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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Long Hair of Death aka I lunghi capelli della morte [Blu-ray]

 

(Antonio Margheriti, 1964)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Cinegai S.p.A.

Video: Raro / 88 Films (UK)

 

Disc:

Region: FREE / Region 'B'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:36:16.604 / 1:36:16.604

Disc Size: 23,875,941,859 bytes / 24,323,900,881 bytes

Feature Size: 20,393,195,520 bytes / 20,806,471,680 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.44 Mbps / 23.96 Mbps

Chapters: 12 / 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case / Transparent Blu-ray case inside cardboard slipcase

Release date: December 16th, 2014 / July 24th, 2017

 

Video (both):

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio Italian 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

 

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
LPCM Audio Italian 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

 

Subtitles (both):

English, none

 

Extras:

• Introduction by Chris Alexander (Fangoria Magazine) (3:51)

Interview with Edoardo Margheriti (10:31)
Interview with Antonio Tentori (6:17)
Italian Trailer (3:34)
English Trailer (3:38)


Italian Gothic: The Horrors of Antonio Margheriti Featurette (14:42)

Theatrical Trailer (3:37)
Reversible Sleeve

 

Bitrate:

1) Raro - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) 88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Description: In the 15th century, a young woman is accused of being a witch and committing a murder. She is burned at the stake. Years later, during a plague, she is revived by lightning. She returns to her village to prevent her daughter from marrying the man who actually committed the murder for which she was executed.

 

 

The Film:
 

When Adele Karnstein is sentenced to be burned at the stake murdering the brother of Count Humboldt (Giuliano Raffaelli, SNOW DEVILS), her younger daughter Lisabeth is taken in by the family while the Count's guards hunt down the older daughter Helen who no one has ever seen. Having heard of her mother's trial, Helen (Barbara Steele, BLACK SUNDAY) steals into the Humboldt castle and tells the Count that her mother is innocent and the real murderer is someone under his own protection. Humboldt agrees to delay the trial if Helen will submit to his desires, but his son Kurt (Giorgio Ardisson, HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD) and priest Van Klage (Umberto Raho, BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE) proceed with the sentence and Adele curses the Humboldt bloodline (and Kurt to die in the same manner as she). Helen is tasked with avenging her mother's death but Humboldt kills her to silence her about his brother's murder. The family maid Grumalda (Laura Nucci, BLOODSTAINED SHADOW), however, secretly buries Adele's ashes in the tomb of Helen (not known to Adele's daughter since her surname was given as Rochefort so she was buried in the consecrated ground near the church).

Years later, Adele Karnstein's curse seems to becoming true as plague and pestilence has spread over the land and Humboldt discovers that the scheming Kurt murdered his uncle and let him to believe that Adele's witchery was the cause. When the grown Lisabeth (Halina Zalewska, AN ANGEL FOR SATAN) – forced to marry Kurt to possibly appease Adele's spirit – overhears Humboldt's remorse (expressed to his brother's corpse), she goes to her mother's (and sister's) grave and begs for help in avenging her. With the sudden onset of purifying rains comes a lightning bolt that splits Helen's tomb. The sudden arrival of dazed traveler Mary (also Steele) gives Humboldt a heart attack. Since no one else knows what Helen looks like, Lisabeth and Kurt husband invite Mary to stay at the castle since the roads are unsafe. Just as Kurt was so intent to forcefully possess Lisabeth, he finds himself falling in love and lust with Mary. Since adultery is punishable by death, Kurt resolves with Mary's assistance to remove the obstacle that Lisabeth has become. They drug her and seal her up in a sarcophagus in the crypt for the night to suffocate before returning her to her bed only to discover her corpse missing in the morning. Both Grumalda and Van Klage claim to have seen Lisabeth alive and well, but Kurt is certain that she is dead. Is Kurt being haunted or is someone more corporeal plotting against him?

 


