Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 27th, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1972
Directors: Giampaolo Lomi, Edoardo Mulargia
Writers: Giampaolo Lomi, Edoardo Mulargia, Anthony Steffen
Cast: Anthony Steffen, Anita Strindberg, Gabriele Tinti, Umberto Raho, Stelio Candelli, Gordon Felio, Kathryn Witt, Richard Osborne, Alfio Nicolosi
BluRay released: April 1st, 2017
Approximate running time: 95 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Italian, DTS-HD Mono French
Subtitles: English, French
BluRay Release: Le Chat Qui Fume
Region Coding: Region B / Region 2 NTSC
Retail Price: €25.00 (France)
Synopsis: A Doctor working in Haiti discovers a serum that gives those how take an insatiable sex drive. Of course once word gets out about his miracle serum a bidding war ensues. Unfortunately there are those who will do anything to get their hands on this serum, including murder.
Tropic of Cancer was co-written and co-directed by Giampaolo Lomi and Edoardo Mulargia (Escape from Hell). Key collaborators on Tropic of Cancer include cinematographer Marcello Masciocchi (The Sweet Body of Deborah, Jungle Holocaust) and composer Piero Umiliani (5 Dolls for a August Moon, Baba Yaga). A few alternate titles that Tropic of Cancer is also known by include Death in Haiti and Inferno unter heisser Sonne.
During the early 1970’s the Italian thriller genre was undeniably at the height of its popularity. The best examples of the genre offered up a satisfying mix of sex, murder and operatic death sequences. And while far too many filmmakers tried to ape the style that made Dario Argento the predominant filmmaker working within this genre. Every now and then there would come along a film that would go slightly against this grain, by putting a slight spin of this genres tried and true conventions. One such film that falls into this latter category is Tropic of Cancer.
First off the film is set in the exotic of Haiti, while the majority of Italian thrillers were set in Italy. And it is this change of venue that serves story at hand greatly, since if it were to take place in the more familiar surroundings of Italy. The story would not be as engaging. In fact to put it bluntly, the plot is mess that often throws logic out the window.
This film stylish cinematography further bolster the aforementioned exotic locales. With this film’s standout moment being a hallucinatory sequence in which Anita Strindberg’s (The Case Of The Scorpions Tale, A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin) character glides down a corridor that is filled while naked men fondle her. Speaking of this film’s leading lady, though her performance is not the type that is going to win any awards. The way in which she is photographed cements her characters place as this film object of desire. Out of all the film’s that I have seen her, this film is without a doubt the most alluring she has ever looked.
Performance wise, there is no one performance that stands out above the rest. With all the performances being not much more than a means to an ends. The cast does however feature a few recognizable Euro-cult faces like Anthony Steffen (Arizona Colt Returns) and Gabriele Tinti (Emanuelle in America).
When it comes to Italian thrillers, one of the main draws are its death sequences. It is in this regard that this film does not come out smelling like roses. Since the majority of the kills lack the flair that one has come to expect from Italian thrillers. Ultimately Tropic of Cancer is a bewitching cocktail of sex, voodoo and murder, that is ripe for rediscovery.
Tropic of Cancer comes on a 50 GB dual layer (40.9 GB) BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. It should be noted that Camera Obscura is listed in this release’s acknowledgments of those who helped with this release and its appears that this transfer comes from the same source that they used for their release. Details look crisp, black levels remain strong, colors are nicely saturated and there are no issues with compression.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in Italian and a DTS-HD mono mix in French. There are no issues with background noise or distortion, dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. The score sounds robust and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented. Included with this release are removable English and French subtitles.
Extras for this release include, a German language trailer for the film (2 minutes 42 seconds), four featurette’s / interview’s – Mort à Haïti (Shot in Haiti) with co-screenwriter / director Giampaolo Lomi (31 minutes 51 seconds, in Italian with French subtitles), Voyage Hallucinatoire with co-screenwriter / director Edoardo Mulargia (18 minutes 29 seconds, in Italian with French subtitles), Giallo Caldo with film critic Françis Barbier (26 minutes 34 seconds, in French no subtitles) and 3 Gialli with film critic Fathi Beddiar (24 minutes 51 seconds, in French no subtitles) and a VHS sourced version of the film under its French language title Tropique du Cancer (87 minutes 22 seconds – Letterboxed Widescreen, in French no subtitles).
Other extras include trailers for La longue nuit de l’exorcisme “Don’t Torture a Duckling” (3 minutes 47 seconds, in Italian with French subtitles), Opera (1 minute 44 seconds, in English no subtitles) and A la recherche du Plaisir “Amuck!” (3 minutes 53 seconds, in English no subtitles).
The extras titled Mort à Haïti (Shot in Haiti) originally appeared on Camera Obscura DVD release. And topics discussed in this extra include, the origins of the project, shooting a film in Haiti, the cast and various other production related topics.
Included with this combo release are two DVD’s, the first DVD contains the film and the second DVD contains the extras. This release comes in a digipack that has three panels which all feature artwork from the film. Overall Le Chat Qui Fume an impressive release that comes a solid audio / video presentation and a wealth of extras for those who are fluent in French.