Search DVDBeaver

S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

 

H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Symptoms aka The Blood Virgin [Blu-ray]

 

(José Ramón Larraz, 1974)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Finition Productions

Video: BFI / Mondo Macabro

 

Disc:

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

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

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

 

Subtitles (both):

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

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 screen)
From Barcelona to Tunbridge Wells: The Films of José Larraz (Andrew Starke & Pete Tombs, 1999, 24:11)
Interview with Angela Pleasence (2016 - 9:37): Interview with the film’s star
Interview with Lorna Heilbron (2016 - 17:57): Interview with the film’s co-star
Interview with Brian Smedley-Aston (2016 - 17:04): Interview with the film’s editor
Original theatrical trailer (2:06)

Newly commissioned cover art by Gilles Vranckx
The retail version of this release will be preceded by a limited, numbered version (500 copies only)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

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.

Larraz’s dark and stylish film tells of a young woman (Lorna Heilbron) who is invited by her girlfriend (Angela Pleasence) to stay at her remote English country mansion. Events take a disturbing turn when a menacing groundkeeper (Peter Vaughan) interrupts their time together, and a woman’s body is found in the mansion’s lake.

Other than a limited theatrical release and a late-night screening on British television in the early 80s, Larraz’s film has slipped into obscurity, and the original negative was long thought lost, assuring it a place in the BFI’s ‘Most Wanted’ list. Following the rediscovery of the original negatives in 2014, the dark delights of Symptoms can finally be experienced again in this new restoration, undertaken by the Belgian Cinematek.

***

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.

A dark and haunting study in psychological horror, Symptoms takes us deep into the twisted mind of a damaged girl.

Helen, who lives alone, invites her new friend Anne to stay with her in a lonely house, lost in the English countryside. The house, the woods that surround it and the figures fleetingly glimpsed through its windows, all seem imbued with a deep sense of mystery. Helen appears to be hiding a secret and the more Anne tries to uncover it, the deeper she is pulled into its dark heart.

Symptoms was the official UK entry to the Cannes film festival in 1974 and was highly praised at the time. Subsequently the film sank into obscurity and was recently listed as one of the UK’s top 75 “lost films”. This release, taken from the original negative and fully restored, brings this quiet masterpiece back into view, where it can now be appreciated as one of the most under rated films of the 1970s.

 

 

The Film:

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

 

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

2) Mondo Macabro - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

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

2) Mondo Macabro - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

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

2) Mondo Macabro - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

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).

 

Extras :

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

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Symptoms is a delicious 70's, modern Gothic, horror. Angela Pleasence, daughter of actor Donald Pleasence, gives a mesmerizing performance.  The BFI Blu-ray provides a satisfying a/v presentation with many excellent supplements. I'd consider this a 'must-own' as a lost classic that will certainly deserve its new audience thanks to the restoration. Strongly recommended!

 

Still a great release and the Mondo Macabro (limited to 1000 copies - don't wait!) is also very strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

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.

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

 

       HIGH DEFINITION DVD STORE     ALL OUR NEW FORMAT DVD REVIEWS

 

 




 

Hit Counter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DONATIONS Keep DVDBeaver alive:

 CLICK PayPal logo to donate!

Gary Tooze

Thank You!