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directed by Peter Del Monte
Italy 1988

 

Claire Hamilton (Jennifer Connelly, PHENOMENA) has come to Budapest to audition for a ballet school run by the mysterious Marius Balakin (Laurent Terzieff, THE LAST METRO). Claire meets cute with fellow American Jason (Gary McCleery, TAPS) who retrieves her dropped slipper. Jason is in Budapest with his Uncle Joshua (an overacting Charles Durning) to buy up some antique clocks at auction but is quickly distracted by Claire. Claire goes to the audition but loses her nerve (although she is spotted by Balakin dancing on an empty stage). Back at her hotel receives flowers addressed to long dead ballerina Natalie Horvath. Claire plans to go back to New York but instead answers to a loudspeaker request for a car waiting for Natalie Horvath and gets into a Rolls Royce which spirits her away into the past. Later, Jason sees her in a park and is delighted that she has stayed but she appears not to know him. Jason is mystified and grows suspicious when it appears that outside forces are trying to keep him away from her (including his uncle suddenly turning into a murderous lunatic). Meanwhile, Claire is groomed to fill Natalie's shoes in a performance of Swan Lake originally cut short by her death. American Peter Del Monte (TRAVELING COMPANION) takes a restrained approach to this slow-burn ghost story that goes against the grain of most Italian-produced horror of this time (producer Achille Manzotti also greenlighted the two NOTHING UNDERNEATH films and later TWO EVIL EYES) but is far more successful compared to Del Monte's other Italian brush with the supernatural JULIA AND JULIA (one of the early hi-def TV productions of the time shot by Giuseppe Rotunno) with Kathleen Turner, Gabriel Byrne, and Sting. There are seeming references to SUSPIRIA (the ballerinas and the creepy school building), OPERA (the performance itself), and INFERNO (Jason's penetrating the subterranean lair) but it is all of a different, more contemplative style as befits Jurgen Kneiper's brooding orchestral score (paired on CD with the ultra funky Franco Micalizzi score for STRIDULUM/THE VISITOR). An uncredited Sergio Stivaletti (THE STENDHAL SYNDROME) created a giant animatronic black swan that is kept largely offscreen but the raising of its silhouetted head behind a curtain upon Jason's entrance into its mirror-filled chamber recalls the rousing of SUSPIRIA's Helena Markos).

Eric Cotenas

Poster

Theatrical Release: February 1990

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DVD Review: Medusa Home Video - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Medusa Home Video

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:36:51 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.65:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 4.71 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles Italian, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Medusa Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.65:1

Edition Details:
• Theatrical Trailer (4:3; 2:08)

Amaray

Chapters 18

 

Comments

Although not English-friendly, Medusa's single-layer, anamorphic transfer of the film restores a degree of luster missing from the previous releases (despite the minor presence of edge enhancement). Although unreleased in the US or England, the film was released twice in Japan.

 

The first as a stereo surround, widescreen version in English (featuring the voices of the American actors and French actor Laurent Terzieff) on laserdisc and VHS and then later in DVD in a PAL-NTSC conversion of the Italian language version (presumably the same PAL master is used here).

  - Eric Cotenas

 



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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Medusa Home Video

Region 2 - PAL

 

 




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