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(aka "Crimson" or "L'homme à la tête coupée" or "Las Ratas no duermen de noche" or "Le viol et l'enfer des X" )

 

directed by Juan Fortuny
France/Spain 1976

 

Surnett (Paul Naschy, VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES) and his gang are planning to make a big score at a jewelry store with the help of safecracker , but the sticky fingers of Karl (Victor Israel, HORROR EXPRESS) set off the alarm and the group flee by car. They elude a police road block, but Surnett is shot in the head. Surnett's second-in-command Henry (Olivier Mathot, CECILIA) takes charge and drags in alcoholic Dr. Ritter (Carlos Otero, LONG DAYS OF VENGEANCE) to examine Surnett. Ritter does not possess the means or the know-how to save Surnett, but he knows who does. Henry, Ritter, Karl, and Paul (Yul Sanders, MIDNIGHT PARTY) transport Surnett to the country house of Ritter's colleague Professor Thys (Ricardo Palmerola, THE BURNED CITY), who informs them that they need a fresh brain to save Surnett. Rather than volunteering or flipping a coin to see who will "sacrifice" his brain, they consult Ritter on some of his other patients who might be suitable. The only one he can come up with is Henry's arch-enemy The Sadist (Roberto Mauri, director of SLAUGHTER OF THE VAMPIRES). Paul and Karl kill and decapitate The Sadist, and Thys - whose hands were burned in a accident - directs his wife Ana (Sylvia Solar, FURY OF THE WOLFMAN) in performing the transplant (while holding their daughter hostage). Of course, transplanting the brain of a violently-murdered enemy - especially one called "The Sadist" - into the body of his foe is going to have some complications, including violent behavior towards The Sadist's enemies, and a few nubile women (although they, or their body doubles, only show skin in the X version). Henry has The Sadist's head sent to his girl Barbara (Evelyne Scott, DEVIL KISS) as a present. Although Barbara puts The Sadist's second-in-command Willy (Richard Kolin, EYEBALL) in charge, she proves to be the sadistic moving force behind their revenge. She and Willy torture the information as to Surnett's whereabouts out of Ritter and Surnett's moll Ingrid (Gilda Arancio, ZOMBIE LAKE) and converge on the doctor's estate. Henry has recognized that Surnett is a danger to all of them and agrees with Ana that he should be dealt with, but now Thys thinks Surnett's is too important for his experiments. Will Surnett or The Sadist's gang prove to be the greater danger? THE MAN WITH THE SEVERED HEAD, or CRIMSON as it is better known, feels like a very dated sixties thriller (especially since it was made in 1976); more so because it is lacking in exploitable elements. Despite brain transplants, plenty of bullet-hits, and a decapitation-by-train, there is very little gore. There is also no nudity (the erotic footage shot for the alternate version LE VIOL ET L'ENFER DES X is only slightly more explicit than what one would find in any other Eurocine production). CRIMSON was the only directorial effort of Juan Fortuny (who scripted the Eurocine Spanish-French co-production ORLOFF AND THE INVISIBLE MONSTER) that seems to have been exported, and its limited sets, effects, and generally compact scope suggest that it is the Eurocine equivalent of a quickie (this from a production company that usually produced simultaneous productions using the same locations and actors). Mathot, Solar, Otero, Israel, Kolin, and Scott had all appeared the previous year in the French/Spanish co-production DEVIL KISS/THE WICKED CARESSES OF SATAN, also distributed by Eurocine, and were likely retained for this effort. Naschy has very little to do, Solar is better in her voluptuous villain roles, and Israel's recognizable bug eyes and bald pate are hidden behind a wig and tinted glasses (Israel and Palmerola later appeared in Fortuny's horror comedy EL POBRECITO DRACULA). On the other hand, Arancio makes for a good eye candy substitute for Scott - who does not appear until more than half-way through the film - and Mathot is a dependable Eurocine presence. Raymond Heil's (OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES) photography is colorful, but Daniel White's score is largely composed of outdated jazz cues (one mournful cue featuring guitar and a woman vocalizing, did however, find its way into a couple eighties Jess Franco productions such as THE SEXUAL STORY OF O).

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 19 September 1976 (France)

Reviews         DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison:

Arrow Video (ArrowDrome) - Region 0 - PAL vs. Image Entertainment (Euroshock Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for all the Screen Caps!

