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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Love Witch [Blu-ray]


(Anna Biller, 2016)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Oscilloscope

Video: Oscilloscope Laboratories



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

Runtime: 2:00:48.616

Disc Size: 47,358,843,007 bytes

Feature Size: 33,312,952,320 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.13 Mbps

Chapters: 18

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: March 14th, 2017



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 2007 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2007 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3237 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3237 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2057 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2057 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English (SDH), none


Commentary with director Anna Biller, cinematographer M. David Mullen, star Samantha Robinson, and actor/producer Jared Sanford
Behind the Scenes with Anne Biller (10:39)
Interview with cinematographer M. David Mullen (10:55)
• 2 Deleted, 2 Alternate Cuts and 8 Extended Scenes
Samantha Robinson Dance Audition (2:41)
Unreleased Trailer (1:47), theatrical trailer (2:36)






Description: Elaine, a beautiful young witch, is determined to find a man to love her. In her gothic Victorian apartment she makes spells and potions, and then picks up men and seduces them. However, her spells work too well, leaving her with a string of hapless victims. When she finally meets the man of her dreams, her desperation to be loved will driver her to the brink of insanity and murder. With a visual style that pays tribute to Technicolor thrillers of the 60s, THE LOVE WITCH explores female fantasy and the repercussions of pathological narcissism.



The Film:

Writer-director Anna Biller is clearly a fan of the powerful women in Russ Meyer’s sexploitation movies – films like ‘Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!’ (1965). Her work, including 2007’s ‘Viva’ and now the hugely entertaining ‘The Love Witch’, seems plucked from the same Playboy-era universe of huge hairdos, heavy make-up and voracious female appetites. But Meyer could never make a psychodrama as sophisticated as this.

The Love Witch’ is cloaked in a retro wardrobe and soundtrack (much of the music, by Ennio Morricone, is sourced from ’60s thrillers) but is loaded with irony and a fluid sense of identity. Samantha Robinson (looking like she’s stepped out of a centrefold) stars as Elaine, who drives up the California coast away from her failed marriage. But don’t call her disenchanted. If anything, Elaine’s got more magic than most, casting sexual spells over unlucky men. We also learn pretty quickly that she’s a serial killer.

Elaine makes her way through a parade of male caricatures – a French literature professor, a frustrated married man, a lantern-jawed cop – but she’s always in control, toying with their sense of entitlement. Biller’s dialogue is intentionally stilted; she draws attention to the banal come-ons that once passed for romantic repartee, but also to the contortions that women had to strike in order to play the game. And nobody, it turns out, plays it better than Elaine does. But at what cost?

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

If The Love Witch simply raised the profile of its director, Anna Biller—a true auteur who not only wrote, directed, produced, and edited this film but also designed and hand made its sets and costumes—then it would be a success. Biller’s devout attention to detail in her films means we don’t get a lot of them, and it’s been nearly a decade since her last one, the sexploitation satire Viva. Happily, though, Biller’s tribute to the ’60s and ’70s witchcraft melodrama (see: George Romero’s Season Of The Witch) is not just an impressive visual and technical achievement. It’s also a nuanced statement on gender relations whose morals are as flexible as its formal qualities are rigid.

Samantha Robinson—who bears a striking resemblance to the title character in one of Biller’s presumed stylistic touchstones for this film, Stephanie Rothman’s The Velvet Vampire (1971)—stars as Elaine, an enigmatic widow who moves from San Francisco to a small California coastal town after the death of her husband. On the surface, Elaine’s worldview appears pathetically retrograde; she’s obsessed with finding true love through witchcraft and believes that a woman should devote herself to fulfilling her man’s every desire. But there’s a subversive edge to this philosophy, and not just because Elaine kills her lovers if they disappoint her (and they always do).

Excerpt from AV Club located HERE


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

The Love Witch looks excellent on Blu-ray from Oscilloscope Laboratories. The camera used was the Arriflex 35 BL with the negative and printed film format being 35 mm. It is brilliantly sharp with extremely tight lines. Colors show depth and the visuals are consistent throughout. It was transferred to a dual-layered disc with a supportive bitrate for the 2-hour film. It pristine with a shade of gloss and it seems impressively crisp - notable in the many close-ups. This Blu-ray has reproduced a very strong 1080P presentation. Wow.






















Audio :

Oscilloscope give the choice of a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 2007 kbps or a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at a hefty 3237 kbps - both 24-bit. There is occasional but not an abundant amount of separation or effects and the transfer easily handles the audio requirements. The only music I recall was the 'Renaissance Fair' medieval flute-based pieces playing during that sequence but there is something composed by Anna Biller and performed by Giselle DaMier. There are optional English subtitles (see sample above) and my Oppo has identified it as being region FREE playable worldwide.


Extras :

Oscilloscope Laboratories add many extras including a revealing commentary recorded and produced by director Anna Biller and featuring her in conversation with cinematographer M. David Mullen, star Samantha Robinson, and actor/producer Jared Sanford. It's not fully prepared and much of the conversation is off-the-cuff remembering production details with Anna asking question of the others - interjecting tidbits. There is also 10-minutes of a Behind the Scenes with Anne Biller featurette plus a similar length interview with cinematographer M. David Mullen augmenting some of the detail of shooting the film that he had exported on the commentary. There are 2 Deleted, 2 Alternate Cuts and 8 Extended scenes - for the curious. We can see Samantha Robinson's Dance Audition - quasi-striptease lasting under 3-minutes plus both an unreleased trailer and a theatrical trailer.



The Love Witch is very interesting - a super package from Oscilloscope Laboratories. You can't talk about the film without addressing Samantha Robinson. This gal really has something going on with the camera and the 'witch' part suits her hypnotic look perfectly. She has a diabolical femme fatale visage - a bit chilling in her sexuality. One review describes the film as a "subversive homage to out-of-fashion genres" and I think The Love Witch is so layered you could use many similar descriptions. It's both simple and complex simultaneously - teasing with gender, heartbreak and relationships themes and then pulling away fulfilling the horror-related aspects and ironic 50's-like cheesecake impressions (with some actual cheesecake in the film!) I'm definitely going to watch this low budget effort again. This Blu-ray package is an easy recommendation. I didn't know what to expect and was very pleasantly surprised by my viewing. More Anna Biller and more Samantha Robinson please.

Gary Tooze

 March 10th, 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.

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Gary W. Tooze






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