Mario Bava's fellow countryman Antonio Margheriti generally favored the science fiction genre – with entries like THE WILD, WILD PLANET and WAR OF THE PLANETS among others – a much as Luigi Cozzi (STARCRASH) more than a decade later; but, as a journeyman director in an era of Italian filmmaking when the industry was cashing in prolifically on several exploitation genres, Margheriti also contributed entries into the genres of spaghetti westerns, crime, giallo, and gothic horror. A follow-up to his grisly Technicolor THE VIRGIN OF NUREMBERG and the monochrome ghost story CASTLE OF BLOOD, THE LONG HAIR OF DEATH is rather clunkily-scripted for an Italian gothic with a lengthy prologue and a drawn-out third act of "is she dead or isn't she" when the audience is way ahead of the villain as to the supernatural goings on. When the actors stop spouting exposition and Margheriti allows his camera to sinuously prowl (his regular cinematographer Riccardo Pallotini seems to have forgone the I LOVE LUCY-esque three-camera set-up used to cover scenes) the corridors with his heroine to the scoring of Carlo Rustichelli – credited here as "Evirust" and containing at least one cue recycled from BLOOD AND BLACK LACE – the film becomes quite evocative of Bava (although perhaps MURDER OBSESSION's Riccardo Freda would have done something with the film's hair fetish and other reminders for Kurt of his wife's lingering presence). A seemingly re-animated mummified corpse early on and two flashes of body-doubled nudity (snipped from the English cut) provide some thrills, but the film is most effective at its climax – even if Margheriti's effects amount to a few double exposures – which vaguely anticipates the finale of THE WICKER MAN. Steele was utilized to better effect in her other Italian gothics, and her ambiguity here is undercut her by the fact that we know she's the instrument of her mother's revenge, while Zalewska unfortunately blends into the background for much of the film's middle up to the climax (and I have yet to see a film in which one of Ardisson's characters does not seem like a pervert or maniac right off the bat). While not the best of Barbara Steele's Italian gothics – although certainly better than THE SHE BEASTTHE LONG HAIR OF DEATH possess elements of greatness and occupies a higher tier than several of the increasingly threadbare and stylistically bland examples into the seventies like THE BLOODSUCKER LEADS THE DANCE, THE DEVIL'S LOVER, and the back-to-back Sergio Garrone/Klaus Kinski productions LOVES OF THE MONSTER and THE HAND THAT FEEDS THE DEAD. Margheriti would return to the genre with THE UNNATURALS (1969), his Technicolor CASTLE OF BLOOD remake WEB OF THE SPIDER (1970), and the gothic-giallo hybrid SEVEN DEATHS IN THE CAT'S EYE (1973), as well as second unit stints on Paul Morrissey's BLOOD FOR DRACULAS and FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN.

Review by Eric Cotenas

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Blu-ray image quality of The Long Hair of Death reminds me of Black Sunday (not only because of Barbara Steele in black and white). It leans to being a bit soft and waxy in the opening but soon settled down to be reasonably competent.  I can only assume this is as competent a source as exists. This is only single-layered with a decent bitrate but I suspect it is as good as are likely to get for the film. has there been some (too much) digitization? It is possible but I was overly deterred by the visuals in-motion. If some DNR was extended - it doesn't look blanketed because much of the film looks reasonably strong - although certain parts are softer and flatter than the norm. In short - it has a few inconsistencies.

 

No difference in the image quality between the 88 Films 1080P and the Raro. Similar file size and bitrate - the visuals are an exact match in terms of quality.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

1) Raro - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) 88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

1) Raro - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) 88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

1) Raro - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) 88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Audio is given in the option of either a linear PCM 2.0 channel in original Italian at 1536 or a, similarly technical, English DUB track. The DUB is amusing and even the original has some issues with sync and related missteps frequently associated with Italian cinema of the time. Stick with the original. The score is by Carlo Rustichelli (The Whip and the Body, Seduced and Abandoned, Divorce - Italian Style, 1974's Ten Little Indians) and sounds pretty haunting. It sounds a function of the original production with some minor depth. There are optional subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'FREE.

 

An exact technical duplicate audio transfer - linear PCM (16-bit) with Italian of English DUB. The 88 Films has English subtitles - in a larger font - for the Italian track but their Blu-ray is Region 'B'-locked.

 

Extras :

Raro's package contains a 4-minute introduction by Chris Alexander (Fangoria Magazine) and interviews with, the director's son, Edoardo Margheriti for 10-minutes and writer Antonio Tentori or 6-minutes. There are also Italian and English trailers.

 

88 Films include a 1/4 hour featurette entitled Italian Gothic: The Horrors of Antonio Margheriti where the director's son, Edoardo Margheriti discusses his father's reputation as a genre master. There is a theatrical trailer and the package has a beautiful reversible sleeve (see art below).

Raro - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

 

88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I got into this, raw, Gothic, Italian horror. It has a weird appeal that exemplifies the film's limitations. It could solely be Barbara Steele! The image is imperfect, ditto for the audio but to own this gem THIS Blu-ray is your best option and I will watch it again!

 

Pretty much the same release - minimal difference and we suggest obtaining the one more cost-reasonable for your geographic location. The 88 Films Blu-ray has the very cool reversible cover (below) but is region 'B' locked if that is an issue for you. 

Gary Tooze

December 11th, 2013

July 29th, 2017

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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