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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Vampir Cuadecuc aka 'Cuadecuc, vampir' [Blu-ray]

 

(Pere Portabella, 1971)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Films 59

Video: Second Run

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:09:00.625  

Disc Size: 23,017,881,130 bytes

Feature Size: 14,493,683,712 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.96 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: October 9th, 2017

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.40:1

Resolution: 1080P / 25 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

Interview with director Pere Portabella (29:52)
An appreciation by William Fowler (19:36)
Shorts:
La Tempesta (2003 - 5:46)
No at No (2006 - 3:24)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Experimental documentary from director Pere Portabella. The film follows the shooting of Jesús Franco's 'Count Dracula' (1970) starring Christopher Lee, Herbert Lom and Soledad Miranda, featuring behind-the-scenes footage of the production process accompanied by a soundtrack from Catalan artist and musician Carles Santos.

 

 

The Film:

The film creates a ravishing netherworld that seems to exist in neither the 19th century nor the 20th but in a unique zone oscillating between these eras, just as it seems to occupy a realm of its own that is neither fiction nor non-fiction... But above all is an all-embracing sensual pleasure and humour overriding centuries, generic categories, and conventions.

Excerpt from Jonathan Rosenbaum

The entire film is photographed on high contrast black & white film stock, which gives it the appearance of a degraded film print, evoking early Expressionist horror films such as F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu or Carl Theodor Dreyer's Vampyr. It was shot on the set of Jesus Franco's Count Dracula, starring Christopher Lee and Herbert Lom. The sound track is by frequent Portabella collaborator Carles Santos, and the only spoken dialogue in the film appears only in the last scene, which features Lee reading from Bram Stoker's original novel.

Lee would appear in another Portabella film the same year--Umbracle. The word "cuadecuc" is the Catalan word for "worm's tail." The term also refers to the unexposed footage at the end of a roll of film.

Excerpt from Wikipedia located HERE

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

Vampir Cuadecuc looks gorgeous Blu-ray from Second Run. It' on a single-layered disc with a supportive bitrate for the hour 10-minute film. the heavily stylized appearance works so well in 1080P. Vampir Cuadecuc is an absolute visual treat exhibiting a luscious, rich image in the 1.40:1 frame (because of the degraded and frayed-edge appearance this can vary).  The methods used in processing the footage create a varying look from being drenched in grain to blown-out with violent contrast. It's fascinating to watch. This Blu-ray of Vampir Cuadecuc significantly enhances the visual style and creating it's own unique atmosphere. It's hard to describe its appeal but it share some eye-appeal with avante-garde and I did keep thinking of Guy Maddin's cinema creations.

 

NOTE: This was a second disc SD extra on Severin's Blu-ray package of Count Dracula.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

As there is almost no dialogue in the film - just some brief reading by Lee at the very end, the audio of the film plays a very important role in supporting the eclectic visuals. It does so with an equally varied score by Carles Santos - noted for minimalist compositions and a leaning to an exciting new, unbound, style. It can range for solo piano to orchestral accompaniment with intense building bass and, adding the dramatic effects (from a jackhammer to opera), it is as atmospheric as the image. It is transferred in an uncompressed linear PCM 2.0 channel (16-bit)and is highly impacting on the viewing experiences. There are no subtitles, nor really the need for them, and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE!

 

 

Extras :

Extras include a 1/2 hour interview with director Pere Portabella in Spanish with English subtitles. He articulates, fairly formally, many details of how the project came to life, the photographic process - conversations with a Kodak representative, how the sound of the film was established and much more. He's highly intelligent and extremely knowledgeable about his craft and it's always beneficial hearing people like that. There is also a 20-minute appreciation by William Fowler who touches upon the political themes possibly surrounding the film, the effect of the film's abundant style and how its mixture of horror and avant-garde may be more interpretationally accepting today than it was initially. There are also a couple of shorts: La Tempesta from 2003 and No at No with a focus around a piano.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I found Vampir Cuadecuc much more interesting than Jesús Franco's 'Count Dracula' (1970) where the footage
was derived. This is something you could really get hooked on. I've watched it three times now. While the film's plot is vague - most will inherently follow the horror based intent - vampires, a large spooky estate, the, mostly, gothic style, the silent performances, horse-drawn carriage in a fog-encroaching forest, attractive women succumbing to the netherworld's charms etc. With the music and sound effects it's really wonderful  - on a level that's hard to describe. The Second Run Blu-ray provides an excellent a/v presentation with appreciated supplements. The feature is short but don't let that stop you - what a surprising, unique pleasure. Strongly recommended to adventurous cinephiles! 

Gary Tooze

September 28th, 2017

 




 

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