|S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r|
The Demons aka Les démons [Blu-ray]
(Jesús Franco, 1973)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Comptoir Français du Film Production (CFFP)
Video: Redemption / Kino / Nucleus Films (UK)
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Runtime: 1:58:24.680/ 1:58:04.333 / English DUB'ed version: 1:28:06.750
Disc Size: 42,955,147,116 bytes/ 49,294,794,753 bytes
Feature Size: 33,755,774,400 bytes / 30,603,307,008 bytes
Eng. DUB'ed version: 10,030,491,648 bytes
Video Bitrate: 33.92 Mbps / 30.00 Mbps / English: 14.00 Mbps
Chapters: 10 (both)
Case: Standard Blu-ray case (both)
Release date: April 29th, 2014/ November 20th, 2017
Aspect ratio: 2.25:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
LPCM Audio French 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
LPCM Audio French 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps /
Dolby Digital Audio English 448 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
English, none (none on English DUB'ed version)
• Jess Franco Interview (16:19)
• Deleted Footage (10:16 - no audio)
• 5 Trailer (2 for The Demons)
French Version with English Subtitles (118 mins) and Dubbed
English Version (88 Mins)
• Gallery (6:36)
• Trims (Silent - 6:37)
• Clean (no text) Credits (2:00) / German Credits (1:53)
Description: In the wake of the massive controversy surrounding Ken Russell's The Devils, several filmmakers rushed to create their own 'Inquisition' horror films, inspired by the true story of satanic possession at the convent Loudun. The Demons is Jess Franco's stellar entry in the nunspoitation canon, with a degree of sadism and sexual explicitness that overshadows his competitors.
Excerpt from the back cover of the Blu-ray
The UK Premiere of the fully uncut version! Two orphaned sisters living quietly in a convent - free-spirited Kathleen (Anne Libert) and God fearing Margaret (Britt Nichols) are persecuted by the wicked Lady De Winter (Karin Field) who tells them they are daughters of a condemned witch burned at the stake. Believing the girls will seek vengeance, De Winter sends Kathleen to witch-hunter Judge Jeffries to be tortured and burned. Pious Margaret is spared, but when she learns of her sister's agony she rejects God and enters a carnal relationship with the Devil himself. As Kathleen falls in love with one of her captors, Margaret stalks the house of De Winter, her Satanic kisses bringing terror and death...
The Demons is full of sex, but it's used more sparingly than usual. For once, Franco instead gives us a story with twists and turns and interesting characters, resulting in one of his classier productions. If it weren't for his trademark zooms (which bother me less than most viewers) and regular stable of actors like Howard Vernon, Anne Libert, and Britt Nichols, it might be more difficult to tell it's a Jess Franco film. That isn't to say his footprints aren't all over this – there's plenty of chains and screaming and torture and bloody breasts and furry vaginas and ornately decorated interiors that were probably the producer's house somewhere in France or Spain.
A suspected witch is stuck with a pin, has boiling water poured on her chest, screams, laughs, yells something in French that I didn’t understand and is then burned alive at the stake. Before dying, she curses all those responsible; including inquisitor Lord Justice Jeffreys (“John Foster”/ Cihangir Gaffari), powerful noblewoman Lady de Winter (Karin Field) and soldier Thomas Renfield (Alberto Dalbés), and promises they’ll all face a death far worse than hers at the hand of her two daughters. Meanwhile, at a local convent, repressed Mother Rosalinda (Doris Thomas) rules with an iron fist and lashes a young woman’s hands for simply daydreaming. Two orphaned sisters; the pure, humble and innocent blonde Margaret (gorgeous Britt Nichols) and the pleasant but wayward brunette Kathleen (Anne Libert), who dreams of “running naked through the wheat fields with the wind caressing me all over,” are staying there and have their pension paid by a mysterious man. Hey, this is an upscale nunnery!
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Redemption's 40th spine label Blu-ray is Jess Franco's The Demons. This is dual-layered with a very high bitrate and I expect this is as good as the film has ever looked on digital. The weaknesses are more a factor of the original production than the competent 1080P transfer. It looks consistently soft and a bit hazy but detail rises a bit in the frequent facial close-ups. This is transferred at 2.25:1 and colors have a bit of perk and there is no noise to speak of. The chunkiness of the film textures seems correct to me. Pretty solid transfer of a weak looking film. This Blu-ray provides a consistent presentation but by modern standards the film visuals are at the lower tier.
Nucleus Films offers both the French-language version and the, shorter, English DUB. They are housed on a dual-layered BD disc and the French version has a high bitrate. It looks like it is probably from the same source (2.25:1) as the Redemption and the image quality is, pretty much, exact. The English DUB version only takes up 10Gig and has a low bitrate and has some of the deficiencies found in SD but it's inclusion will be appreciated for some - or as a curiosity.
NOTE: Richard Morpeth tells us in FB: "The Nucleus BD is UNCUT UNLIKE the Redemption release. Nucleus included an 8 second scene & an optical effect of the woman's face dissolving into the skull that ARE NOT in the Redemption." (Thanks Richard)
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Redemption use a linear PCM 2.0 channel at 2304 kbps in original French but DUB'ing is highly evident. The screams and minor effects pack an uncomfortable wallop. Jean-Bernard Raiteux (Diary of a Nymphomaniac, The Perverse Countess) composed the score - which sounds as out-of-place as a lot of what goes on in the film. There are optional English subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
Nucleus films include both a linear PCM 2.0 channel track (16-bit) and a DTS-HD Master mono track at 24-bit. The mono has a more robust transfer and is probably the best choice. It offers optional English subtitles. The English DUB version has a lossy Dolby track and no subtitle option. The UK Blu-ray disc is Region 'B'-locked.
We get a 16-minute Jess Franco interview where the director is unusually frank (+ toothless?) plus 10-minutes of, audio-less, deleted footage and a group of trailers (2 for The Demons.)
As well as including the dubbed English Version there is a 23-minute interview with Steve Thrower entitled Exorcising Demons. He is author of Murderous Passions: The Delirious Cinema of Jesús Franco (Volume 1) and Flowers of Perversion: The Delirious Cinema of Jesús Franco (Volume 2). Nucleus also include the same 16-minute interview as the Redemption, with a candid Jess Franco entitled Jess' Demons. There is a gallery of publicity, posters etc. material, some silent footage with lost audio, clean (no text) credits and the German credits as well as four theatrical trailers (American - 3:22, German Theatrical - 3:17, German Re-release - 2:13, French Trailer - Silent - 3:36).
Redemption - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Nucleus Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray
The 'nunsploitation' and 'burning witches' bent should have an appeal to some. It remains typical Jess Franco - forgoing quality direction for gratuitous nudity and S+M. The Nucleus Films Blu-ray has merit and advances over the Redemption in all areas. Serious Jess Franco fans will want this UK release.
April 4th, 2014
January 11th, 2018