(aka "Death's Ecstacy" or "The Beast" or "The Beast in Heat" )

directed by Walerian Borowczyk
France 1975

Lucy Broadhurst (Sirpa Lane), an heiress betrothed to the son of an impoverished Marquis, arrives at the family's crumbling chateau and learns of a mythical ursine beast purported to prowl the nearby forest. It is fabled that a former lady of the house (Hummel) once engaged in coitus with the creature and Lucy finds herself consumed by dreams of the incident.

Perverse yet compelling, one can see why alarm bells reverberated through the corridors of the BBFC back in 1975, when the "C" still stood for Censorship. However, that it took over a quarter of a century for this minor French erotic masterpiece to appear in its uncut form is preposterous. Sure, there's implied bestiality, assault and perversion in the priesthood, copious fake ejaculate smeared on bared breasts, masturbation with a rose and, most graphic of all, the eponymous beast toying with a phallus so phenomenal that even John Holmes would blush. Yet it's all so inoffensive, over-the-top to the point of comic lunacy in fact, that one can only pity the po-faced collective that must have haunted the BBFC back in the 70s. Shots of Lisbeth Hummel losing her clothes as she's chased through the woods by the hirsute beastie (basically a man in a cheap-looking bear suit) echo the saucy postcard antics of Benny Hill.

There's more than a snifter of Carry On country manor farce to the proceedings too, with a collection of characters that includes a dissolute priest (Roland Armontel), a nymphomaniac daughter (Pascale Rivault), a dullard son (Pierre Benedetti), an over-sexed footman (Hassane Falle), a dotty uncle (Marcel Dalio) and a starchy patriarch (Guy Tréjan) trying to maintain a facade of normality so as not to scare off their meal-ticket. And the final revelation of the son's dark genetic secret is a 24-carat howler.

Excerpt of review from Tim Greaves at Noises-online located HERE

Poster + Alternate DVD Cover

Theatrical Release: August 20th, 1975 - France

Reviews    More Reviews    DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison:

Cult Epics (Director's Cut) - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Cult Epics (Complete Version) - Region 0 - NTSC  vs. Nouveau Pictures - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Per-Olaf Strandberg for all the screen captures!

(Cult Epics (Director's Cut) - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT vs. Cult Epics (Complete Version) - Region 0 - NTSC MIDDLE vs. Nouveau Pictures - Region 2 - PAL RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Cult Epics (3 disc) - Disc 1- Director's Cut - Disc 2 - Extras - Disc 3 - Complete Version  Region 0  - NTSC

Nouveau Pictures
Region 2 - PAL
Runtime 1:34:09 (taken from PAL source) 1:38.00 (taken from PAL source) 1:34:02 (4% PAL speed-up)
Video

1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

Audio French (with some English) DD 2.0 MONO and English DD 2.0 MONO French (with some English) DD 2.0 MONO

French (some English) DD 2.0 MONO

Subtitles English, none Forced English subs (also on the English speaking parts) English (forced)
Features Release Information:
Studio: Cult Epics

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.66:1

Edition Details:

DISC 1 - Director's Cut:


• Theatrical trailer 3:28 Optically censored
• Stills (16)

 

DISC 2:

• Biographie (Silent Show real) 5:17
• Interview (French with optional English subs) 7:49
• The Beast-bis (Making-off). 16mm archive footage l without any sound
1:45:30

• Stills (17)

 

DISC 3:

Complete version ->

DVD Release Date: November 16th, 2004
Double Keep Case

Chapters 18

Release Information:
Studio: Cult Epics

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen  - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
DISC 1 - Director's Cut:

<-

 

DISC 2:

• Biographies (Silent Show real) 5:17
• Interview (French with optional English subs) 7:49
• The Beast-bis (Making-off). 16mm archive footage l without any sound
1:45:30

• Stills (17)

 

DISC 3: Complete version

• Lobby cards (11)
 

DVD Release Date: November 16th, 2004
Double Keep Case

Chapters 18

 

Release Information:
Studio:
Nouveau Pictures

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.66:1

Edition Details:

• La Marêe (The Tide). This is the first story from IMMORAL TALES. It's a direct port from the Anchor Bay DVD, and are converted from NTSC to PAL. French with Burnt-in English subs. Length: 21.03
• Picture gallery (11 photos)
• Filmography


DVD Release Date: November 19th, 2001

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 12

 

COMMENTS

Both DVDs have the same original uncut 98 minute version (4 % PAL speed-up). The Nouveaux (R2) seems to be taken direct from a cinema print. There are some minor scratches and dirt, but the main problem is that the black scenes are blocked, with a lack off details! It seems also a little bit to blue.
The Cult Epic versions is apparently taken from a new 35 mm inter-positive print. The color timing is made for TV/DVD source. Here the black color has much more information and the look is very "cinema" like. The misfortune with the Cult Epic DVD is that it's taken from a PAL source, and there is a lot of ghosting. This doesn't disturb so much in motion. The colors seems to be more warm and looks correct.
Even tough these two DVD's are quite similar, the favor goes for the Cult Epic picture, even though it has ghosting.
Compared with the "complete version" , it looks as both DVD's are cropped a little. Cult Epic from the bottom, and Nouveaux from the top. The "complete version" is cropped from both sides. The film is not made in 16-mm as IMDb states. On the documentary footage you can see that they have used a 35 mm Panavision camera. Maybe shot in Open matte?

