Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 2nd, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, May 21st, 1974
Director: Giuseppe Bennati
Writers: Giuseppe Bennati, Paolo Levi, Biagio Proietti
Cast: Rosanna Schiaffino, Chris Avram, Eva Czemerys, Lucretia Love, Paola Senatore, Gaetano Russo, Andrea Scotti, Eduardo Filipone, Luigi Antonio Guerra, Howard Ross, Janet Agren
BluRay released: June 25th, 2014
Approximate running time: 104 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Italian, DTS-HD Mono English
Subtitles: English, German
BluRay Release: Camera Obscura
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: 27.99 EUR
Synopsis: In the middle of the night a wealthy aristocrat on a whim decides to continue his birthday celebration by inviting eight of his closest friends and family members to an abandon theater that his family has owned for many centuries.
The Killer Reserved Nine Seats was co-written and directed by Giuseppe Bennati who’s at the time of making this film had not directed a theatrical film in twelve years! Key collaborators on The Killer Reserved Nine Seats include cinematographer Giuseppe Aquari (An Angel for Satan), screenwriter Biagio Proietti (The Black Cat) and composer Carlo Savina (A Long Ride from Hell, Lisa and the Devil). Though not credit this film is yet another films that was clearly inspired by Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians (aka The There was none).
This film has all the ingredients that one would expect and want out of a Giallo. Like stylish murder set pieces and a few real nasty kills, most notably a scene were the killer repeatedly knifes a lesbian character in her genitals. And the nastiness does not end there as that same character later reappears with her lesbian lover as she is in a crucifixion pose.
From a narrative prospective this film keeps things simple and to the point as each death are spread out for the maximum effect. Also this film does a very good filling in who everyone is and what their motivations are? And this establishing of character back-story helps reinforce the notion that the killer can be anyone, thus making all the red herrings all the more tangible.
At the center of this murder and mayhem is a wealthy man who is the killers’ main target. And after a failed attempt on this man’s life the killer shifts gears to throw suspicion and cause more confusion amongst the guests. This objective is easy to execute since everyone at this party would benefit in some way if its host passed away.
Besides the traditional staples of the Giallo genre this film also dabbles heavily into the world of supernatural. A few of more notable moments in this regard include everyone’s inability to escape once they enter the theater and a mysterious character who comes and goes throughout only to be seen by a selected few.
Though the cast features a few recognizable faces like Janet Agren (Eaten Alive!) and Howard Ross (The New York Ripper), their characters quickly become an afterthought in the gander scheme of things. With this film strongest performance coming from Rosanna Schiaffino (La mandragola) in the role Vivian, the former lover of the wealthy man throwing the party. Another performance of note is Paola Senatore (Salon Kitty) in the role of the wealthy man’s daughter. This unhealthy father / daughter relationship ultimately proves to be the key behind the events which are unfolding. Also this film most memorable moment revolves around her character as she dances nude in front of a mirror before shifting gears and trying to seduce her father. Overall The Killer Reserved Nine Seats is a highly entertaining supernatural thriller that delivers the goods and then some.
The Killer Reserved Nine Seats comes on a 50 GB dual layer (44.9 GB) BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Black and contrast levels look consistently strong throughout, details look crisp, colors look nicely saturated and flesh tones look accurate. There are no issues with DNR or compression and grain looks natural throughout.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in Italian and a DTS-HD mono in English. Both audio mixes are in very good shape. The score sounds robust, the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented, dialog always comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. Also included with this release are two subtitle options, English and German. It should be noted that some scenes were not dubbed into English and during playback of the English audio these moments are in Italian with optional English and German subtitles.
Extras for this release include a photo gallery, English and Italian language trailers for the film (3 minutes 13 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), two interviews, the first one with actor Howard Ross (8 minutes 22 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen, in Italian with English and German subtitles) and the second interview with screenwriter Biagio Proietti (28 minutes 37 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen, in Italian with English and German subtitles) and an audio commentary with film historians Marcus Stiglegger and Kai Naumann, in German with English subtitles.
Topics discussed with Howard Ross include the films main location the Fabriano Theater, he also speaks fondly of all of the cast except Chris Avram who spent the majority of the film complaining and what is was like to work with director Giuseppe Bennati who was always on the edge as he tried to get the film completed on scheduled. Topics discussed with Biagio Proietti include how he began his career as a screenwriter, how he became involved with this film, the origins of the film, how the film was successful during its theatrical run, why they made a Giallo with paranormal elements, working with Giuseppe Bennati, how the internet and DVD has brought a reevaluation of the films that he worked on.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary with Marcus Stiglegger and Kai Naumann include the films score, the films main location and how theaters a central location have play a part in many Italian films like Opera and Stage Fright, they also make comparisons to Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond and they also discuss several key scenes in depth. Content wise this is a lively audio commentary that is equally insightful and entertaining to listen too.
Also included with this release is a booklet that includes an informative essay about the film. This essay is presented in dual text, English and German. This release also comes with multi-lingual menus, English and German. Overall Camera Obscura’s first foray on Blu-Ray is an exceptional release that takes full advantage of the format, highly recommended.
Note: Camera Obscura are also releasing this film on DVD.