or so. I'm not sure what Arrow's policy is on regional coding but personally it's been a hinderance for me (there have been several great releases stateside that are coded for the territory). I'm looking at buying a multi-region player early next year hopefully.
Posted on 10 Dec 2010 09:20:19 GMT
Whilst I can only check the disc physically on my Region B (UK) player, I've checked the back of the Arrow packaging for Spirits... and it definitely states "Region A B C". This suggests it'll play on any machine, so I hope you enjoy it if you buy.
In reply to an earlier post on 10 Dec 2010 11:12:58 GMT
Gary Fuhrman says:
Thanks Paul! I've placed my order with Amazon.uk (because the current price here, including shipping from UK to Canada, is much less than any alternative i've seen). I will try to contact Amazon.uk to see if they can change their "product details" -- listing a Blu-ray as "region 2" makes no sense anyway! Then when the disc arrives i'll review it on Amazon.ca. I know a lot of people have been waiting years for a release of Toby Dammit with the original soundtrack.
In reply to an earlier post on 10 Dec 2010 11:18:09 GMT
Last edited by the author on 10 Dec 2010 11:18:57 GMT
Well, the great thing is that there are a couple of language options for each episode so I don't see how anybody has much room for complaint. The complete French language version is there separately (albeit in what looks like SD) for completists too. I agree that the use of 'Region 2' (etc) by sites like Amazon is inappropriate when it comes to Blu-ray and demonstrates a lack of understanding of the technology (as do terms like 'Blu-ray DVD', which gets on my nerves!). Glad I've been of some help anyway.
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