(Arrow Video (ArrowDrome) - Region 0 - PAL - LEFT vs. Image Entertainment (Euroshock Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Arrow Video

Region 0 - PAL

Image Entertainment
Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:25:39 (4% PAL speedup) 1:29:15
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.24 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.76:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.28 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:

 

Arrow Video (ArrowDrome)

 

Bitrate:

 

Image Entertainment (Euroshock Collection)

 

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono; French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono

English Dolby Digital 1.0 mono; French Dolby Digital 1.0 mono

Subtitles English, none English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Arrow Video

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Paul Naschy Featurette (16:9; 23:25)
• Alternate Erotic Scenes (16:9; 6:34)
• French Trailer (16:9; 2:49)
• Booklet: Paul Naschy in America - An Interview with Naschy distributor Sam Sherman
• Reversible Sleeve

DVD Release Date: October 10th, 2011

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Image Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.76:1

Edition Details:
• French Main Title Sequence (16:9; 2:04)
• Alternate Erotic Scenes (16:9; 11:18)
• French Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 2:49)

 

DVD Release Date: 24 September 2002
Amaray

Chapters 15

 

Comments

The ArrowDrome and Image discs look pretty much identical (the onscreen title on the ArrowDrome disc remains CRIMSON as on the Image release). The Image disc is a tad more colorful, but it is an interlaced transfer (although it runs at the correct 24fps speed). The original Arrow Films edition was classified by the BBFC as a re-edited version running at 85:41, as does the ArrowDrome disc (based on reviews, it appears that the original Arrow Films disc featured the same 16:9 master and the same length of additional erotic footage, but lacked the trailer, the French track/English subtitles, and of course the newly produced documentary). I am assuming that the "re-editing" is the reinstating of cut material since the original 1985 tape release suffered roughly four minutes of cuts. Most Eurocine films were lensed at 1.66:1 and their new masters retained that framing, but CRIMSON seems to have been lensed wider and the 1.78:1 framing seems ideal (especially since the stock footage for the nightclub act seems to have been framed at 1.85:1 with the upper hard matte sometimes dipping into the top of the frame). Both discs feature the English and French tracks, as well as somewhat different optional English subtitle tracks (the French track is recommended).

Both editions feature the trailer and a reel of alternate "erotic" footage, but the ArrowDrome version of the reel is missing two rape scenes, a minute of voice and sound effects following the sex scene between Naschy and Solar, as well as some bits of framing footage for the inserts. Both editions have some exclusive extras. ArrowDrome has the new featurette about Paul Naschy featuring input from Fangoria's Tony Timpone, actress Caroline Munro (who starred with Naschy in HOWL OF THE DEVIL), Brian Yuzna (who directed him in ROTTWEILER), director Fred Olen Ray and actress Michelle Bauer (who both worked with him on TOMB OF THE WEREWOLF), and director Mick Garris (who narrated the Sitges festival retrospective documentary on Naschy). It's pretty clip-heavy (mostly trailers) and Naschy fans won't learn much of anything new, but the participants convey affection for the actor/writer/director. The ArrowDrome edition also features a reversible sleeve and a booklet featuring an interview with Sam Sherman of Independent International (who distributed Naschy's BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL [as HOUSE OF PSYCHOTIC WOMEN], NIGHT OF THE HOWLING BEAST, and MARK OF THE WOLFMAN [as FRANKENSTEIN'S BLOODY TERROR, the DVD of which features a commentary by Sherman]). The Image disc features the alternate French title sequence. Owners of the Image disc of this minor Naschy film may not want to upgrade, but ArrowDrome's disc presentation of the feature.

 - Eric Cotenas

 



DVD Menus
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Arrow Video (ArrowDrome) - Region 0 - PAL - LEFT vs. Image Entertainment (Euroshock Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT)


 

 


 

Screen Captures

(Arrow Video (ArrowDrome) - Region 0 - PAL - TOP vs. Image Entertainment (Euroshock Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)
Subtitle sample

 


(Arrow Video (ArrowDrome) - Region 0 - PAL - TOP vs. Image Entertainment (Euroshock Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Arrow Video (ArrowDrome) - Region 0 - PAL - TOP vs. Image Entertainment (Euroshock Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Arrow Video (ArrowDrome) - Region 0 - PAL - TOP vs. Image Entertainment (Euroshock Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Arrow Video (ArrowDrome) - Region 0 - PAL - TOP vs. Image Entertainment (Euroshock Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Arrow Video (ArrowDrome) - Region 0 - PAL - TOP vs. Image Entertainment (Euroshock Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(Arrow Video (ArrowDrome) - Region 0 - PAL - TOP vs. Image Entertainment (Euroshock Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Arrow

Sound:

Draw

Extras: Draw
Menu: Arrow

 
DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Arrow Video

Region 0 - PAL

Image Entertainment
Region 1 - NTSC

 

 




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