Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 26th, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1969
Director: Pasquale Festa Campanile
Writers: Tullio Pinelli, Brunello Rondi
Adapted From: Renato Ghiotti’s novel ‘Scacco alla regina’
Cast: Rosanna Schiaffino, Haydée Politoff, Romolo Valli, Aldo Giuffrè, Daniela Surina, Gabriele Tinti, Elvira Tonelli, Ileana Rigano
BluRay released: September 9th, 2014
Approximate running times: 100 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Italian
Subtitles: English (non-removable)
BluRay Release: Mondo Macabro
Region Coding: Region A / Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.95
The Slave was directed by Pasquale Festa Campanile, whose other notable films as a director include The Libertine and Hitch Hike. He also worked extensively as a screenwriter and some of his notable screenwriter credits include The Assassin and The Leopard. Key collaborators on The Slave include cinematographer Roberto Gerardi (Marriage Italian Style, Ring of Death) and composer Piero Piccioni (The 10th Victim, Camille 2000). Another title that The Slave is also known under includes Check the Queen, which is also a rough translation of the Italian language title Scacco alla regina.
Content wise, though the main premise revolves around a young woman on an exploration of her sexual fantasies. When it comes to sexual content this film is actually rather tame. And outside of a few moments of naked flesh there really are no sustained moments of eroticism. Fortunately this is all by design since this is a film that is more rooted in the psychological aspects of its protagonists mind. She is trying to break free of the boredom of reality and ultimately find achieve that ecstasy that so far she has only been able to obtain in her fantasies.
This film was made at the tail end of the 1960’s and it has that vibrant décor that has become synonymous with other similar themed films from this era of European cinema. Also this film’s lush production design helps reinforce the decadent behavior that runs rampant throughout this film.
From a production stand point the film’s visuals look exquisite throughout, especially the spellbinding dream sequences which have a tremendous amount of atmosphere. And in a film that is a visual feast for the eyes there are a few standout moments like a scene where Silvia who has agreed to pretend that she is s statue at a thrown by Margaret, the woman she works for party. After her disguised is compromised and the guests chase after her, she flees and is rescued by Margaret’s chauffer and sometime lover Spartaco. From there he gives Silvia a bath and puts her to bed, but she has other ideas and starts to seduce him, only to be interrupted by Margaret. This proves to be the pivotal moment that changes Silvia and Margaret’s relationship. Of course another moment of importance is this film’s finale in which Silvia must finally choose is she wants to be free or continue to be a slave to her desires.
The most surprising area of this production was just how great the entire cast where in the respective roles. This film’s most memorable performance coming from Rosanna Schiaffino (The Killer Reserved Nine Seats) in the role of Margaret Mevin, a domineering movie star that takes Silvia under her wing. Another standout performance is Haydée Politoff (Dracula’s Great Love) in the role of Silvia. These two actress have a strong chemistry and the scenes that they are in together is easily the most compelling. Also the cast have several recognizable faces like Romolo Valli (Duck You Sucker) and Gabriele Tinti (Emanuelle in America).
The Slave comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Colors look vibrant, flesh tones look healthy, black and contrast levels look great throughout. There are no issues with compression, grain structure look natural and details, especially close ups exhibit a tremendous amount of clarity.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in Italian. Dialog always comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced and robust when its needs too, most notably this film’s score. Range wise things tend to sound limited. Fortunately this is a character driven film and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack sound very good throughout. Also included with this release are non removable English subtitles.
Extras for this release include the Mondo Macabro preview trailer, an essay about the film and text based profiles for actresses Rosanna Schiaffino, Haydée Politoff, director Pasquale Festa Campanile and composer Piero Piccioni, an interview with film critic / author Roberto Curti (27 minutes 35 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) who gives a well-rounded overview of Pasquale Festa Campanile’s filmography and an interview with Justin Harries from the UK’s Film Bar 70 (19 minutes 9 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) who discusses Italian / European genre cinema from the 1960’s and 1970’s.
Other extras include trailers for and clips from the following films Interrabang, The Human Factor, Queens of Evil, La collectionneuse, Bingo Bongo, Hitch Hike, Hector the Mighty, Soldier of Fortune, When Women Had Tails, The Libertine, Count Dracula’s Great Love, Con Quale Amore Con Quanto Amore, The Girl From Trieste and Score. And these trailers and clips can only be accessed via the profiles located in the extras section.
Also included with this combo release is a DVD counterpart to the Blu-Ra disc. Overall Mondo Macabo makes its Blu-Ray debut with an exceptional release for The Slave and if this is any indication for what is yet to come from Mondo Macabro, then the future looks very good for cult cinema fans, highly recommended.