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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Action > Terrorism > Murder > Kidnapping > Treasure Hunt > Horror > Drugs > Supernatural > Italia > The Deep (1977/Columbia/Sony/Umbrella Region Free Blu-ray)/Dropping Evil (2012/MVD DVD)/The Night Of The Devils (1972/RaroVideo DVD)/Suspiria (1977/Umbrella Region B Blu-ray)

The Deep (1977/Columbia/Sony/Umbrella Region Free Blu-ray)/Dropping Evil (2012/MVD DVD)/The Night Of The Devils (1972/RaroVideo DVD)/Suspiria (1977/Umbrella Region B Blu-ray)


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



PLEASE NOTE: The Deep import Blu-ray here is Region Free imports and will play on all machines worldwide despite being marked as Region B, while the import Suspiria Blu-ray is marked as a Region B disc which turns out to be true & will only play on machines that can play that region and both can be ordered from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment at the website address provided at the end of the review.




In time for Halloween 2012, here are some more titles to look at in time for the holiday.



With all the talk of the Jaws Blu-ray, only a few of its imitators and hoped-for hits to ride on its blockbuster success have been issued on Blu-ray.  The British journeyman British director Peter Yates was hired by Columbia Pictures to adapt The Deep (1977) into a feature film.  Also based on a Peter Benchley book, the studio made it a high profile release, but the results were mixed commercial and critical success.  Robert Shaw is even here, playing a treasure (and not shark) hunter whose search for a fortune drags a vacationing couple (Nick Nolte and Jacqueline Bisset entering sexy cinema history with those ever-discussed wet t-shirt appearances) into the madness to come.


When a sunken WWII ship turns up at the bottom of the sea where they are diving, they run into a different kind of treasure in huge, heaping amounts of illegal morphine.  Too bad a Haitian drug lord (Louis Gossett Jr. in good form) turns up and a deadly race for that haul and survival begins.


Though not an outright horror film, it does have some of that feel and edge as it is constantly suggests that something really bad is just around the corner, so the film is trying to surprise the audience and Yates (Bullitt, Suspect) is capable of good directing.  In this case, I found the film to have mixed results despite a fine cast (including Eli Wallach), good look, nice locales and some chemistry throughout.  This is a first-rate production, but it misses the mark a bit and part of the problem is simply trying to make the book into0 a film and which parts to keep.


Sony licensed this to Image in the U.S. for Blu-ray two years ago and Umbrella offers a Region Free Blu-ray (mislabeled Region B) that seems to be the same video master.  The extras back my point as we get select scenes from the 3-hour TV version (some footage is censored, while other footage was added) making for an interesting comparison, plus a featurette The Making Of The Deep (49 minutes) is also included.  Wish more films were this ambitious.



At the other end of the spectrum is Dropping Evil (2012) about a Christian God-loving nerdy type who is slipped LSD by people who don’t like him, only to have him go on a killing rampage against them!  The idea had some potential and Fred Williamson even shows up, but between an incoherent script, lack of concentration, tired Grindhouse-style ambitions and mixed energy, this never works and when they land up in yet another cabin in the middle of nowhere, you know any potential is deader than any of the upcoming victims.


In comparison to The Deep, it never takes drugs seriously and any murders are a joke like the acting.  Too bad.  Extras include some Short Films, Deleted Scenes of little use, Music Videos (?) and Trailers.



Going over to Italy, Giorgio Ferroni’s The Night Of The Devils (1972 aka La Notte dei Diavoli) also involves delusional visions, but what we get here is all supernatural as a sick man (Gianni Garko) is in a mental hospital seeing images of blood, murder and violence.  We find out that he was driving around the countryside when he came upon a family that lived alone in a house and has some kind of curse.  This happens when his FIAT car breaks down, so he gets to know them by default, but something is very wrong upon arrival.


At first, they have secrets to hide, even with two young children around, but then our car owner sees a mysterious woman who might know more than they’re willing to tell him and some killer creature with powerful claws is on the loose, which is why they board up their windows and secure them.  What is this creature?  What do they have to do with it?  Who might be killed next?  Can it be killed?


