Italian Gothic (on Blu

Blu-ray The Vampires 00

Artistic note: Red StarRed StarRed Starhalf red stargray star(3.5/5)

Synopsis

In Paris, a serial killer attacks young women whom he empties of their blood. While the police are bogged down, journalist Pierre Valentin conducts his own investigation. In contact with a friend of the first victim, he learns that all were followed by a drug addict. His trail leads him to Dr. Du Grand whose experiments on eternal life could explain that his supposed niece Gisèle displays an insolent youth…

• Original title: I Vampiri
• Media tested: Blu-ray
• Genre: horror
• Year: 1957
• Direction: Riccardo Freda and Mario Bava
• Cast: Gianna Maria Canale, Carlo D’Angelo, Dario Michaelis, Antoine Balpêtré, Renato Tontini, Wandisa Guida, Angelo Galassi, Paul Muller
• Duration: 1 h 21 min 31
• Video format: 16:9
• Cine format: 2.35/1 CinemaScope Black and White
• Subtitling: French
• Soundtracks: DTS-HD MA 2.0 monophonic Italian, French
• Bonus: Digibook limited to 2000 copies with the Blu-ray (81mn 31) and the DVD of the film (78 mn 15) – booklet “Les Vampires: Un armchair pour deux” (24 pages) – the film seen by Christophe Gans ( 2022, 45 mn 00) – presentation of the film by Olivier Père (2022, 22 mn 29) – deleted scenes and additional American sequences for Lust for the Vampire (VOST, 10 mn 44) – original trailers (VO, 2 mn 35, 1 mn 38)
• Publisher: Sidonis Calysta

Art commentary

Ahead of the wave of gothic horror Hammer (Dracula’s Nightmare1958) in European neighborhood cinemas, The vampires will be the first Italian horror film. It was directed by Riccardo Freda and Mario Bava, for whom this is the first official collaboration. The idea for the film germinated with the two authors during the shooting of Beatrice Cence (1956) but originally Riccardo Freda wanted to make a fantastic film in the expressionist vein, which had never been done in Italy. He then proposed to the producers a recording with sound effects of his future film which will be produced according to the insane wager (see bonus) of a script written in a few hours, shot in 12 days and acceptable to the censors! The film will be largely directed by Riccardo Freda but will be completed, after his departure, by Mario Bava who was also the director of photography. Badly perceived in Italy, the film will be reworked with additional sequences (see bonus), not shot by the authors, for a release in the USA under the title Lust of the Vampire. The version finished by Mario Bava differs significantly from the original script, ends differently, and makes journalist Pierre Lantin (Dario Michaelis) the hero of the plot, even if the character of Giselle du Grand, played by the superb Gianna Maria Canale ( at the time wife of Riccardo Freda and actress of almost all his films, in particular Theodora, Empress of Byzantium, 1954) and inspired by the famous Countess Elizabeth Bathory, monopolizes the attention. Located in France (allusion to the film by Louis Feuillade The vampires, 1915, according to Christophe Gans: cf. bonus) in a Paris of the 50s, cleverly composed by Mario Bava of models and Matte Paintingsthe film The vampires has a script mixing many influences, including Edgar Allan Poe. Very curiously, the film makes no direct allusion (biting and sucking) to the classic myth of the vampire and prefers to exploit the theme of eternal youth. The lack of means forced Riccardo Freda to shoot in the studio in existing sets that Mario Bava will sublimate by using with class the aesthetics of black and white CinemaScope. It was he who managed to age the countess by using special make-up revealed by the lighting. It is moreover the photographic work of Mario Bava which today charms more than the fantastic and morbid character of the plot, slowed down by numerous talkative or secondarily explanatory sequences. Specialists are still discussing the film’s impact The vampires and believe, most often, that this precursor film was released too early to attract the public and that the wave of Italian horror cinema of the 60s only really started after the screenings of the Hammer films. With hindsight, it doesn’t matter, it will suffice to leave surprised by the beauty of the image which gives the Baroque decorations (castle, crypt) a nostalgic and visually fascinating intensity which remains a remarkable example of the fantastic Gothic vein. The quality of the restoration adds to the pleasure of seeing (or seeing again) this very beautiful film by the duo Freda/Bava in which we can find the renowned French actor Antoine Balpêtré from the Comédie Française.

Blu-ray The Vampires

Technical Comment

Image : HD copy, restored version, HD Master, surgical definition, breathtaking sharpness, fine and homogeneous silver texture (shooting in 35 mm CinemaScope), flawless management of contrasts, very bright image, deep blacks, harmonious range of grays, nuanced whites, very clean and stable image

His : Italian 2.0 monophonic mix, very clear and balanced dialogues, no distortion, excellent dynamics on the atmospheres and on the music of Franco Mannino and Roman Vlad, no background noise and other faults; VF 2.0 monophonic, clear and dynamic, without saturation, neat but unconvincing dubbing

Our opinion

Image : Red StarRed StarRed StarRed StarRed Star(5/5)
Sound mixes: blue Starblue Starblue Starhalf blue stargray star(3.5/5)
Bonuses: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed Stargray star(4/5)
Packaging: blue Starblue Starblue Starhalf blue stargray star(3.5/5)

IMDb :

Digipack Blu-ray/DVD available on Amazon

Other articles that may interest you on ON-mag and the rest of the web


Italian Gothic (on Blu-ray and DVD)