Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 7th, 2007
Theatrical Release Dates: USA, 2006
Director: Dario Argento
Cast: Meat Loaf, John Saxon
DVD released: February 13th, 2007
Approximate running time: 59 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 & Surround
DVD Release: Anchor Bay
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $14.98
Jake Feldman (meatloaf) is a furrier who is surrounded by imperfection at work and is infatuated with a stripper named Shana who is repulsed by him. Jeb Jameson (John Saxon) is sadistic raccoon trapper who comes across the most beautiful pelts anyone has ever seen and he offers them to Jake at a price he cannot refuse. Jake and his business partner decide to make the most spectacular mink coat ever made out of these flawless pelts and now all they need is the right model to wear it at the fashion show they are going to unveil it to the world at. Happiness is short lived as since bad things start to happen to everyone who comes in contact with the pelts.
All directors want to be successful and they try to make films on their own terms. Once they have achieved the recognition for their work they are often asked by those who fund their projects and their hardcore fans to repeat their former successes. In theory should be an easy route that is most directors where only in it for the money. The truth is most directors want to grow as an artist and returning to former glories is only a sign that they have lost creative steam. Enter Dario Argento who many of his hardcore fans will insist that he hasn’t made good film since his 1987 film Opera. Then there is another minor faction of Argento fans who would disagree with that statement and point out that he has made several great films since Opera and his 1996 film The Stendhal Syndrome is arguably one of his best films of his career.
Last year Argento with his Masters of Horror episode “Jenifer” had a return of sorts to the U.S. who had originally rejected Two Evil Eyes and Trauma. Jenifer would prove to be a great success and Argento who would return for another season of Masters of Horror with his latest effort titled “Pelts”. After the success of these two projects Dario Argento is now finally getting the recognition that has always eluded him in the United States, still all is not well since most of his hardcore fans dismiss these latest forays as mediocre and uninspired.
The screenplay which was written by first time writer Matt Venne is well written plot that has the right amount of story and gore. The special effects are without a doubt the best to ever grace any Argento film. The level of violence and gore is off the chart as the blood runs deep and often. One of the most disturbing moments is when John Saxon’s character kills a raccoon by crushing its windpipe with his foot and then tells his son if that doesn’t kill them bash their brains in with the baseball bat. Unlike most of Argento’s films there are plenty of bare breasted women in this one with the films lead female character Shana spending the majority of screen time topless.
Acting wise Meatloaf does what he does best plays another loud and over the top character without adding any depth or background to the man. It was cool seeing John Saxon reunited with Dario Argento and despite his limited screen time he manages to create a memorable performance. The best performance in the film is Ellen Ewusie as Shana the stripper and even though she has very little to say her body movements totally sell her performance. This is by far and away the sexiest performance in any Argento film.
So how did Dario Argento do overall in Pelts? His direction is very stylish and the use of color is the strongest it has been in many years for Argento. The lighting in the scene where Jeb and his son go to kill the raccoons is haunting beautiful as it perfectly captures the mood of the scene. Virtually all the scenes are well done with the one where Sue Chin Yao eyes and mouth are sewn shut being my favorite Argento like moment. Frequent Dario Argento collaborator Claudio Simonetti provides yet another solid score that compliments the action and mayhem. So here we are once again Dario Argento treads unfamiliar waters further pushing away his hardcore fan base who want another Deep Red or Suspiria. Pelts may not be classic Argento, still it is miles ahead of anything else any other horror filmmaker is currently making.
Pelts, was shot for television for the Masters of Horror series on Showtime. This DVD retains the films original aspect ratio and it is anamorphic enhanced. The image looks razor sharp and colorful with no noticeable flaws.
This release comes with tow audio options Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital surround. Both audio mixes are in English. The sound is robust and evenly balanced with dialog sounding clear and easy to follow. There are no problems with distortion or any other sound defects.
Extras for this release include trailers for other Anchor Bay titles, a still gallery, a storyboard gallery, a bio for Dario Argento and the screenplay in DVD-ROM format. Other extras include featurette’s the first one titled “Fleshing it out: The Making of Pelts” which is about thirteen minutes in length and the other one titled “All Sewn up” which is about seven minutes in length. “Fleshing it out: The Making of Pelts” is an interesting piece in which most of the cast and crew discuss working on this project and with Dario Argento and even Dario has a few minor things to say about Pelts. “All Sewn up” is basically a behind the scenes look at how the scene where actress Elise Lew eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Rounding out the extras is an audio commentary with the films screenwriter Matt Venne who discuses in depth his screenplay and the Films of Dario Argento.
Pelts, is another entertaining and unique film that bears all the style and clichés that we as Argento fans have come expect. Overall this release while not as extra laden as other Masters of Horror releases it is still a more then adequate DVD from Anchor Bay.
For more information about Pelts and other titles released by Anchor Bay visit their website.