The Film (5/5)
As a teenager I had seen Mill of the Stone Women as part of a VHS collection of grey market bootleg tapes a friend had acquired. I remember the film's creepy atmosphere, but also remember the quality of the tape being less than stellar and that the film was not done justice by whatever source they had used at the time. It has been almost 20 years since I have given the film a viewing, and Germany's Subkultur Entertainment have given the film its long overdue Blu-ray debut, and as such it was time to revisit.
Mill of the Stone Women follows Hans, a young man who is hired to document the history of a windmill that exist on an island outside of Amsterdam. While there he meets up with a former lover, and rekindles a relationship with her. However, the mill owners daughter similarly begins to seduce him. However, soon after he begins to reject her advances. He is then warned to stay away from both the daughter and the mill, but begins to realize that darker things are afoot.
Mill of the Stone Women is absolutely one of the great Italian gothics of the 1960's, and maybe one of the most vastly underrated (and I am loathe to use that word) of the period. The film feels as strong as some of Bava's most powerful work in the genre.
The film is initially a slow burn, and feels at first like it's going to be a gothic romance film with some moderate chills. This changes about midway through the piece, where it begins to turn into a bizarre delirious piece, that feels pre-psychedelic at times. The pace begins to pick up and the film begins to obtain a certain dreamlike quality. Also, there is a layer of suspense to the actual goings on, that is sure to keep viewers unfamiliar with the narrative on the edge of their seats.
Subkultur's Blu-ray edition of Mill of the Stone Women contain 3 versions of the film. An international version that is dubbed in English, and should be satisfactory to Region A/English friendly viewers looking for an HD version of the film. There are also French and Italian version of the film, they are not English friendly, but contain footage otherwise unseen in the other versions, and I found myself switching between versions after my initial viewing to see what I could of the others knowing the narrative by this point.
All versions of Mill of the Stone Women present on the Subkultur release are presented in a 1:66:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. This isn't a top to bottom restoration, but it looks quite natural and nice. Detail is fine, colors are well reproduced, and in certain sequences pop from the screen, also blacks are decent as well. There is quite a bit of damage from the source material and speckling from time to time, but overall fans of the film should be pleased with the results.
All languages in all versions are presented in DTS-HD MA mono. The English version on the International version was used for my primary viewing and sounded just fine with dialogue and score coming through nicely.
The film has a commentary track in regards to the film. The commentary is in German so I can't speak for it's content. There is also a trailer.
One of the finest of all Italian gothics has finally gotten a solid Blu-ray release. It looks and sounds quite excellent, has multiple versions, and has a limited slate of extras. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.