Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 17th, 2015
BluRay released: September 14th, 2015
Approximate running times: 94 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono English, LPCM Mono Italian
BluRay Release: 88 Films
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £14.99
Synopsis: Christian (Robert Hoffman) a industrial heir is walking with a girlfriend along the beach when the come across what appears to be a dead body. They soon discover that Barbra (Suzy Kendall) is all right. Fascinated by this mysterious woman Christian starts a complicated affair that leads to murder? They go back to Christians hotel room and while he is shaving he attacked by a man who has been spying on them. During their scuffle the man is shot forcing Christian and Barbara to flee from the scene. Later when they return to his hotel the dead man’s corpse has vanished. Is Christian losing his mind or is someone trying to push him over the edge?
Spasmo was original to be directed by Lucio Fulci. Umberto Lenzi has made his share of sleazy and notorious films through out his career. One has to wonder what he was thinking when he made 1974’s Spasmo. The film feature a few brief moments of nudity and it is virtually bloodless outside of a few gun shots. Giallo’s are best know for taking violence to another level while parading around some of Europe’s most attractive starlets in next to nothing. Lenzi with Spasmo decided to explore a more psychological angle instead of the more typical visceral route like most of his contemporaries.
Unlike like your typical giallo that bombards you with baroque set pieces. Spasmo relies more on its actors performances and its intricate plot to get its message across. Spasmo starts off slow and takes some patience from the viewer as the first half of the film is filled with strange dialog and a series of scenes that may leave some shaking their head in disbelief. The set in the first half of the movie does have a purpose even if its takes it time to get to the pay off. Lenzi expertly uses every inch of the Techniscope and Ennio Morricone provides another excellent score that leans towards classical music in style.
Suzy Kendall in one of her final roles and Robert Hoffmann make a great team as both actors’ performances are pretty good. Ivan Rassimov plays Christian’s brother Fritz in the film and it is too bad his role is reduced to nothing more then a cameo. Umberto Lenzi is often overlooked when taking about classic giallo’s because his films never obtained the artistic heights of a Mario Bava’s or Dario Argento’s giallo’s, still Lenzi always consistently to make entertaining genre films. What or who is Spasmo this question is never answered and I guess like some mysteries it is best left unknown.
Spasmo comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Details look crisp, colors have never look more vibrant, flesh tones look accurate, black levels and shadow detail are consistently strong throughout. Also there are no issues with compression and when it comes to grain it is prominent throughout this transfer. When comparing this transfer with 88 Films other Italian releases, this transfer is on par with The Bloodstained Shadow.
This release comes with two audio options, a LPCM mono mix in English and a LPCM mono mix in Italian. Both audio mixes are in great shape as there are no issues with background noise or distortion. Dialog always comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented. With Ennio Morricone’s score benefiting most from this audio mix. Also included with this release are with newly created English Subtitles.
Extras for this release include, opening (2 minutes and 11 seconds), an English language trailer for the film (3 minutes 16 seconds), a Collectible 300gsm Original Poster Post Card, a reversible cover art option and Umberto Lenzi Q&A from Manchester Festival of Fantastic Film, 2013 (23 minutes 46 seconds, in English / Italian with English subtitles).
Topics discussed in the Q&A include, how Lenzi go into filmmaking, the three movies that he directed that are most important to him include, Paranoia, So Sweet, So Perverse and Knife of Ice, how he hated Cannibal Ferox for many years because that was the only film interviewers wanted to ask him about, he reveals which filmmakers that influenced him and this thoughts about various actors that he worked with.
Overall 88 Films gives Spasmo its best audio / video presentation to date.