Overall | Deep Red (Profondo rosso) (AV Channel) (1975) | Tenebrae (1982) | Phenomena (AV Channel) (1984)

Argento Classics-Volume 1 (1975)

Argento Classics-Volume 1 (1975)

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Released 15-Jan-2007

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Overall Package

    Dario Argento has a name synonymous with the macabre side of filmmaking, and as a director he has been responsible for some of the most notorious thrillers in the last fifty years. Argento's most well known films, Suspiria and Deep Red, are still being emulated almost 30 years after their production, and understandably so. The Italian director's unique style is instantly recognisable and combines amazing visual elements that lend themselves to an incredible visual atmosphere. In a trend that is similar to many other renowned horror directors, Argento spent much of his childhood alone and sick, learning to enjoy little interaction with other children. A keen reader from a very young age, he picked up a volume containing the works of morbid poet Edgar Allen Poe, which steered him in the direction we find him today.

    This collection brings together three of Dario Argento's films from different part of his career. Deep Red (Profondo Rosso) is the oldest and most well known of these, while Phenomena (Creepers) has a very strong cast. If you don't own any of these already, this collection may prove to be good value.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Thursday, February 08, 2007
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Overall | Deep Red (Profondo rosso) (AV Channel) (1975) | Tenebrae (1982) | Phenomena (AV Channel) (1984)

Deep Red (Profondo rosso) (AV Channel) (1975)

Deep Red (Profondo rosso) (AV Channel) (1975)

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Released 21-Apr-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Audio
Featurette-An Eye For Horror (56:48)
Interviews-Cast & Crew-Dario Argento & Claudio Simonetti (12:59)
Featurette-Making Of-25th Anniversarry (10:48)
Theatrical Trailer-(2)
Trailer-Tenebrae; Phenomena; The Bird With the Crystal Plumage
Trailer-Deep Red; The Cat O' Nine Tails
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1975
Running Time 126:32 (Case: 123)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (90:28) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Dario Argento
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring David Hemmings
Daria Nicolodi
Gabriele Lavia
Macha Méril
Eros Pagni
Giuliana Calandra
Piero Mazzinghi
Glauco Mauri
Clara Calamai
Aldo Bonamano
Liana Del Balzo
Vittorio Fanfoni
Dante Fioretti
Case ?
RPI ? Music Giorgio Gaslini
Goblin
Walter Martino


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, soft drinks and cigarettes.
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Profondo Rosso (Deep Red) stands along with Suspiria as not only one of the finest thrillers of the 70s, but also one of Dario Argento's finest efforts.

    Marcus Daly (David Hemmings), an English pianist, teaches at a conservatory in Rome and finds himself often working late. On his way home one evening he discovers a woman, brutally murdered in his building. The police attend the crime scene, as does a vivacious reporter, Gianna (Daria Nicolodi), who drives a car with a mini-bar in the glove box. Marcus is fascinated by the crime and takes it upon himself to begin his own investigations. Gianna tags along in the beginning, against his wishes, and together they discover that the key to the killer's identity lies in an old, dilapidated house on the outskirts of Rome. The problem is, the killer seems to know all of his moves in advance. As he draws closer to discovering the culprit, the risk of falling prey to a madman becomes greater and greater.

    Deep Red is a fascinating film on several levels, most notably as an analysis of the interpretation of truth and the reliability of human memory. Marcus is continually struggling to make sense of what he sees and doubts what he remembers. Argento's direction is smooth and dream-like throughout, buoyed by the fabulous score by Goblin. The interaction between the leads Hemmings and Nicolodi is exceptional, and a key to the film's believability.

    If you've been considering checking out some of Dario Argento's work, Deep Red is a great place to start.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This video transfer seems to be derived from an NTSC source and exhibits film artefacts identical to the Region 1 Anchor Bay disc I have on hand. Their runtimes are identical, however, the conversion process and excessive MPEG compression have left our transfer looking very poor indeed.

    The film has been transferred to DVD in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement.

    The image is not particularly sharp, nor is the level of detail worth recognising. Shadow detail is a little muddy, but black levels appear to be relatively solid.

    Most colours are handled adequately. Being derived from an NTSC source, the transfer does exhibit rendering flaws when it comes to extreme reds such as blood. Otherwise, there are no dire colour issues.

