Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 21st, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1963
Director: Mario Bava
Writers: Ernesto Gastaldi, Ugo Guerra, Luciano Martino
Cast: Daliah Lavi, Christopher Lee, Tony Kendall, Ida Galli, Harriet Medin, Gustavo De Nardo, Luciano Pigozzi, Jacques Herlin
BluRay released: December 17th, 2013
Approximate running times: 87 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English, DTS-HD Mono Italian, DTS-HD Mono French
BluRay Release: Kino Lorber
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $24.95
The Whip and the Body was directed by Mario Bava whose name in the subsequent decades since his passing has become synonymous with Italian horror cinema. Key collaborators on The Whip and the Body include composer Carlo Rustichelli (Blood and Black Lace, Kill Baby Kill) and screenwriters Luciano Martino (The Virgo, the Taurus and the Capricorn) and Ernesto Gastaldi (The Strange vice of Mrs. Wardh, Your vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key).
Content wise The Whip and the Body are equal parts gothic horror and melodrama. Structurally this film’s narrative is arguably the strongest pone that Mario Bava ever got to work with. Also all of the characters are well defined and their motivations are laid out with crystal clarity.
When compared to your atypical horror films the way in which this film goes for the jugular is against the grain. Unfortunately this unfamiliar turn may lead some viewers to tune out of what is really a meticulously laid out exercise in terror that puts the weight of its shocking payoffs squarely on the shoulder of its atmospheric visuals.
When discussing the film’s of Mario Bava one area that often comes up is his use of colors. And in the case of The Whip and the Body he appears to have reached his apex in regards to his use of colors. Also this film features many themes that would become the foundation of his later films. A few of these themes include obsession, decaying families and inner turmoil.
Performance wise it is really this film’s two leads who carry this film and then some. Daliah Lavi (The Demon) is exquisite in the role of Nevenka Menliff and Christopher Lee (Count Dracula) is magnificent in the role of Kurt Menliff her sadistic lover. They have a tremendous amount of chemistry, while the rest of the cast are not much more the props used to further the story at hand. The most memorable moment in this film is a scene where Kurt whips Nevenka who starts to enjoy her torment.
Ultimately The Whip and the Body is a first rate psychological horror film that for far too long has been under-appreciated. Thankfully time has been kind to this film as its reputation continues to grow as the years go by.
The Whip and the Body comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Though the image generally looks crisp throughout and there are no issues with compression. These are just the few things that this transfer does right. First off somebody felt the need to drown portions of this film in blue and though less details is to be expected during darker moments, the darker moments throughout this transfer are often to murky. Overall this transfer is a big letdown and yet again another release for The Whip and the Body comes up way short.
This release comes with three audio options, a DTS-HD Mono mix in English, a DTS-HD Mono mix in Italian and a DTS-HD Mono mix in French. These three audio mixes fare much better than the aforementioned transfer. Dialog is clear enough to follow, everything sounds balanced and the film’s score sounds appropriately robust throughout. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles.
Extras for this release include trailers for The Whip and the Body, Black Sunday, A Bay of Blood, Baron Blood and Lisa and the Devil. Rounding out the extras is an insightful audio commentary with Tim Lucas author of Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark. This audio commentary is carried over from a previous home video release for The Whip and the Body.
Overall The Whip and the Body gets a mediocre transfer from Kino who continue to come up short in regards to their releases for the films of Mario Bava.
Note: This film is also being released by Kino Lorber on DVD.