I like how the film slowly starts up and gets better as it goes along, but the payoff is not always great and having not seen it for many decades, it is nice to see it in this restored RaroVideo DVD version very widescreen, helping deliver the film the way it should be seen.  The cast and acting is good too, but the payoff not as memorable and ending a little problematic.  Still, it is worth a look, especially if you like this kind of filmmaking, as it is a very ambitious work and the make-up is by Carlo Rambaldi of E.T. and Alien fame.


Extras include an hour-long interview with Composer Giorgio Gaslini that is very thorough and Chris Alexander from Fangoria Magazine telling us how much he loves the film (you might want to see it after watching the film), while the DVD case includes a well-illustrated booklet on the film including informative text, essay by Alexander and text of Alexander interviewing Gaslini.



Also from Italy is Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977), made only five years later and is one of his best-known films.  We originally covered the Limited Edition DVD version from Anchor Bay in its older transfer at this link:




This is one of two Blu-rays versions off of the newly restored 35mm print that has been circulating for a while and neither version has turned up in the U.S., so we’ll see who lands up releasing it.  Fortunately, color, depth and detail are all improved over the DVD version, but original Director of Photography Luciano Tovoli (Tenebre, Titus, Antonioni’s The Passenger) made some changes in color in some shots and that might make some diehard purists unhappy.  However, it is impressive overall despite some soft shots (hard to tell if it is the transfer to disc or the master itself, so we’ll known when we can compare to another Blu-ray versions) and this has extras different from another Blu-ray of the film also making it into some markets.


Extras in this version include a repeat of the 25th Anniversary Documentary from the Anchor Bay DVD, an exclusive Argento interview, An Eye For Horror documentary, Fear At 400 Degrees: The Cine-Express of Suspiria documentary, Photo Gallery, International Trailer, U.S. Trailer, TV Spot and other Argento trailers.  That’s a great set of extras and diehard fans will want this one, the older DVD (if they can get it) and the other version with other extras to be completists.




The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on The Deep and Suspiria Blu-rays are the best performers here, with The Deep showing some grain, but the scope frame was shot nicely in real 35mm anamorphic Panavision by Christopher Challis, B.S.C. (who passed away earlier in 2012), is totally present here with expect grain, natural color range and a print in pretty good shape.  Suspiria has some softness, but the film was shot in real 35mm anamorphic Technovision by Tavoli (as noted above) and the increased fidelity (with some reservations) increases the atmosphere and overall rich look and feel of the film.  I think it is just that much better than the DVD and not a severe revision as what happened with a new Blu-ray of Argento’s Bird With The Crystal Plumage (the sides were cut off to 1.78  X 1 and some color shots were made black and white, which is a problem for me) making the older Blu-ray very valuable.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Evil is soft, noisy and tries to feign older film color, but that attempt is as limited as the LSD color-range.  Again, the makers were being too silly and may have missed a nice opportunity to make something better.


That leaves the anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Devils shot in Techniscope by Manuel Berenguer, A.S.C., but instead of being processed by Technicolor in three-strip, dye-transfer prints, they cut costs by developing it in a simpler single-color process from the S.P.E.S. lab in Italy.  This is not to say the color is not good or wide-ranging, but just not as much as Technicolor.  A nice new HD transfer, I hope we see a Blu-ray as the softness here is at least 50% from the format.


The Dolby TrueHD on the Blu-rays for The Deep and Suspiria happen to be from films originally issued in 4-track magnetic stereo on their best 35mm film prints.  Suspiria already had a DTS-ES 6.1 mix on its DVD and this mix is just as good despite missing a track, is warmer and a little more wide ranging.  Still, the film can show its age and The Deep even more so as the sound is often more in the front and cent channels than I would have liked, but the John Barry score is a big plus for the film overall.


The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Evil is the most competent thing about the film and it is still lacking in consistent sonics and smoother editing, while the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Devils is here in dubbed Italian and a more distorted dubbed English where the music tends to be warped whereas it is just fine on the better-anyhow Italian track.


As noted above, you can order the import versions of The Deep and Suspiria Blu-rays exclusively from Umbrella at:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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