Written by: Michael Den Boer on October 24th, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: France / Italy, 1968
Directors: Roger Vadim (segment “Metzengerstein”), Louis Malle (segment “William Wilson”), Federico Fellini (segment “Toby Dammit”)
Writers: Roger Vadim, Pascal Cousin (segment “Metzengerstein”), Louis Malle, Clement Biddle Wood, Daniel Boulanger (segment “William Wilson”), Federico Fellin, Bernardino Zapponi (segment “Toby Dammit”)
Cast: Brigitte Bardot, Alain Delon, Jane Fonda, Terence Stamp, James Robertson Justice, Salvo Randone, Françoise Prévost, Peter Fonda
BluRay released: November 15th, 2010
Approximate running time: 121 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English (All Three Segments), DTS-HD Mono French (All Three Segments), DTS-HD Mono Italian (Toby Dammit)
BluRay Release: Arrow Video
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: £22.99
Metzengerstein: A decadent heiress becomes infatuated with her cousin.
This segment was directed by Roger Vadim, who is most known for his film’s with actress Brigitte Bardot. This segments stars Jane Fonda (who at that time was married Roger Vadim) and her brother Peter Fonda (Easy Rider). This would mark the first time that they had appeared on screen together. The cinematographer on this segment was Claude Renoir, who’s other notable credits include Blood and Roses and Barbarella: Queen of the Galaxy.
William Wilson: A sadist solider is stalked by a doppelganger.
This segment was directed by Louis Malle (Viva Maria!, Pretty Baby). This segment mark the only time that Brigitte Bardot and Alain Delon (they were two of the most iconic French actors of the 1960’s) would appear on screen together. The cinematographer on this segment was Tonino Delli Colli, who’s other notable film’s include The Good, the Ugly, the Bad, Once Upon a Time in the West and Once Upon a Time in America.
Toby Dammit: An arrogant British actor makes a deal with the devil that will cost him his head.
This segment was directed by Federico Fellini, who’s other notable film’s include La Dolce Vita, 8 1/2 and Juliet of the Spirits. The segment stars Terence Stamp (The Collector), who quickly rose to prominence and became one of the most in demand actors of the 1960’s. Reportedly Peter O’Toole (Lawrence of Arabia) was originally cast as Toby Dammit. The cinematographer on this segment was Giuseppe Rotunno, who’s other notable credits include The Leopard, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, The Beast and The Stendhal Syndrome. The score for this segment was composed by frequent Federico Fellini collaborator. He composed all of Federico Fellini’s films from The White Sheik through Orchestra Rehearsal.
Even though all three segments are at best loose adaptations of the stories penned by Edgar Allen Poe. Tone and content wise they retain the macabre atmosphere that is synonymous with the writings of Edgar Allen Poe. The weakest segment is Metzengerstein, while the strongest segment is Toby Dammit. Performance wise Terrance Stamp in the role of Toby Dammit towers over all the other actors who appear in these three segments. He gives a enigmatic performance that is equally mesmerizing and utterly convincing. Another area where these segments are there stylish and at time nightmarish visuals. The girl with bouncing ball being the most iconic image. Ultimately Spirits of the Dead is an uneven production that gets consumed by its excesses, just like the protagonists from each segment.
Spirits of the Dead comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. This brand new Hi Def transfer was sourced and the result is a strong that boasts vivid color reproduction, solid black levels and details look crisp throughout. Grain looks healthy, there are no problems with compression and DNR is kept in check. Simply put this easily the best this film has ever looked on home video.
This release comes with a multitude of audio options all which have been presented in their original mono. The audio sound clean, clear and consistent throughout. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles that are easy to follow and error free.
Extras for this release include the film’s original theatrical trailer (3 minutes 40 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, 1080P), alternative English audio for Metzengerstein and William Wilson, multi-lingual English and Italian audio for Toby Dammit as well the French dubbed version, a brand new English subtitle translation on all versions, The French Language version with English subtitles (2 hours 1 minute 7 seconds -anamorphic widescreen, 1080P), Vincent Price’s voice over narration used for the US theatrical version, a 60 page booklet featuring Edgar Allan Poe’s original short stories Metzengerstein, William Wilson and Never Bet the Devil Your Head (Toby Dammit), two text essay’s ‘Spirits of the Dead Revisited’ written by critic and author Tim Lucas and ‘Literature and Cinema’ written by scholar and author Peter Bondanella on Toby Dammit and re-prints of original lobby cards and posters. Also the menu allows you to watch all three segments at once or individually. Overall Arrow Video Gives Spirits of the Dead its best home video release to date.