    MPEG over-compression is the dominant issue here. The conversion from PAL to NTSC has created overlapping frames that are difficult to render at a low bitrate. The NTSC Anchor Bay transfer (which I presume is the source for our transfer) has been encoded with a variable bitrate averaging over 6 Mb/s. Our transfer has been compressed further, averaging 4 Mb/s. Film artefacts can be seen intermittently, but never become overly concerning. There are a few dirty spots and the odd scratch or two, but the source print is in an otherwise good condition.

    An English subtitle stream is activated by default to translate a few passages of Italian dialogue that appear.When the ideal cut of the film was restored, it was realised that some portions of the film has no English dub. In these scenes the Italian dub has been inserted.

    This disc is dual layered, with the layer transition placed during the feature at 90:28 during a still, silent moment mid-scene.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The only soundtrack included is English Dolby Digital 2.0, encoded at a rather flimsy 192Kb/s. As I mentioned above, there are some passages of Italian that have been inserted to fill gaps left by missing passages of the English dub. The cast clearly perform in a mixture of both Italian and English language, so determining the 'original' soundtrack language is irrelevant because both are fully dubbed.

    The dialogue varies in quality, but is generally stable. The ADR quality is pretty rough. Some scenes appear to be synced well, while others are like watching an episode of Magic Monkey.

    I attempted to process the audio with Pro Logic II enabled, but the result wasn't inspiring.

    The score by Goblin is pure magic. This score started a new wave of film scoring and founded a sound that would become synonymous with Argento's work in the 70s. Not only does the score blend perfectly with the visuals, it is highly memorable.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu system is static and includes 16x9 enhancement. The main menu is accompanied by an audio clip of Goblin's fantastic score.

Documentary - Dario Argento - An Eye For Horror (56:48)

    This is a well made documentary, following the life and career of Argento from his childhood, through his work as a movie critic and into his early work in the industry as a script writer for Sergio Leoni. Each of his major feature films are touched upon, as well as a number of his more obscure projects and collaborations. An array of recognisable celebrities lend themselves to this biography, including filmmakers John Carpenter and George Romero, actor Michael Brandon, his ex-wife and former muse Daria Nicolodi, actress Jessica Harper and horror fan Alice Cooper. Members of his family also offer their thoughts on his visual style, enduring popularity and work ethic, most notably his brother Claudio and daughters Asia and Fiore. This docco is presented in an aspect of 1.78:1 but is unfortunately not 16x9 enhanced.

Interview - Dario Argento (Writer/ Director), Claudio Simonetti (Composer) (12:59)

    Argento and Simonetti discuss their past work and what led to their specific approach in Profondo Rosso. We also get to have a look at Argento's Profondo Rosso Shop in Rome while Tim Burton has a browse through the bargain bins.

Featurette - 25th Anniversary (10:48)

    Taken from the Region 1 Anchor Bay disc, this short featurette crams a lot of info into its short runtime. Argento discusses many aspects of the production, while a reunited Goblin explain how they came to participate in the film.

Theatrical Trailer (2:43)

    A few flashes of scary imagery from the film, with the obligatory deep-throated voiceover.

Italian Theatrical Trailer (1:50)

    A very stylish trailer, impressive even by today's standards.

Argento Trailers (5)

    In addition to the two above trailers for Deep Red, there are trailers for Tenebrae, Phenomena, The Bird With the Crystal Plumage and The Cat O' Nine Tails.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 Anchor Bay release (126:32 NTSC) includes the following additional extras:

    The Region 1 misses out on:

    Our disc wins on extras, whereas the Anchor Bay release has far superior transfer quality. For me, a quality transfer will always win over extra material. You decide.

Summary

    Deep Red is a fantastic thriller and one of Argento's best.

    The video transfer has been sourced from an NTSC master.

    The audio transfer is thin.

