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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Vampire > Monster > Erotic > Creature > Supernatural > Thriller > Haunted > Italy > Daughters of Darkness/The House By The Cemetery/The Nesting (1971 – 81/Blue Underground Blu-rays)

Daughters of Darkness/The House By The Cemetery/The Nesting (1971 – 81/Blue Underground Blu-rays)


Picture: B/B/B-     Sound: B     Extras: A/B+/C     Films: B/B+/C+



Daughters Of Darkness was an international production that bore some very iconic imagery which has since been assimilated into horror and Goth culture.  It's easy to understand why, as the every part of the film, from the direction and cinematography on to the beautiful actresses and slightly over the top costuming transpired to make a unique visual statement.  If only the film itself had lived up to its looks, we'd be looking at one of the very best horror films ever made.


I don't mean to come down on the film, as it is exceptionally good, but it does suffer from a lack of purpose and very little in the way of anything actually happening. Delphine Seyrig is the ageless Elizabeth Bathory, and she and her young companion have come to a grand hotel shortly after the arrival of a newlywed couple - the only other occupants in the hotel at the time.  Bathory takes an interest in the young couple - particularly the young woman, who she soon has under her power.


Whether you agree with me that the film drags a bit or not, I don't think there is any denying that the film has a raw power to it, and the slowed pacing is at times quite advantageous.  Its violence seems all the more real and upsetting when you're torn out of your expectations of where the film will go.  A healthy measure of sexual tension pulling you through some dull spots also doesn't hurt, but be mindful that the film was created with a mature audience in mind.  If the enticement of lesbian romance is all that you're in for, you'd best look elsewhere.


Overall, I found the film to be enjoyable, and one that I'm very glad exists just the way it is.  I'd recommend to those interested in checking out Gothic horrors - a style that has been far too neglected in the modern age of filmmaking.


As a director of genre features, Lucio Fulci fully understood the marriage of themes and ideas it took to make a gore film like The House By The Cemetery into an exciting ride of a movie.  It delivers the goods in ways that audiences today just aren't used to anymore.  In here the blood and suspense go hand in hand - unlike most new horrors that are generally stripped of one or the other, often to their detriment.  Here, though, is a film that has enough good ideas in it to make it feel like more than just your average haunted house picture.


Although the plot starts out typically enough, with a family moving away from the big city and into a spooky house out in the country, it takes a few unexpected turns along the way.  It would initially seem that the place is just haunted; however, the previous owner of the home, Dr. Freudstein, is still alive in the basement.  The murderous doctor has remained in the house and needs to kill so that he may replenish his body in order to stay alive.  His leathery, undead appearance is a gruesome highlight of the film, and was a direct inspiration for the Dr. Satan character in Rob Zombie's House Of 1,000 Corpses.


The sounds and atmosphere of the film are superbly chilling, and you're almost guaranteed never to experience anything like it these days.  Sure, it wasn't written by a master of the form, and the dubbing can be pretty atrocious.  I'll agree that isn't always the most “professional” of films, but unlike most modern horror films, it gets the job done by doing what it's supposed to do.


Lastly, we have The Nesting, a haunted house movie in a traditional vein.  In it, we have a novelist renting a house in the country to get over a case of writer's block.  Unwittingly, the place she makes home in also happened to be a brothel during the war and this was the site of a major bloodbath.  Soon she begins to encounter the ghosts of those killed in the long-ago massacre.


No, there isn't much of anything new here, but it was filmed well enough and hits what notes it's supposed to.  The way the film has been shot has some traits typical of a well made late '70s XXX film.  This isn't all that much of a surprise, as the film was directed by Armand Weston – the adult filmmaker responsible for the classic, Take Off – a hardcore retelling of The Picture of Dorian Gray.  The film won him the AFAA award for best director in 1978, so apparently he had the chops to make some professional product.


This movie is decent, and has some slasher elements to it in addition to those of the haunted house film - something that other horror creations of this period often seemed to do in order to mix things up a bit.  While it's obviously not going to set the world on fire, if you're just looking for a new fix, you could do worse than to add this title to your watch list.


All of these films look and sound great in hi-def, with lossless sound mixes and full 1080p resolution. Daughters Of Darkness is presented in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio with English and French language options in DTS-HD 1.0 Mono.  The House By The Cemetery is shown 2.35:1, and features an English track in 2.0 DTS-HD as well as an Italian track in Mono.  The Nesting is in 1.85:1 and features three English language tracks – one in 7.1 DTS-HD, another in 5.1 Dolby surround, and another in mono.


Although The Nesting is a little light on bonus content, both Daughters Of Darkness and The House By The Cemetery have a slew of special features to sweeten the deal.  Among these are several interviews with cast and crew, trailers and deleted scenes.  However, the best bonus out of these sets goes to Daughters Of Darkness, which contains an entire feature film as an extra: 1972's The Blood Splattered Bride!  It's only in 480i and isn't the best vampire movie ever made, but hey, it's free.


These are proof that Blue Underground is thriving on the new format, and thankfully they continue to reissue and upgrade older releases as well as introduce some new stuff.  All three of these discs would make fine additions to the horror fanatics growing Blu-ray library.



-   David Milchick


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