Fangs of the Living Dead (1969) (NTSC)
|Year Of Production||1969|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Amando de Ossorio|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.66:1|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Two weeks before she is due to marry her fiancée Dr Piero Luciani (Gianni Medici, credited as John Hamilton), beautiful model Sylvia Morel (Anita Ekberg) learns that her mother has died and left her a castle. She travels to the castle and meets the Count, her uncle (Julian Ugarte), who looks as youthful as Sylvia. That night, Sylvia is visited by the mysterious Blinka (Adriana Ambesi), whose relationship to the family is never explained. Blinka tells Sylvia a strange tale about her mother and is about to bite Sylvia’s neck when the Count arrives, drags Blinka away and whips her. The Count then proceeds to tell Sylvia about her grandmother Malenka, who experimented in alchemy and was thus burnt at the stake as a witch by the locals. The result was a curse upon the family, such that Sylvia can never marry.
Sylvia sends Piero a letter breaking off their engagement, but he cannot accept this and arrives at the village with his friend Max (Cesar Benet, credited as Guy Roberts), where they stay at the inn. Owner Freya (Rosanna Yanni) is concerned for her sister Bertha (Diana Lorys) who is ill. Piero examines her and finds little wrong, but that night Bertha is visited by the Count, who is indeed a vampire, and dies. Local Doctor Horbinger (Carlos Casaravilla) shows Piero the two puncture wounds in Bertha’s neck, but Piero is all modern and scientific and refuses to believe in the existence of vampires. The next night, Piero discovers that the dead do in fact walk, and as the Count prepares to turn Sylvia into a vampire, it is up to Piero to save the woman he loves from becoming one of the living dead.
Fangs of the Living Dead (also known as Malenka) is a Spanish film from director Amando de Ossorio who went on to become one of the main directors of the surge of Spanish language horror films of the 1970s, when his output included La noche del terror (1972) (released as Tombs of the Blind Dead) and El ataque de los muertos sin ojos (1972) (Return of the Evil Dead). In Fangs of the Living Dead he acquired the services of Anita Ekberg, a winner of Miss Sweden in 1950 whose film career highlight was La Dolce Vita (1960) for Fellini but whose subsequent career was better known for her private life than for her acting prowess.
Fangs of the Living Dead has a nonsensical plot and is played more for campy humour than serious intent. The characters cannot see what is before their eyes and take choices that make no sense at all, and there is a half-hearted attempt at the end to explain away the vampire story. Julian Ugarte as the Count does a reasonable job and Carlos Casaravilla as the local doctor is also good, but the rest of the cast is very wooden, including Ekberg, and Cesar Benet as the “comic relief” buddy is positively annoying. However, there is lots of eye candy on show with Adriana Ambesi, Rosanna Yanni and Diana Lorys in low cut dresses, the castle set is interesting and some of the sequences, such as Sylvia running through the crypt with blue light highlighting the walls, build up nice tension. However, the twist at the end of the film shows that nothing is to be taken seriously.
Fangs of the Living Dead is included in the six film, three DVD collection Blood Suckers, a box set from Gryphon of vampire tales from around the world, Germany, Spain, Italy and England, from 1922 to 1974. The full list is Nosferatu (1922) and Vampyr (1932) on disc 1, Atom Age Vampire (1960) and Fangs of the Living Dead (1969) on disc 2 and Vampire Night Orgy (1974) and Count Dracula and His Vampire Bride (1973) on disc 3. The set also includes an informative eight page booklet.
Fangs of the Living Dead is presented in a ratio of approximately 1.66:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. The print is NTSC format. The original theatrical ratio was 1.85:1, and this is only the start of the problems.
First, the film shows clear evidence of cropping at the sides and top. People talking are often out of the frame (an early example is 4:51) and frequently heads disappear out the top of the frame. This is also a soft looking print, although detail is acceptable. Colours are dull and washed out, skin tones vary and brightness and contrast does fluctuate. Blacks are mostly OK, shadow detail is acceptable, if hardly crisp.
While there are some dirt marks and scratches, most are quite small, although some, such as at 17:26 are more noticeable. A bigger problem is interlacing errors that are frequent and obvious whenever there is movement on screen. Some of the worst examples are during the burning of Malenka (28:07 – 29:14) where the combination of movement and fire is just too much for the print, or during the female fight at the end: stop the film at 69:03, for example, for a screen full of lines. There are also a number of frame jumps, suggesting missing frames in this print.
There are no subtitles.
Audio is an English Linear PCM track at 1536 Kbps. The dialogue is mostly fine, the effects dull and tinny. There was no surround or sub-woofer use. There is some hiss and hum evident, plus the occasional crack.
The score by Carlo Savina could not be said to be subtle; for example heavy organ music occurs with “scary” parts. As such it could be said to compliment the film.
The film was not shot in English. This release is an English dub with horrible lip synchronization issues. There really seems little attempt to match the voices to the character’s lips.
|Surround Channel Use|
A booklet provides some interesting information and a summary for all the films in this box set.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The only other version of the film I can find is a Region 1 US release that is 1.33:1, non 16x9 enhanced. It has some liner notes by Mirek Lipinski, but I cannot ascertain its running time. The original Italian version of the film ran 98 minutes, the Spanish version 90 minutes, and the US theatrical version 88 minutes, so however you want to look at it this DVD release is a severely truncated version of the film. However, I cannot find a record of any of these European cuts being available. This Gryphon release may be the truncated version, but it is closer to the original theatrical ratio and is 16x9 enhanced. There does not seem a lot of choice if you want to see this film, and it is included in the Blood Suckers package for a RRP of $19.95 for six films so is a bargain. I cannot find an equivalent of this three disc, six film package in any other region.
Fangs of the Living Dead is not to be taken seriously. It has a nonsensical plot, however, there is lots of eye candy on show including Anita Ekberg. The video has some of the worse interlacing I have seen for some time, the audio is functional and a booklet is the only extra.
Fangs of the Living Dead is included in the six film, three DVD collection Blood Suckers, a set from Gryphon of vampire tales from around the world from 1922 to 1974.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|