The Sound:
Both editions have the original mono sound. The Cult Epic have more dynamic sound, where the Nouveaux feels a little bit narrow and boxed!
The Cult Epic DVD has also an optional English dub.

The Extras:
The Nouveaux picture (R2) actually don't haven any extras on it.
The short film La Marée, is the first episode from the film IMMORTAL TALES. It's a direct copy from the NTSC Anchor Bay DVD, and it suffers from bad picture quality, burnt-in subtitles and it's taken from a NTSC source. There's a lot of ghosting in it!
The other extra is a filmography and 11 still photos.
It's hard to judge the Cult Epic's extra material, when they have tried to put so much effort in it!
The best in the extras are a 52 paged book, with color photos from the film.
Every disc have a mixed amount of photos, production stills, lobby cards etc
Disc 2 contains a 5:17 minutes biography of Walerian Borowczyk. A silent show reel with stills and articles of his carrier. Then there is a new 7:49 minutes interview and 1:45:30 minutes of total silent 16 mm "making-off" material. This is like watching someone's home movies. It's a pity there's not included a commentary track. I watched it with 8 x speed.
Disc 3 includes a Dutch "Complete version" off the film, discovered in 1990. These approx. 102 minute version (4 % PAL speed-up) is taken from a poor quality video tape. The Dutch subtitles are hidden with extensive black bars.
It's unclear for me, the purpose off these version. Is it a last editing table version or a European cinema version. Considering the huge amount of dirt and projection scratches, it has for certainly been showed in a cinema. The difference with these two versions is not noticeable. It's like the shorter versions is the final version, and the cuts are made to speed-up the rhythm of the film. They have for example shortened the scene where the girl run's away from the Beast with over two minutes. The cuts are more like they have taken away some picture pairs. The girl runs a shorter time, the Beast ejaculates one time less etc.
The picture quality in these version is poor, but it can be seen in a normal TV quite satisfyingly.

Final comments:
The Cult Epic version is the best version so far, it's nice packed and the price is less than the UK version! The choice is easy!
 

 - Per-olaf Strandberg


 

 



DVD Menus

(Cult Epics (Director's Cut) - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT vs. Cult Epics (Complete Version) - Region 0 - NTSC MIDDLE vs. Nouveau Pictures - Region 2 - PAL
RIGHT)


 

 

 

 

Disc 2 of Cult Epic Release:

 

 

 


 

Screen Captures

(Cult Epics (Director's Cut) - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Cult Epics (Complete Version) - Region 0 - NTSC MIDDLE vs. Nouveau Pictures - Region 2 - PAL BOTTOM)


 


(Cult Epics (Director's Cut) - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Cult Epics (Complete Version) - Region 0 - NTSC MIDDLE vs. Nouveau Pictures - Region 2 - PAL BOTTOM)

 


 

(Cult Epics (Director's Cut) - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Cult Epics (Complete Version) - Region 0 - NTSC MIDDLE vs. Nouveau Pictures - Region 2 - PAL BOTTOM)

 

 


(Cult Epics (Director's Cut) - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Cult Epics (Complete Version) - Region 0 - NTSC MIDDLE vs. Nouveau Pictures - Region 2 - PAL BOTTOM)

 

 


 

(Cult Epics (Director's Cut) - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Cult Epics (Complete Version) - Region 0 - NTSC MIDDLE vs. Nouveau Pictures - Region 2 - PAL BOTTOM)

 

 


(Cult Epics (Director's Cut) - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Cult Epics (Complete Version) - Region 0 - NTSC MIDDLE vs. Nouveau Pictures - Region 2 - PAL BOTTOM)

 


 

(Cult Epics (Director's Cut) - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Cult Epics (Complete Version) - Region 0 - NTSC MIDDLE vs. Nouveau Pictures - Region 2 - PAL BOTTOM)

 

 


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Report Card:

 

Image:

Cult Epics

Sound:

Cult Epics

Extras: Cult Epics
Menu: Nouveau Pictures

DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Cult Epics (3 disc) - Disc 1- Director's Cut - Disc 2 - Extras - Disc 3 - Complete Version  Region 0  - NTSC

Nouveau Pictures
Region 2 - PAL




 


 

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