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Symptoms aka The Blood Virgin [Blu-ray]
(José Ramón Larraz, 1974)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Finition Productions
Video:BFI / Mondo Macabro
Region: FREE(both) (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Runtime: 1:31:32.320/ 1:31:32.320
Disc Size: 47,287,168,268 bytes/ 48,668,650,776 bytes
Feature Size: 26,828,664,192 bytes/ 26,828,686,272 bytes
Video Bitrate: 35.01 Mbps/ 34.99 Mbps
Chapters: 10 / 11
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: April 25th, 2016 / May 16th, 2016
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
English (SDH), none
•On Vampyres and other Symptoms (Celia Novis, 2011, 1:13:38): Feature-length documentary about director José Ramón Larraz focusing on two of his most acclaimed films, Vampyres and Symptoms
• From Barcelona to Tunbridge Wells: The Films of José Larraz (Andrew Starke & Pete Tombs, 1999, 24:10)
• Interview with Angela Pleasence (2016 - 9:35): Interview with the film’s star
• Interview with Lorna Heilbron (2016 - 17:35): Interview with the film’s co-star
• Interview with Brian Smedley-Aston (2016 - 17:02): Interview with the film’s editor
• Original theatrical trailer (2:04)
• Illustrated booklet with new writing by Vanity Celis and full film credits
• On Vampyres and other Symptoms (Celia Novis, 2011, 1:13:55): Feature-length documentary about director José Ramón Larraz focusing on two of his most acclaimed films, Vampyres and Symptoms
Celia Novis Biography (text
commissioned cover art by Gilles Vranckx
Description: The official British Palme d’Or entry at the
1974 Cannes Film Festival, Symptoms is a sophisticated
modern gothic horror film exploring the themes of sexual
repression and psychosis.
Mondo Macabro is extremely proud to
present for the first time ever on home video a lost classic
of Euro-horror cinema, Jose Ramon Larraz’s SYMPTOMS.
Made by a Spanish director working for an English company, with Angela Pleasence running mad in an old dark house and giving murderous vent to her sexist grievances, this is the finest British horror movie from a foreigner since Polanski’s Repulsion. The comparison is inevitable, because thematically the films have a good deal in common, charting the gradual mental dissolution of their spectral heroines. Symptoms imitates, but also improves on its original in a multiplicity of ways. The muted love affair between Pleasence and Lorna Heilbron is etched with enormous suggestiveness, and Larraz’s eye for visual detail is mesmerising.Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE
Helen Ramsey (Angela Pleasance) arrives back from Switzerland to her family home, a large old-fashioned country house, accompanied by a friend, Ann West (Lorna Heilbron). It quickly becomes clear that Helen suffers from a nervous disposition, and she mentions having spent time convalescing. Helens hearing is very sharp, and she burns paper doll chains on the fire to calm her nerves. It becomes apparent that she had earlier been living in the house with another friend, Cora, but she isn't keen to talk about her. There is an odd-job man who lives in the grounds of the house called Brady (Peter Vaughan), and its clear that Helen has an intense dislike of him. At night both Helen and Ann hear voices in the house, and Helen seems convinced that there is something in the attic, a trap door to which is in the ceiling in a corner of her room. One night Ann hears moaning from Helens room; she goes to investigate and climbs the steps to the attic, where she finds Coras suitcases.Excerpt from Horror Express located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Symptoms, usually only available in very poor quality prints, has had a recent restoration and gets a pleasing transfer to Blu-ray from BFI. It's solidly in dual-layered territory and has a max'ed bitrate for the 1.5 hour feature. Trevor Wrenn's cinematography has some impressive moments. Colors are muted but consistent. The 1080P even exports some minor depth in the 1.33:1 frame (IMDb states the AR is 1.85:1). It's reasonably clean showcasing very watchable visuals. Aside from some contrast flickering in the opening - it's quite strong overall. This Blu-ray represents a breath of fresh air for the limited digital representations that have surfaced including analog bootlegs.
This is, almost, the exact same release as the BFI - from the same restoration and they may have shared the digital transfer. Same max'ed out bitrate and the running time is exact to the 1/1000th of the second - even the menus are the same (a Mondo Macabro logo is stuck on the right side - see below.) Even the audio, subtitle font/size and the extras (see below.) So our comments about the BFI hold true.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
More Blu-ray Captures
BFI's Blu-ray of Symptoms' audio is transferred via a linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps. It's flat but maintains some creepy atmosphere in the dead silences. The score is by John Scott (Billy Two Hats, Wake in Fright, Trog). It sounds very tight and clean. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE.
Exact same liner PCM audio transfer on the Mondo Macabro and same optional English subtitles (same font/size).
BFI, again, stack this Blu-ray with supplements. First off, is the 2011 feature-length documentary by Celia Novis entitled On Vampyres and other Symptoms about director José Ramón Larraz - focusing on two of his most acclaimed films, Vampyres and Symptoms. It runs 1 1/4 hours. From Barcelona to Tunbridge Wells: The Films of José Larraz is from 1999 by Andrew Starke & Pete Tombs and runs 25-minutes. It looks at Spain's sex and horror film master, Jose Larraz, who caused a sensation at the Cannes Film Festival with Symptoms. The film features interviews with Larraz, producer Brian Smedly-Aston, and former Benny Hill star Marianne Morris. There are new interviews with Angela Pleasence, Lorna Heilbron and the film’s editor Brian Smedley-Aston running almost 45-minutes in total. There is an original theatrical trailer and the package contains a second disc DVD as well as an illustrated booklet with new writing by Vanity Celis and full film credits.
Same extras minus the booklet.
BFI - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Mondo Macabro - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Still a great release and the Mondo Macabro (limited to 1000 copies - don't wait!) is also very strongly recommended!
April 21st, 2016
May 13th, 2016
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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