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What the Peeper Saw aka 'Diabólica malicia' aka 'Night Hair Child' [Blu-ray]
(James Kelly and Andrew White, 1971)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Cemo Film
Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 23,076,859,014 bytes
Feature Size: 22,393,841,664 bytes
Video Bitrate: 27.99 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: November, 2014
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec:MPEG-2 Video
LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
• Original Theatrical Trailer (1:48)
Description: In this psychological thriller touching upon obsession, a successful author's (Hardy Kruger) new wife (Britt Ekland) begins to suspect her 12-year old stepson (Mark Lester) may have have had a hand in murdering his mother whom mysteriously died while bathing. What results is a sexual cat-and-mouse game that escalates the wife's paranoia to dangerous levels.
When twenty-two year old Elise (Britt Ekland,
THE WICKER MAN) meets her husband Paul's (Hardy
WILD GEESE) young son from a previous marriage, it
does not take long for her to feel uncomfortable around him
since Marcus (Mark Lester, OLIVER!), it turns out, is
not only intellectually precocious but also sexually.
Investigating a series of mounting little deceptions on the
tyke's part, Elise discovers that he has been expelled from
school for "unnatural behavior" including peeping on
courting couples, nude drawings that demonstrate rather
advanced sexuality, and murdering a cat. When the
headmaster (Harry Andrews,
THEATRE OF BLOOD) also informs her that he has
attempted to address these issues many times in the past
with Paul, Elise starts to realize that she cannot count on
her husband to take her concerns seriously. Paul accuses
her of being determined not to like his son from the start
and believes that his behavior is a reaction to discovering
the body of his mother who died of a heart attack two years
before. Elise, however, discovers from Marcus that he did
not particularly like his mother (who seems to have been as
much an outsider in the father-son relationship as Elise is
beginning to feel herself). When she learns from Sophie (Conchita
Montes) that Marcus' mother Sarah did indeed die of a heart
attack but one triggered by an electric shock in her bath,
Elise starts to suspect that Paul may have been behind the
death until Marcus takes credit for engineering it. By this
point, Elise is uncertain whether Marcus is telling her the
truth or merely toying with her, or if she should fear for
her life when a frustrated Paul tells her "You're even
beginning to act and sound like Sarah."
The sight of kids in adult situations is unfailingly embarrassing, and Night Hair Child (whatever that means) is no exception. In it Mark Lester plays a 12-year-old voyeur who touches up Britt Ekland, and later joins her for some purpose or other (even he seems uncertain) between the sheets. Everyone involved blunders along, seemingly unaware of the sensitivity necessary to develop this story of a young newlywed who finds that she is living in the same house as a pubescent sex maniac, who may also be plotting to murder her. The casting is crazy, with Ekland hardly the actress for this sort of thing; and the script meanders all over the place, with a long psychiatric interview and a dream sequence seemingly interpolated just for the hell of it, before finally falling to bits. Still, at least Lester gets his deserts, the little brat. (Andrea Bianchi is credited as director on foreign language versions.)
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
This, much sought-after, niche film has, surprisingly, come to Blu-ray - advertised as a 'Limited Edition' and sold exclusively by VCI. Compounding the weak elements of What the Peeper Saw - is VCI's MPEG-2 encode (as opposed to AVC). They certainly aren't doing themselves any favors. There are enough inconsistencies (some scenes look fine, many do not) to contend with and, while the 1080P does show positive signs, overall this is fraught with uneven cuts, speckles and seems in dire need of a full restoration. The transfer is flat and more like video than film although some colors are exported appearing rich and deep. It is in the, bastardized, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, is mostly hazy and shows compression artifacts.
NOTE: Although advertised as 'Uncut' there may be some controversial scenes absent from this Blu-ray release. This includes a scene where Britt Ekland disrobes, gets into bed with Mark Lester and cuddles with him.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
A linear PCM that fares about as well as the video in terms of tightness. Again, at the mercy of the un-restored elements. It can be scattered with volume fluctuation but dialogue is, generally, audible. The score is by Stelvio Cipriani (Massimo Dallamano's The Night Child, and has composed over 200 film scores) There are optional English subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE (despite the box back-cover stating 'Region A').
Only original trailer and 30-second 'teaser'. Too bad - there is surely some discussion by worthy film fans possible.
November 27th, 2014
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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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