Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 26th, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1972
Director: Mario Bava
Writer: Vincent Fotre
Cast: Joseph Cotten, Elke Sommer, Massimo Girotti, Rada Rassimov, Antonio Cantafora, Umberto Raho, Luciano Pigozzi, Dieter Tressler, Nicoletta Elmi
BluRay released: April 29th, 2013
Approximate running times: 98 minutes (Italian Version, European Export Version), 91 minutes (AIP Version)
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (All Versions)
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Italian (Italian Version), DTS-HD Mono English (European Export Version, AIP Version)
Subtitles: English (Italian Version), English SDH (European Export Version, AIP Version)
BluRay Release: Arrow Video
Region Coding: Region B / Region 2 PAL
Retail Price: £22.99
The film’s score for the Italian language version and European Export Version was composed by Stelvio Cipriani (What Have They Done to Your Daughters?, Rabid Dogs), while the score for the AIP version of the film was composed by Lex Baxter (The Fall of the House of Usher, Pit and the Pendulum).
As a filmmaker Mario Bava was a true chameleon, who worked and excelled in just about genre he worked in. And though he would on a rare occasion venture away his bread and butter, the Horror film genre. It is his film’s within the Horror film genre that he most remembered for and deservedly so.
Genre cycles can be very abrupt, with audiences ever growing fickleness. In the twelve years since Mario Bava directed Black Sunday, which is arguably the most profound example of the Italian Gothic Horror film genre. And his return to the genre with Baron Blood. The Gothic Horror genre had all but run its course, being eclipsed by the immerging Italian thrillers, that where directly inspired by Dario Argento’s The Bird With the Crystal Plumage.
Not one to follow trends, it should not come as a surprise that Mario Bava would not only return to where it all began, the Italian Gothic Horror film and turn it once again on its head. Most notably his use of color cinematography over the stark black and white cinematography that the Italian Gothic Horror genre is most known for. With that being said, there is never a shortage of atmospheric moments in Baron Blood. Without a doubt this film’s most iconic moment being a scene where Elke Sommer’s (A Shot in the Dark) character Eva’s is stalked down a series of fogged filled narrow alleyways.
From a production stand point there are not that many areas in which this film does not hold really well. The visuals are first rate, pacing is never an issue as things move briskly from one revelation to the next and once again Mario Bava excels, when it comes to the murder set pieces.
Outside of the deliriously over the top performance from Joseph Cotton (Citizen Kane, The Third Man) in not one, but two roles. None of this film’s other performance leave that strong of an impression and they tend to come off as to mechanical in their delivery.
As far as monster movies goes, Baron Blood is actually pretty basic. An event sets in motion the resurrection of a diabolical entity, who then proceeds to gruesomely dispose of those, who get in its way. The simplicity of the killer’s modus operandi aside, Baron Blood can best be summed up as a lean mean killing machine that gives its target audience what it wants and then some.
Baron Blood comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Included with this release are three versions of the film. All three transfers included with this release look very good. Print damage is kept to a minimum, there are no issues with compression and DNR is kept in check. Colors and flesh tones look accurate and details look appropriately crisp. It should be noted that contrast and shadow detail tend to fluctuate throughout. With that being said, this is never to intrusive and the end result is easily the best this film has looked to date on home video.
Each version of the film contained on the BluRay disc comes with one audio option each a DTS-HD mix in Mono. The three audio mixes range from good to great, with the majority of the time falling in the latter category. Though there is some very mild instances of background noise. Dialog always comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. Also the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented. The Italian language version comes with English subtitles and the other two versions come with English SDH subtitles.
Extras on the BluRay disc include a interview with director Ruggero DeoDato (11 minutes 46 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles), who discusses Mario Bava and his influence on Italian horror cinema, radio spots, English language trailer and Italian release trailer, a image gallery, a introduction to the film with author and critic Alan Jones and an audio commentary with Mario Bava biographer Tim Lucas. This is yet another superb audio commentary track from Tim Lucas that is overflowing with interesting information about this film and the who directed it, Mario Bava. It should be noted that the audio commentary can only be accessed while watching the European export version of the film.
Also included with this combo release are two DVD’s, the first DVD contains the European export version of the film and the following extras, a interview with director Ruggero DeoDato, English language trailer and Italian release trailer, a introduction to the film with author and critic Alan Jones and an audio commentary with Mario Bava biographer Tim Lucas. The second DVD contains the AIP version of the film and the following extras, radio spots and a image gallery.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art and a twenty four page booklet that contains numerous images from the film, a essay about the film titled ‘Gothic Revival: a Reappraisal of Baron Blood’ written by James Oliver and a text piece about the transfers and restoration work that went into this release. Overall Baron Blood gets a first rate release from Arrow Video, highly recommended.