Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 20th, 2006
Theatrical Release Dates: Russia / Italy / UK, 1993
Director: Mariano Baino
Writers: Andy Bark, Mariano Baino
Cast: Valeri Bassel, Mariya Kapnist, Anna Rose Phipps, Louise Salter, Venera Simmons
DVD released: September 26th, 2006
Approximate running time: 92 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English
Subtitles: English, Italian
DVD Release: No Shame
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $42.95 (Limited Edtion of only 3,000 copies)
Synopsis: A young woman Elizabeth returns to a remote island where she was born twenty years later after the death of her father. Once at the island she goes to the monastery where her friend Theresa a nun is supposed to be waiting for her. Theresa has disappeared without giving any word of her return so the nuns have Sister Sara take care of all of Elizabeth’s needs. The longer Elizabeth stays on the island the more she uncovers about her past and her search for the truth only further puts her own life in danger.
Dark Waters when released thirteen years ago somehow didn’t find its audience which is a shame since it embodies all what it good with in the horror genre and not the water down horror films that have assaulted us since its release. The film is an atmospheric horror film that makes you think and even has some characters that are more than one dimensional. The story is well rounded still there are a few moments in the film where the narrative tends to drag or drift off course into another dimension.
Now to the important stuff, are there killings, yes and most of them are bloody even though a lot of the killing is done off screen. Also, no movie about nuns would be complete without some nudity or at least some torture. There are a few instances of self-inflicted torture that is done in a stylishly sleazy way. His use of color and knack for capturing Gothic set pieces is reminiscent of the style employed in most horror films that came out of Italy in the 1970’s and early 1980’s.
Director Mariano Baino is a strong visual storyteller who lets the images do most of the talking and only relies on dialog minimally. His sense of building suspense and setting the mood is what drives this film home visually. The various locations used in the film are all wonderful choices that greatly enhance the overall production value of the film. Ultimately Dark Waters is the best horror film that no one has heard of that is until now.
No Shame presents Dark Waters in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. No Shame have once again done a spectacular job restoring another lesser known film to a visual splendor that eclipses every previous edition of this film ever released on home video. The source used is nearly flawless as there are no signs of any print damage and grain is noticeable through out. There are no problems with compression, artifacts or edge enhancement.
This release comes with one audio option an English language track which is presented in a Dolby Digital Stereo. Dialog is crystal clear and music and effects sound robust and evenly balanced. There are no problems with hiss, distortion or any other sound defects. Removable subtitles in English and Italian have been included.
Extras for limited edition release are spread over two DVD’s.
Disc one includes the following extras an extensive photo and artwork gallery, a blooper reel which comes with audio commentary from director Mariano Baino, seven minutes of deleted footage from the film that is mostly shots here and there and not complete scenes and Mariano Baino’s introduction to Dark Waters. Other extras include a fifty minute documentary titled Deep into Dark Waters which includes interviews with Mariano Baino, Louise Salter, Steve Brooke Smith, Rick Littler and Nigel Dali. This is a well rounded feature in which the various participants discuss the difficulties making Dark Waters and working on a film in Ukraine. Rounding out the extras for disc one is an audio commentary with director Mariano Baino and this discussion is moderated by Michele De Angelis. Throughout the commentary Mariano Baino gives a detailed account of the various techniques used while filming and why certain locations were chosen.
Disc two includes the following extras a photo & artwork gallery, a music video titled Face and The Body and the screenplay for Never Ever After in PDF form. Also included with this release is a fourteen minute featurette for Never Ever After titled Making of Never Ever After that includes interviews with Mariano Baino, Steve Brooke Smith, Abby Leamon, Jackie Stirling and Jaqueline Wilkie. All the participants have plenty to say about the short and there is some behind the scenes footage that is incorporated into this featurette. The main extras on disc two consist of three short films Dream Car is a tale about a teenage boy who obsesses over getting the car of his dreams, Caruncula is a story about two women and their desires of the flesh and the final short is titled Never Ever After which is a story about a woman who is afraid to grow old and she gets more then she bargained for when she agrees to a controversial operation. All three short films come with audio commentary tracks with director Mariano Baino and moderator Michele De Angelis. Once again Mariano Baino is full of insightful details and since these shorts has very little dialog it is nice to hear the director explain the meaning behind each of them.
Last but not least No Shame have include with this release a replica of the demonic amulet seen in the film and a forty eight page collectible booklet that contains an introduction from Mariano Baino, pages of the script & storyboards, liner notes about the film, a Bio for Mariano Baino and a wealth of photos.
No Shame’s limited edition Dark Waters DVD is their most ambitious release to date and it is one of the most impressive special edition DVD’s ever released. Overall Mariano Baino’s Dark Waters makes its North American DVD debut in grand fashion and now this rarely seen gem can be seen by the masses, highly recommended.
Note: There is also a one disc release of Dark Waters that comes with everything that is included on the first DVD of this limited edition release.