    The extras are worthwhile viewing.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using DVI output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3806 (via Denon Link 3)
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

Other Reviews NONE
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Dub? -

Overall | Deep Red (Profondo rosso) (AV Channel) (1975) | Tenebrae (1982) | Phenomena (AV Channel) (1984)

Tenebrae (1982)

Tenebrae (1982)

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Released 21-Apr-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Audio Commentary-Dario Argento (Director), Claudio Simonetti (Composer) et al
Interviews-Cast & Crew-Dario Argento & Daria Nicolodi (36:48)
Featurette-An Eye For Horror (56:48)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Camera Equipment
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Sound FX
Alternative Version-credits (2:15)
Theatrical Trailer-(2)
Trailer-Deep Red; Phenomena; The Bird With the Crystal Plumage
Trailer-Tenebrae; The Cat O' Nine Tails
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1982
Running Time 96:24 (Case: 105)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (85:18) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Dario Argento
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Anthony Franciosa
Christian Borromeo
Mirella D'Angelo
Veronica Lario
Ania Pieroni
Eva Robins
Carola Stagnaro
John Steiner
Lara Wendel
John Saxon
Daria Nicolodi
Giuliano Gemma
Isabella Amadeo
Case ?
RPI ? Music Goblin
Massimo Morante
Fabio Pignatelli


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    New York novelist Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosca) is on the circuit promoting his new literary masterpiece, Tenebrae, a murderous tale that has the media in a frenzy. When he arrives in Rome to attend to media engagements, a killer begins a series of murders that mimic his popular novel. Because he is in town, the police question him and ask for his assistance, along with his secretary Anne (Daria Nicolodi). It soon becomes apparent that the killer is a fan of Neal, as letters begin appearing under his door together with bizarre phone calls. The frequency and intensity of the harassment increases, as does the killing, until Peter has a revelation and decides to confront the murderer himself.

    Tenebrae has all the trademarks of an Argento classic: a twisted, mysterious plot, a soundtrack score comprised of electronic, Goblin-like warblings, and many shots of the killer's gloved hands in action. The violence is particularly bloody and there are plenty of shocks along the way, however this is not quite up to the standard he set in classics such as Suspiria, Deep Red or Opera.

    I was surprised to learn that the role of Peter Neal was originally written for Christopher Walken, however this was changed when Argento deemed him too young for the part. Such a convincing lead in this film might have been very interesting, but Franciosca does an admirable job all the same.

    Tenebrae is a decent thriller for fans of Argento's work, but others may be better off starting with one of his more accessible films.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This transfer appears to be an NTSC conversion.

    The film has been transferred to DVD in a cropped aspect ratio of 1.78:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement. This relatively close to the film's original 1.85:1 theatrical aspect.

    The image is not particularly sharp. Shadow detail is average and black levels are relatively solid.

    Most colours are handled adequately. I didn't note any dire issues such as bleeding or oversaturation.

    MPEG compression artefacts amount to grain and the odd moment of blocking. Film artefacts are also common, but they are not a serious issue. There are a few spots and scratches on the source print, but nothing too annoying.

    There are no subtitles.

    This disc is dual layered, with the layer transition placed during the feature at 85:18. This position does interrupt the soundtrack score a little.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The only soundtrack included is English Dolby Digital 2.0, encoded at a rather flimsy 192Kb/s. The cast clearly perform in a mixture of both Italian and English language, but the performances have all been re-recorded in English.

    The dialogue varies in quality, but is generally stable. I noted a number of moments of mild distortion in the dialogue, but these are few. The ADR quality is pretty rough, I'm afraid. Some scenes appear to be synced relatively well, while others are terrible.

    I attempted to process the audio with Pro Logic II enabled, and found some dedicated use of the rear channels. Some scenes direct a mild amount of the score to the rears, while at 61:53 there is a clear foley effect of breaking glass.

    The score is by Claudio Simonetti and other former members of progressive rock group Goblin. The score is highly memorable, however it doesn't quite match the magic of Suspiria or Deep Red.

    There was no subwoofer usage that I could discern.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu system is static, silent and 16x9 enhanced.

Feature Commentary - Dario Argento (Director), Claudio Simonetti (Composer) & Loris Curci (Journalist)

    This is another informative commentary, made all the better by Loris, who acts as mediator. Comparisons are made with the Italian version as well as cuts that were applied to the film during its theatrical run. Simonetti is introduced about ten minutes into the commentary, and explains the demise of Goblin and the legalities of their split. They seem to have experimented quite a bit while recording the score, as well as deciding to use drum programming for the first time.

Interview - Dario Argento (Writer/ Director) & Daria Nicolodi (Actress) (36:48)

    A rare English interview with the couple, hosted by a virtually unrecognisable Richard Frayling. This piece was recorded for television while the pair were promoting Tenebrae. Dario discusses his early career, while Daria explains her love of theatre. Suspiria is also analysed a great deal, from casting to the specific film stock he uses. After discussing advances in camera technology, he explains his work with composers such as Moriccone and Simonetti. This is a detailed and informative interview.

