Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 16th, 2006
Theatrical Release Dates: Mexico, 1958
Director: Fernando Mendez
Writer: Ramon Obon
Cast: Beatriz Aguirre, Lupe Carriles, Antonio Raxel, Rafael Bertrand, Guillermo Alvarez Bianchi, Gaston Santos
DVD released: August 29th, 2006
Approximate running time: 82 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33.1 Fullframe
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
DVD Release: Casa Negra/Panik House
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Synopsis: Dr. Aldama and Dr. Mazali make a death pact in which the first one who dies must due whatever he can due to come back and tell the other about the afterlife. Dr. Aldama returns via a séance to tell Dr. Mazali what it is like on the other side. Dr. Mazali is not happy just knowing about death and life after death wants to experience it himself. In order to fulfill his wish Dr. Mazali will have to make a great sacrifice.
The Black Pit of Dr. M was directed by Fernando Méndez who also directed the 1957 film The Vampire. Fernando Méndez carefully frames every composition and lights every corridor and room with the utmost care. His direction is nearly flawless through out as he creates one of the greatest gothic horror films ever committed to celluloid. The story has just the right amount of twists to keep things moving and interesting until the shocking finale.
The main plot does slightly reassemble’s something that one would imagine would come from the mind of Edgar Allen Poe. The acting is pretty good across the board with Rafael Bertrand stealing every scene as Dr. Mazali. The sets are impressive and special effects are well done and never look cheap. One stand out scene involves Dr. Mazali who calms a lunatic patience at the asylum with a music box. There is something soothing about the music playing and the scene is wonderfully laid out in such a way that you can feel an opposing tension that is building despite the music trying to the opposite. Overall The Black Pit of Dr. M is rich in style and substance and beautifully photographed.
Casa Negra presents The Black Pit of Dr. M in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio that retains the films original aspect ratio. This transfer was sourced from restored vault elements and the end results are nothing short of amazing. Black levels are strong and shadow detail is exceptional. There are no problems with compression, artifacts or edge enhancement and print damage is virtually non-existent.
This release comes with one audio option the films original Spanish language which is presented in a Dolby Digital mono. The audio like the video is in great shape as the action is easy to follow and dialog is clear. There are no problems with hiss or distortion. Removable English subtitles that are easy to follow and understand have been included.
Extras for this release include a Casa Negra Loteria game card, the films original theatrical trailer, poster & stills galleries, cast bios. Other extras include an extensive biography on director Fernando Mendez, a photo essay titled “Mexican Monsters Invade the U.S.”, the films original 1961 English continuity script and a music video titled “Black Pit of Dr. M” which includes interview with one of the band members of 21st century Art who explains how this project came about. Rounding out the extras is an audio commentary with IVTV founder Frank Coleman. This audio commentary is a fact filled adventure that makes for required listing for anyone who is seriously interested in classic Mexican horror cinema.
Like their previous releases Casa Negra latest The Black Pit of Dr. M comes with a bilingual menu where you can choose English or Spanish. The cover art is reversible with the option once again of choosing English or Spanish.
Casa Negra gives The Black Pit of Dr. M a fully loaded DVD release that comes with a first rate audio/video presentation and wealth of extras, recommended.