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(aka "Ligeia" )

 

directed by Michael Staininger
USA/Russia 2009

 

In a flashback of unspecified age, aristocratic child Ligeia Romanova loses her mother to the Black Death and becomes obsessed with extending her own existence. Now grown up, Ligeia (Sofya Skya) is a grad student at Tremaine University (actually Washington State University). Her strange experiments are actually her way of extending her own existence by capturing the souls of the dying. Ligeia catches the eye of lecturer Jonathan Merrick (Wes Bentley, AMERICAN BEAUTY, also listed as "co-executive producer") who is engaged to opera singer Rowena (Kaitlin Doubleday). When the university's chancellor Burris (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) tries to warn Jonathan about Ligeia - with whom he had an affair - she adds him to her collection of trapped souls. Ligeia seduces Jonathan away from Rowena - with a combination of witchery, absinthe, and sex - and he marries her instead and purchases back her lost family estate near the Black Sea. The mansion is cared for by Vaslov (Eric Roberts) and his niece Lorelei (Mackenzie Rosman). Vaslov is suspicious of Ligeia and warns Jonathan of his discoveries in the basement. Fate intervenes when Rowena appears in Moscow (in a nice touch she is performing in the musical version of Noel Coward's BLITHE SPIRIT about the ghost of a woman who tries to disrupt her husband's second marriage). When Jonathan realizes he has been manipulated into throwing Rowena aside for Ligeia, he leaves her. Ligeia throws herself from the roof of her mansion. Jonathan buries and mourns her but eventually reconciles with Rowena who marries him. Ligeia's spirit possesses Lorelei who takes out anyone who stands between her and Jonathan. She eventually takes possession of Rowena whose behavior changes dramatically (she even dyes her hair to better resemble Ligeia). Will Jonathan be able to save Rowena or will he welcome Ligeia's return? Only very loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe's story "Ligeia," THE TOMB (one of at least four horror films of variable quality with that title although promotional materials bore the "Edgar Allan Poe's LIGEIA" title) is a handsome production (the cinematography and settings become gorgeous once the film moves to the Ukraine) and one wishes it was a better film (although its visual style may have more to do with its promoted association with THE CROW than anything organic to Poe). Instead of a mesmerizing personality, this absinthe-drinking goth Ligeia is shown using witchcraft to ensnare Merrick. There are some nice touches here and there (the recurring use of the Ouroboros symbol of the serpent eating its own tail) but the film is a mess structurally as it tries to encompass both marriages (Robert Towne's version began with Rowena meeting the protagonist some time after Ligea's death and built up signs of her continued presence effectively). Michael Madsen (RESERVOIR DOGS) plays Rowena's father - who sees Jonathan as a meal ticket - and while he gives a good performance, his expository scenes with Doubleday seem to have been written to pad the film (at the expense of a deeper exploration of the contrasts between Ligeia and Rowena in Jonathan's eyes). It is never clearly explained how Ligeia's "essence" remained after her death (considering the lengths at which she goes to trap those of her victims) and the intermediary possession of Lorelei is awkward. Bentley has a striking look in the film isn't nearly obsessive enough a Poe-vian protagonist. Skya is striking and hits the right note - although the script sets her up right away as abnormal so there's not much in the way of psychological development to be conveyed through performance and character - and Doubleday does provoke sympathy (as do Roberts and Rosman). It falls in between the greatness of Corman's version and the deadly dull TALES OF MYSTERY AND IMAGINATION Slavic/South African TV adaptation. Bentley does a spoken-word rendition of the Poe poem "The Conqueror Worm" (which is featured in the Poe story) and Skya performs a theme song over the end credits.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 13 November 2009

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DVD Review: Phase 4 Films (Fangoria Frightfest 2010) - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

Phase 4 Films

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:29:12
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.46 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

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

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 5.1; English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Phase 4 Films

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Deleted Scenes (4:3; 10:39)
• Interviews (4:3; 31:36)
• Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 1:54)
• 8 Fright Fest Previews (16:9; 30:29)
• Trailers for FRAGILE, PIG HUNT, HUNGER, and THE HAUNTING
• Start-up trailers for GRIMM LOVE, ROAD KILL, and DARK HOUSE

DVD Release Date: September 28th, 2010
Amaray

Chapters 12

 

Comments

The not-always-reliable IMDB lists THE TOMB as being a 2.35:1 production and there are instances where Phase 4's 1.78:1 transfer does indeed look cropped. Most of the compositions seem unimpaired but a few make use of the full width of the frame and are cut off on both sides.

The version under review is the retail version (DVDTalk's review was of a screener with 2.0 sound only but the reported aspect ratio was 2.35:1). There are ten minutes of deleted scenes and thirty minutes of interviews with the cast (typical press kit stuff) as well as the film's trailer and trailers for the rest of the FrightFest entries.

  - Eric Cotenas

 



DVD Menus
 

 


Screen Captures


Cropping from 2.35:1?

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 


DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Phase 4 Films

Region 1 - NTSC

 

 




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