Documentary - Dario Argento - An Eye For Horror (56:48)

    This is a well made documentary, following the life and career of Argento from his childhood, through his work as a movie critic and into his early work in the industry as a script writer for Sergio Leoni. Each of his major feature films are touched upon, as well as a number of his more obscure projects and collaborations. An array of recognisable celebrities lend themselves to this biography, including filmmakers John Carpenter and George Romero, actor Michael Brandon, Argento's ex-wife and former muse Daria Nicolodi, actress Jessica Harper and horror fan Alice Cooper. Members of his family also offer their thoughts on his visual style, enduring popularity and work ethic, most notably his brother Claudio and daughters Asia and Fiore. This doco is presented in an aspect of 1.78:1 but is unfortunately not 16x9 enhanced.

Behind The Scenes Featurettes (2)

    There are two short featurettes, each covering different aspects of the production.

Alternate Credits (2:15)

    During the commentary, Argento and Simonetti react to a pop song that had been inserted into the credit sequence without their knowledge. Because the film presented on this disc is the restored version, this short piece shows the credits in their altered form. The song is hideous.

Theatrical Trailer (3:14)

    This is a typical trailer of the period that gives away a little of the plot of the film, but focuses more on the shocking imagery contained therein.

Argento Trailers (5)

    In addition to the aforementioned Tenebrae, trailers here include Deep Red, Phenomena, The Bird With the Crystal Plumage and The Cat O' Nine Tails.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 Anchor Bay disc (100:24, NTSC) includes the following additional features:

    Since this title has been released in many territories, the range of extras included vary greatly.

Summary

    Tenebrae is a good thriller, but not Argento's best.

    The video transfer is not the fully uncut version, but it's only missing brief shots.

    The audio transfer is thin, but does the job.

    The extras are informative.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using DVI output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3806 (via Denon Link 3)
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
NTSC Transfer? -

Overall | Deep Red (Profondo rosso) (AV Channel) (1975) | Tenebrae (1982) | Phenomena (AV Channel) (1984)

Phenomena (AV Channel) (1984)

Phenomena (AV Channel) (1984)

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Released 21-Apr-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Filmmakers
Interviews-Crew-Dario Argento (Director)
Interviews-Crew-Claudio Simonetti (Composer)
Featurette-Documentary: An Eye For Horror
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-2
Music Video-Claudio Simonetti
Music Video-Bill Wyman
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Argento Trailers - 5
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1984
Running Time 109:56 (Case: 111)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (59:02) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Dario Argento
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Jennifer Connelly
Daria Nicolodi
Dalila Di Lazzaro
Patrick Bauchau
Donald Pleasence
Fiore Argento
Federica Mastroianni
Fiorenza Tessari
Mario Donatone
Francesca Ottaviani
Michele Soavi
Franco Trevisi
Fausta Avelli
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Claudio Simonetti
Bruce Dickinson
Motorhead


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Dario Argento has a name synonymous with the macabre side of filmmaking, and as a director he has been responsible for some of the most notorious thrillers in the last fifty years. Argento's most well known films, Suspiria and Deep Red, are still being emulated almost 30 years after their production, and understandably so. The Italian director's unique style is instantly recognisable and combines amazing visual elements that lend themselves to an incredible visual atmosphere. In a trend that is similar to many other renowned horror directors, Argento spent much of his childhood alone and sick, learning to enjoy little interaction with other children. A keen reader from a very young age, he picked up a volume containing the works of morbid poet Edgar Allen Poe, which steered him in the direction we find him today.

    Phenomena stars Jennifer Connelly as Jennifer - a young student who has been sent to an all-girl Swiss boarding school by her rich father. A number of young women have disappeared recently and a serial killer is cited as the culprit, making the atmosphere at the school tense to say the least. Jennifer's sleepwalking problem only makes matters worse, and the staff at the school are less than sympathetic with her condition - labelling her as a diabolic nuisance. While out for a stroll one evening she meets wheelchair bound entomologist McGregor (Donald Pleasence), an expert in the field of insects, who helps her realise her unique ability to relate and communicate freely with all kinds of creepy crawlies. With the help of the Doctor and his chimpanzee assistant, Jennifer hits upon a method to catch the killer using her little insect friends.

