Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 30th, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1984
Director: Franco E. Prosperi
Writers: Franco E. Prosperi, Antonio Accolla
Cast: Lorraine De Selle, Tony Di Leo (John Aldrich), Ugo Bologna, Louisa Lloyd, John Stacy, Enzo Pezzu, Monica Nickel
BluRay released: February 7th, 2017
Approximate running times: 92 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English, Dolby Digital Stereo Italian
BluRay Release: Severin Films
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.98
Wild Beasts was co-written and directed by Franco E. Prosperi, who is most known for his collaborations with Gualtiero Jacopetti, most notably Africa addio and Goodbye Uncle Tom. The cinematographer on Wild Beasts was Guglielmo Mancori, who’s other notable films as a cinematographer include Run, Man, Run, A Quiet Place to Kill (Paranoia), Web of the Spider and Live Like a Cop Die Like a Man. The score for Wild Beasts was composed by Daniele Patucchi, who’s other notable scores include, The Man from the Deep River, Frankenstein ’80 and Plot of Fear.
Animal cruelty in Italian cinema reached its apex with the release of such films like, Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox in the early 1980’s. And while many of the filmmakers, who participated in these films have since tried to distance themselves from the acts of cruelty they orchestrated. It is difficult to absolve them of any wrong doing, since they clearly knew what they were doing and the only victims were the animals in their films.
When discussing animal cruelty in Italian cinema one most not overlook the impact that films like, Africa addio and Goodbye Uncle Tom had on what would later immerge as a subgenre known as cannibal films. So it should not come as a surprise that Wild Beasts was directed by Franco Prosperi, who also just happen to co-direct those two aforementioned films.
Content wise, Wild Beasts is far from being as graphic in its cruelty as the aforementioned Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox. And on the flip side it is not as clever about delivering its subject matter like films Africa addio and Goodbye Uncle Tom were. Ultimately Wild Beasts falls somewhere in between these two extremes.
Narrative wise, the plot is very lean and can be best summed up as a series of set pieces in which animals terrorize and in many instances kill human beings. The film’s opening setup interjects two main themes, the dangers of neglecting ones offspring and humanity injustices the animals. And while such poorly constructed narrative can often derail a film, it is not the case here as the set pieces with the escaped animals are the main attraction. With some of this films stand out moments being a couple that are eaten alive by rats, a cheetah chasing a woman in her car and German Sheppard that goes for the jugular of his blind owner. Also once the animals start attacking, the narrative moves at a relentless pace that sustains right up until the film’s shocking finale.
Wild Beasts comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Wild Beasts makes its way to HD via a solid transfer from Severin Films. Colors and flesh tones look accurate, details look crisp and black levels remain strong throughout. Grain looks natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with two audio options, a two audio options, a Dolby Digital stereo mix in English and a Dolby Digital stereo mix in Italian. Both audio mixes sound, clean, clear and balanced throughout. Included with this release are removable English subtitles.
Extras for this release include, the international trailer for the film (2 minutes 24 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles), four interviews – the first interview titled Altered Beasts with co-screenwriter and director Franco E. Prosperi (15 minutes 33 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles), the second interview titled Wild Tony with actor Tony Di Leo (12 minutes 54 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles), the third interview titled Cut After Cut with editor and Mondo Filmmaker Mario Morra (34 minutes 54 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles) and the fourth interview titled The Circus is in Town with Animal Wrangler Roberto Tibeti’s son, Carlo Tiberti (10 minutes 25 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles) and a featurette titled House of the Wild Beasts (12 minutes 42 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles).
Topics discussed in the interview with Franco E. Prosperi include, how the film was originally going to be shot in Rhodesia and why they had to relocate to Rome, how changing location lead to a change in the film’s premise, working with the animals, shooting at night and guerrilla style filmmaking to get the shots they needed, how the films he directed have always been forward thinking, his thoughts about Wild Beasts and how his films like Africa addio branded him as a filmmaker.
Topics discussed in the interview with Tony Di Leo include, how he was working on a film with composer Daniele Patucchi who recommended him to Franco E. Prosperi because of his extensive knowledge of working with animals, how he got his stage name John Aldrich, working with Franco E. Prosperi and how he was aware of the previous films he had directed, working with animals and a near miss incident where a polar bear just missed hitting him in the head, on set safety precautions and how no animals were harmed in this film, things in this film that disturbed him, the cast and how this film was not success anywhere but Japan.
The extra titled Cut After Cut with Mario Morra is a career retrospective interview and topics include, his origins as an editor, Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco E. Prosperi and how Mondo Cane 2 was his big break as an editor. Other topics include, the various collaborators her was worked with and the various films that he has worked on.
Topics discussed in the interview with Carlo Tiberti include, how for many generations his family has worked in the circus, Wild Beasts and how most of his family was involved in the making of this film, training animals and on set stories for Wild Beasts.
The Extra titled House of Wild Beasts is collection of footage that Severin Films shot for their abandoned follow documentary to The Godfathers of Mondo. The footage consists of footage with Franco E. Prosperi at this home.
The extras included here as part of Severin Films release are sustainably different, then the extras included as part of Camera Obscura’s release. And because of this both of these releases are essential for fans of Mondo cinema. Overall Wild Beasts gets a solid release from Severin Films, highly recommended.
Note: This film is also being released by Severin Films on DVD.