Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 6th, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1997
Director: Sergio Stivaletti
Writers: Lucio Fulci, Daniele Stroppa, Dario Argento
Cast: Robert Hossein, Romina Mondello, Riccardo Serventi Longhi, Gabriella Giorgelli, Umberto Balli, Valery Valmond, Gianni Franco, Antonello Murru, Daniel Auber
BluRay released: January 31st, 2017
Approximate running time: 98 minutes
Aspect Ratios: 1.78:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English, Dolby Digital Stereo English, Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Italian, Dolby Digital Stereo Italian
BluRay Release: One 7 Movies
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.95
Synopsis: The sole survivor and only witness of a grisly murder finds herself in the crosshairs of the same psychopath. When she gets too close to the truth about what happened that fateful night twelve years before.
Wax Mask was the directorial debut of Sergio Stivaletti make-up / special effects artist who is most known for his work with producer / director Dario Argento. Notable films that he created special effects for include, Phenomena, Demons, Opera, Cemetery Man and The Stendhal Syndrome. Key collaborators on Wax Mask include, screenwriter Daniele Stroppa (Convent of Sinners, Voices from Beyond), cinematographer Sergio Salvati (Zombie, The Beyond) and producer Dario Argento. Though note credited in the films credits, the screenplay was adapted from Gaston Leroux’s (The Phantom of the Opera) short story titled The Waxwork Museum.
Since the late 1980’s Italian Horror cinema has been on a steady decline. With the majority of Italian filmmakers who flourished being forced to go to television if they wanted to continue to work. And to further hamper these once prominent filmmakers, they would be forced to create under anemic budgets that further hampered the end product. Fortunately, all was not lost when it came to Italian Horror cinema with films like Lucio Fulci’s Cat in the Brain and Michele Soavi’s Cemetery Man being two shining examples of Italian Horror cinema clicking on all cylinders. This brings us to Wax Mask a film that was originally intended to be directed by Lucio Fulci. Unfortunately, his ailing health and untimely death prevented him directing this film.
From a production standpoint Wax Mask has all of the ingredients one would want and expect from an Italian Horror film. Most notably a Grand Guignol infused carnage and operatic visuals. The narrative is well constructed and pacing is never an issue. When it comes to the film’s murder set pieces this film delivers in spades. With the film’s special effects that were created in camera instead of using CGI. And though some of these effects do call attention to themselves. With that being said, the special effects are still very effective.
Performance wise the entire cast are more than adequate in their respective roles. With this film’s standout performance coming from Robert Hossein (Rififi, Cemetery without Crosses) in the role of Boris Volkoff, the owner of the wax museum that has life like wax statues. Another performance of note include, Gianni Franco (Rats: Night of Terror, Phantom of Death) in the role Inspector Palazzi and Romina Mondello (Palermo-Milan One Way, To the Wonder), in the role of Sonia Lafont, the young woman who as a child witnessed a murder.
Wax Mask comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Colors look vibrant, image generally looks crisp and there are no issues with compression. It should be noted though the source used is in very good shape that there is DNR in varying degree is present throughout this transfer.
This release comes with four audio options, a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix in English, a Dolby Digital stereo mix in English, a Dolby TrueHD 5.1mix in Italian and a Dolby Digital stereo mix in Italian. Unfortunately for those who are no fluent in Italian there are no English subtitles. All of the audio mixes, clear, balanced and robust when they need. With the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mixes offering a slightly more robust audio experience then their stereo counterparts.
Extras for this release include, a featurette about the special effects (13 minutes 5 seconds) and a Behind the Scenes featurette (22 minutes 45 seconds). These two extras are essential a collection of preproduction and onset footage and though there is some dialog in these extras. The dialog is in Italian and no English subtitles are included.
Overall One 7 Films makes their BluRay debut with an audio / video presentation that is stronger than the majority of their previous releases.