    Argento's films aren't normally known for their quality acting performances, however Phenomena is certainly an exception. Donald Pleasence (Cul de Sac) and Jennifer Connelly (Dark City) are a superb pair on screen and each give very convincing performances throughout. Argento's wife at the time, Daria Nicolodi, appeared in a great deal of his films during this period and suffers a gruesome death in each and every one. Her final scenes in Phenomena are some of the most memorable of all Argento's films, and equally hilarious. The first assistant director of this film, Michele Soavi, gained a start in the industry under Argento and went on to make one of my all-time favourite zombie films, Dellamorte Dellamore starring Rupert Everett.

    Very few directors seem to have such an instinctive ear for the use of music in their films, and I would concede that Quentin Tarantino has a similarity with Dario Argento in this respect. Prior to Phenomena, a majority of Argento's films were scored by the excellent 70s progressive rock band Goblin, but by the time this film had entered production Goblin had parted ways, so it was left to former Goblin member Claudio Simonetti to compose the film's theme. In addition to Simonetti's haunting contribution, Argento borrowed pieces of music from heavy metal legends Iron Maiden and Motorhead to complete the film's soundtrack.

    Having an entomologist in the plot of the film opens the door for all manner of gross-out scenes involving maggots and creepy crawlies. In fact, the film's English title was originally changed to Creepers without Argento's consent, and much to his dismay - it is pretty lame compared to Phenomena, after all. Connelly reportedly had no problems shooting the film with her insect co-stars and was completely comfortable working with them. Weird!

    Phenomena is a good horror film and was quite popular upon release in Europe and particularly in Japan, where it made Connelly an overnight star. This isn't the best film from Argento's career, but his beautiful style and the great performances of the two leads makes this well above average for this genre. More of Argento's films are on the way for Region 4, so hail to Umbrella and the AV Channel for finally bringing us these classic films uncut.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This film has been transferred to DVD in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and is unfortunately not 16x9 enhanced.

    Sharpness and general clarity is adequate, and I have no doubt that this is the best condition we have seen this film in in Australia since its cinema run. There are many examples of solid blacks in this transfer and shadow detail remains consistently good throughout.

    Compression artefacts are nowhere to be seen, as they should be. A little grain can be seen here and there, but the most visible and eye-catching grain is evident during the slow motion special effects shot at 6:16. The print that has been used for this transfer is relatively clean aside from two noticeable artefacts; a large black speck at 53:35 and a water mark in the centre of the frame at 83:15. Aliasing is well controlled and doesn't present any real problems during the film.

    There is no subtitle stream on this disc. There are several lines of what I presume is German during the film but they are not translated at all.

    This disc is RSDL formatted (DVD9), with the layer transition placed during the feature at 59:02. The transitional pause is noticeably placed in a scene change that omits part of Pleasence's dialogue. To be specific, the first half of the word "diabolic" is omitted during the layer transition. I tested this layer change on several machines and found the result to be the same, regardless of brand or buffer.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is a Dolby Digital 2.0 (stereo) soundtrack included, encoded at 224Kb/s. A filmmaker's commentary is also selectable via the extras menu, and is encoded at a slightly higher bitrate than the feature's audio.

    Vocal delivery is always distinct but is sometimes let down by the limited fidelity of the source material. A significant amount, if not all of the dialogue in this film has been re-recorded in post production. ADR sync is okay most of the time, and pretty bad on some occasions.

    The soundtrack itself is in good condition and is relatively problem free, with very few pops or clicks to be worried about. The main issue here is a low output level and lack of clarity. For an example of what I mean, compare the main menu audio of the Iron Maiden song to any of the moments it is used in the film.

    The soundtrack score by Claudio Simonetti is a melodic and haunting blend of operatic vocals and rock instruments. The score is used perfectly to guide the viewer through the emotional highs and lows, while the contributions from Iron Maiden and Motorhead are perfect for their chosen scenes.

    There are many examples of stereo panning in the soundtrack, such as the distinct scream from the left channel at 92:05. A remix similar to the Anchor Bay releases of Argento's Opera and Susperia would have been awesome.

    Surround processing did nothing to enhance this stereo soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    A good selection of bonus features are included on the disc. All are presented without 16x9 enhancement unless otherwise noted.

Menu

    The menu system is static and includes 16x9 enhancement. The main menu is accompanied by Dolby Digital 2.0 audio of the classic Iron Maiden song Flash Of The Blade in its entirety (256Kb/s).

