Whip and the Body/Conspiracy of Torture
This DVD set contains 2 films Mario Bava's Whip and the Body, and Lucio Fulci's Conspiracy of Torture(Beatrice Cenci). Whip and the Body has had a prior Region 1 release via VCI, this is the first time Conspiracy of Torture has been released stateside, I believe in any form. The DVD comes courtesy of Midnight Choir, who have also just released a Barbara Steele double feature disc featuring An Angel for Satan and Antonio Margheriti's Long Hair of Death.
Whip and the Body
Mario Bava's Whip and the Body is a gothic psychological thriller starring Christopher Lee as Kurt, the son of a count, who has come home to claim his inheritance. Unfortunately, for Kurt he is not accepted kindly back into the family, and within a day is found to be murdered, and everyone's a suspect. Kurt's death is not a restful one, and his ghost comes back to haunt his former lover (and his brother's wife) Nevenka.
The Whip and the Body takes elements of Mario Bava's gothic horror films, and mixes them with the conventions of a suspenseful psychological thriller. This is my first viewing of Whip and the Body, and I was glued to my seat for the duration. Not only is the film completely engaging, but it one of Mario Bava's best looking films. I truly regret not seeing this sooner.
Conspiracy of Torture
The Conspiracy of Torture can pretty much be considered a hidden masterpiece by director Lucio Fulci who is much better known for his gialli from the early 70's, and his zombie films of the early 80's. The Conspiracy of Torture (referenced from now on as Beatrice Cenci) is a extremely well plotted historical drama.
The film is set in the 16th century, and concerns itself with the daughter of noblemen, Beatrice Cenci. Beatrice is unhappy with her life in her Father's home, as he frequently physically, and sexually abuses her. The only person that makes her happy is her families manservant Olimpio (Tomas Milian).
When Beatrice announces her desire to join a convent her Father locks her in a dungeon, where he continues his abuse. Having had enough, Beatrice conspires with her Mother and Olimpio to kill her Father. Unfortunately, they are caught and (in the case of Beatrice and Olimpio) are tortured. Olimpio confesses, and the family is set to be executed.
This film is an extremely subtle film from Fulci, who reveals the story of Beatrice in a series of flashbacks. Beatrice Cenci also does not display the trademark violence Fulci was known for, and aside from a few scenes of torture, and the death of the father the violence is pretty non-existent. This is not a mark against the film, as I would put this pretty close to the top of Fulci's best films.
The Whip and the Body and Beatrice Cenci are presented in a 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Both films look amazing, aside from some moderate grain, and compression artifacts that are most noticible in some of the darker scenes. Also, there appears to be a slight framing issue with Beatrice Cenci, that becomes apparent during the opening credit sequence.
The audio is presented in Dolby digital mono in English. Both films sound clear, and the track is devoid of any distortion. The audio is not perfect, but works for both films as everything at the very least is audible.
The extras on this disc are limited to the theatrical trailers for both films.
Midnight Choir has done a great service to horror fans by bringing these 2 Italian classics to DVD. The transfer for the most part are excellent, and while the DVD lacks any substantial extras, fans should be pleased just to have a solid Region 1 release of both films.