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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Spasmo [Blu-ray]

 

(Umberto Lenzi, 1974)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Libra Films International

Video: 88 Films / Scorpion Releasing

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:34:04.805 / 1:34:01.886 - 'Unfixed Feature: 1:34:01.886

Disc Size: 36,118,612,510 bytes / 49,163,438,481 bytes

Feature Size: 29,322,221,568 bytes / 23,562,375,168 bytes - 'Unfixed Feature: 23,966,711,808 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps / 28.78 Mbps / 28.82 Mbps

Chapters: 12 /

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case / Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 14th, 2015 / July 7th, 2015

 

Video (both):

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
LPCM Audio Italian 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

 

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1623 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1623 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio Italian 1563 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1563 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

 

Subtitles (both):

English, none

 

Extras:

Umberto Lenzi Q&A from Manchester Festival of Fantastic Film, 2013 (23:46)
Original Italian Opening (2:11)

Original Italian End Credits (0:25)

Trailer (3:17)
Reversible Sleeve with alternative art
Includes a Collectible 300gsm Original Poster Post Cards

 

Umberto Lenzi Interview (13:13)

Trailer (3:15)

Reversible cover

 

Bitrate:

 

1) 88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Scorpion - Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Scorpion (unfixed) - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 

 

Description: From the most controversial of all the Italian horror directors, CANNIBAL FEROX man Umberto Lenzi, comes SPASMO a slick and sick psycho-thriller that stands tall as one of the Giallo genre's most colourful crime-capers. Starring a cast of Euro-shock veterans, such as sexy Suzy Kendall (THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE) and the chiselled-chinned Ivan Rassimov (LAST CANNIBAL WORLD), Lenzi s carefully paced, and frequently surreal, murder-mystery shows that he is about more than just the gore. A genuinely accomplished achievement, with plot twists galore and a mind-boggling climax, SPASMO is a must-see for anyone who misses the classic era of Rome-based bloodshed.

 

 

The Film:

Christian (Robert Hoffman) picks up a married chick (Suzy Kendall from The Bird with the Crystal Plumage) at a party on a yacht. Their midnight tryst is ruined when a guy sneaks through the motel window and tries to shoot him. Christian gets the upper hand and kills his attacker and the scared couple flees the room. But when Christian returns to the scene of the crime, he’s shocked to learn the body has disappeared. Meanwhile his lover’s jealous husband shows up to make things even more uncomfortable for the potential love birds.

Excerpt from The Video Vacuum located HERE

I love the title of this film, I have even contemplated naming my future child “Spasmo”. I would look at it as a springboard for developing advanced coping skills and a way of accommodating decreasingly inventive generations of bullies who no longer possess the requisite wit to rise from vulgarians to true slander artists. I have also given thought about vanity plates, a lower lip tattoo or coral implants in my forehead that spell out “Spasmo”. What stops me, apart from having a sensible wife, is that “Spasmo” the film is nowhere near as vigorous as the name suggests. In fact, apart from a pre-“Memento” subtext about subjective reality and the nature of memory and identity it’s a pretty flaccid movie, or given the mannequin presence, perhaps “stiff” is a better way to describe it.

Excerpt from Bloody Good Horror located HERE

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

Spamso gets a dual-layered transfer to Blu-ray with max'ed out bitrate from 88 Films in the UK.  It showcases some beautifully thick grain textures. The 1080P supports rich colors and decent contrast in the 2.35:1 frame.  It's very clean, shows a smidgeon of depth and there are really no flaws with the video rendering. This Blu-ray probably gives a very strong representation of the original film.

 

Firstly, Scorpion Releasing give two similarly robust transfers of the film - a standard (filtered?) and an 'unfixed' version (which may mean no color correction). The latter is grainier - and I think it looks pretty decent - maybe slightly blockier. Both are darker than their UK counterpart and colors appear slightly richer. It will come down to a matter of personal choice. I really like the Scorpion and the 'unfixed' presentation. Hopefully, the comparative captures below will give you an idea of which you may prefer, but these differences will be more noticeable the larger the system you have. For many the visual disparity will be negligible.

 

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

 

 

1) 88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Scorpion - Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Scorpion (unfixed) - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) 88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Scorpion - Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Scorpion (unfixed) - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) 88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Scorpion - Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Scorpion (unfixed) - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) 88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Scorpion - Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Scorpion (unfixed) - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) 88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray  TOP

2) Scorpion - Region FREE - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Scorpion (unfixed) - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

More 88 Films Blu-ray Captures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

88 Films offer linear PCM tracks in both English or Italian 2.0 channel at 2304 kbps (24-bit). The score by Ennio Morricone (A Bullet for the General, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, U Turn, Deep Red etc. etc.) sounds a little irritatingly screetchy at time but I don't know that it wasn't authentic to the original. There is depth exported in the effects. There are optional English subtitles for the Italian track and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

 

Ditto for Scorpion who also transfer both audio tracks (English and Italian) but they use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel slightly less robust than the UK counterpart's linear PCM. The Morricone score sounds just as good to my ears and there and optional English subtitles for the Italians versions (both standard and 'unfixed'.) The Scorpion is, however, region FREE playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

Supplements include a 25-minute Q&A with Umberto Lenzi from Manchester Festival of Fantastic Film in 2013 which fans may appreciate. Also the original Italian opening and end credits sequences are included as well as a trailer. The package has a reversible sleeve with alternative art and includes a Collectible 300gsm ('Art Paper' weight) original poster post card of the film.

 

As well as offering the 'unfixed' version, Scorpio also add a 13-minute interview with Lenzi, a trailer and the cover is reversible showing a different graphic.

 

88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

Scorpion - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I'm a little surprised at the negativity surrounding Spasmo - yes, it's a little disconnected and scattered but the style is a decent Giallo representation, it has Suzy Kendall and a score by Morricone. It's more deliberately paced, low on the gore and less action than some may anticipate but I still liked the premise and direction. The 88 Films Blu-ray provides a strong 1080P video presentation and I appreciated seeing the film looking so textured. Perhaps not top shelf for the genre but I think this still has a lot to offer in terms of mood, atmosphere and did I say it has Suzy Kendall? Recommended to those curious and who keep their expectations modest. You may be as pleasantly surprised as I was.

 

I'm still very keen on this and tend to like it more - each time I play it. It has really grown on me. A 'softer' Giallo but a good one with psychological underpinnings and a very cool style. It's great to have the choice for real fans of the director and genre. Purists may lean to the Scorpion Blu-ray and the 'unfixed' version. 

Gary Tooze

August 25th, 2015

September 24th, 2015

 

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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