Feature Commentary - Dario Argento (Director), Claudio Simonetti (Composer), Sergio Stivaletti (Special Effects)

    This is an informative and entertaining commentary, with some very interesting insights into the making of this film and its score. All four of the gents speak in English, and although some of them do have problems with the odd word and phrase the commentary flows quite smoothly. Argento discusses his disappointment with the original releases of the film in the United States that were retitled and cut without his consent. The similarities between this and Argento's earlier film Suspiria are also raised, which Argento puts down to his obsession with strict all-girl schools. I was most surprised to hear Argento comment that he likes bits and pieces of his films, however he is generally dissatisfied with his efforts as a filmmaker and could not name a single film in his career that he likes from beginning to end.

Interview - Dario Argento (Writer/ Director) (1:22)

    The film's creator discusses how the premise for the story came about, and what key themes he intended to convey through the plot. Argento speaks in his native Italian here, while an English translation speaks over the top of him.

Interview - Claudio Simonetti (Composer/ Musician) (0:55)

    Claudio briefly explains his former role in the progressive rock band Goblin, and his delight in the film's main theme. This is also in Italian, with an English translation.

Documentary - Dario Argento - An Eye For Horror (56:48)

    This is a well made documentary, following the life and career of Argento from his childhood, through his work as a movie critic and into his early work in the industry as a script writer for Sergio Leoni. Each of his major feature films are touched upon, as well as a number of his more obscure projects and collaborations. An array of recognisable celebrities lend themselves to this biography, including filmmakers John Carpenter and George Romero, actor Michael Brandon, his ex-wife and former muse Daria Nicolodi, actress Jessica Harper and horror fan Alice Cooper. Members of his family also offer their thoughts on his visual style, enduring popularity and work ethic, most notably his brother Claudio and daughters Asia and Fiore. This doco is presented in an aspect of 1.78:1 but is unfortunately not 16x9 enhanced.

Behind The Scenes Featurettes (12:22)

    This is in fact two short featurettes joined together, each covering different aspects of the special effects.

Music Video - Phenomena Theme by Claudio Simonetti (4:00)

    The video quality here is pretty poor, but the direction by Argento is unmistakable. The entire video has a washed out sepia tone, with lots of analogue video grain. A lot of this footage isn't present in the film and was likely to have been shot specifically for this promotional piece.

Music Video - Valley by Bill Wyman (4:00)

     The first assistant director Michele Soavi directed this promo video, using excerpts from the feature and moody shots of Wyman holding his bass guitar. Although the musical piece works well in the film, as a four minute tune it's pretty monotonous stuff.

Theatrical Trailer (2:35)

    This is a typical trailer of the period that gives away a little of the plot of the film, but focuses more on the shocking imagery contained therein.

Argento Trailers (5)

    The Phenomena theatrical trailer is also playable on this page. Trailers for other must-see Argento films The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, The Cat 'O Nine Tails, Deep Red (Profondo Rosso) and Tenebrae are also included. Only the Deep Red trailer is 16x9 enhanced.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This film was released in Region 1 by Anchor Bay with English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and a French mono soundtrack. Also included on the disc is an Argento interview with journalist Joe Franklin. Many of the other extras are the same as this Region 4 disc, and the video transfer is similarly non-anamorphic.

    The Region 2 UK release is also non-anamorphic, but has only mono audio.

    The European Region 2 release by Medusa has an anamorphic video transfer, with no English audio. English subtitles are included, and the feature has a slightly longer runtime of 111 minutes (PAL). Judging by other reviews, the additional footage is pretty superficial and of no real concern.

    The German 2-disc release by Dragon is reportedly the same longer cut as the Medusa, with basically the same features as our R4.

    Region 1 wins for now, however it is clear that a definitive release of this film on DVD is yet to surface.

Summary

    Phenomena is an excellent horror/ thriller and a must for fans of the Italian filmmaker. The performances by Jennifer Connelly and Donald Pleasence are first class and the direction is often imitated, but never replicated.

    The video transfer is decent, but lacks 16x9 enhancement.

    The audio transfer is faithful to the original stereo effort, but deserves at least a six channel remix.

    There are a good selection of extras on offer.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Friday, June 04, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-525, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX76PW10A 76cm Widescreen 100Hz. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
R2 IS enhanced... - REPLY POSTED