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Lisa and the Devil / The House of Exorcism(1974)
Lisa is a tourist in an ancient city. When she gets lost, she finds an old mansion in which to shelter. Soon she is sucked into a vortex of deception, debauchery and evil presided over by housekeeper Leandro.
For more about Lisa and the Devil / The House of Exorcism and the Lisa and the Devil / The House of Exorcism Blu-ray release, see Lisa and the Devil / The House of Exorcism Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on January 30, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Telly Savalas, Elke Sommer, Sylva Koscina
Directors: Mario Bava, Alfredo Leone
» See full cast & crew
Lisa and the Devil / The House of Exorcism Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, January 30, 2013
Mario Bava's "Lisa e il diavolo" a.k.a "Lisa and the Devil" (1974) and its alternative version "The House of Exorcism" arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Arrow Video. The supplemental features on this release include original trailers; video introductions to the two films by journalist and Italian horror expert Alan Jones; deleted scene; documentary film; two audio commentaries, one with with producer Alfredo Leone and Elke Sommer, and one with Tim Lucas; and more. The release also arrives with a collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic and author Stephen Thrower illustrated with original stills and archive posters, as well as reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
While visiting the ancient city of Toledo, Spain, American tourist Lisa Reiner (Elke Sommer, Baron Blood, Le bambole) witnesses an unusual fresco of the devil. Mesmerized by its beauty and the city's elegant buildings, she leaves her group and begins wandering around. Soon after, she gets lost.
A stranger (Telly Savalas, Horror Express, Capricorn One) carrying a mannequin points Lisa in the right direction. She immediately heads back to the square with the fresco, but instead enters a strange world where she accidentally kills a man she was once in love with.
A wealthy couple, Sophia (Sylva Koscina, Agent 8 3/4, The Railroad Man) and Francis (Eduardo Fajardo, Maniac Mansion), passing through the area offers Lisa a ride. But instead of returning to the city, she ends up in the countryside, where the couple's car breaks down. While waiting for their chauffeur (Gabriele Tinti, Rider on the Rain) to fix it, the travelers are approached by a handsome young man, Maximilian (Alessio Orano, The Most Beautiful Wife), who invites them to spend the night in his lavish villa.
In the villa, Sophia and the chauffeur secretly make love, while Francis takes a bath. Lisa gets spooked by a strange man who attempts to enter her room through the window and ends up in Maximilian's hands. Later on, while waiting to be served dinner the travelers are introduced to Maximilian's blind mother (Alida Valli, Senso). Then someone kills the chauffeur and all hell breaks loose.
The plot of Mario Bava's cult film Lisa and the Devil is somewhat chaotic – reality and dreams are closely intertwined and at times it is virtually impossible to separate the two. Different events are also seen through the eyes of different characters, forcing one to wonder whose point of view Bava is most passionate about. Early on it seems like Lisa will align properly the scattered pieces of the puzzle, but during the second half of the film different characters become the focus of attention.
The atmosphere also evolves dramatically. Initially, the film heads in a direction typically explored by psychological thrillers, but once the action moves to the villa various Gothic horror overtones become very prominent. Then later on they replaced with that fluid elusiveness of purpose and place that dominates many of the best psychedelic films from the '70s and 80s. The result is a truly unique film that is very difficult to fully deconstruct yet enormously enjoyable to watch.
Lisa and the Devil premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 1973 where it generated solid reviews. Its producer, Alfredo Leone, expected it to replicate the massive success of Bava's Baron Blood, but sales to foreign distributors were disappointing. Eventually, hoping to recoup his investments, Leone shot extra footage (more graphic and imitating the style of the hugely successful at the time The Exorcist) and edited different parts of Lisa and the Devil. The new version of the film, titled The House of Exorcism, was then sold to U.S. distributors, who released it theatrically in 1975.
Arrow Video's Blu-ray release of Lisa and the Devil contains Bava's director's cut of the film that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, running at approximately 95 minutes, and its alternative version, The House of Exorcism, running at approximately 92 minutes.
Lisa and the Devil / The House of Exorcism Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in aspect ratios of 1.78:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted 1080p transfers, Mario Bava's Lisa and the Devil and The House of Exorcism arrive on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Arrow Video.
Screencaptures #1-14 are from Lisa and the Devil, while screencaptures #15-19 are from The House of Exorcism.
The two high-definition transfers appear to have been struck from dated masters, quite possibly the same masters that were prepared for the different R2 DVD releases some time ago. Unsurprisingly, there are age related limitations that are very easy to spot. Most close-ups, for example, look rather soft, especially where light is restricted. Contrast levels are stable, but small fluctuations are present. Clarity, however, is consistently good, even during the dream sequences, where sharpness levels are intentionally toned down. Generally speaking, colors remain stable, but there is definitely room for improvement, especially in terms of saturation. Perhaps the best news is that there are no traces of problematic denoising and sharpening corrections. This isn't to imply that grain is evenly distributed throughout the entire films; rather that even though both look dated they also have pleasing organic looks. Finally, on both films I noticed minor scratches and flecks. All in all, the two films, and Lisa and the Devil in particular, look far better than they do on different older DVD releases, but it is also clear that there is room for various improvements. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Lisa and the Devil / The House of Exorcism Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Lisa and the Devil arrives with two standard audio tracks: English LPCM 2.0 and Italian LPCM 2.0, plus optional English SDH subtitles for the English track and English subtitles for the Italian track. The House of Exorcism arrives with only on standard audio track: English LPCM 2.0, plus optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
The lossless English track on Lisa and the Devil is good. Excluding some minor dynamic fluctuations (noticeable once the action moves to the villa), depth and clarity are consistently pleasing. Background hiss is also not a serious issue of concern, though occasionally some does tend to sneak in. There are no audio dropouts, pops, or distortions to report in this review.
Lisa and the Devil / The House of Exorcism Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Lisa and the Devil
The House of Exorcism
Lisa and the Devil / The House of Exorcism Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Films such as Mario Bava's Lisa and the Devil are the types of films that I enjoy the most seeing on Blu-ray. Unfortunately, nowadays there are only a few boutique labels left that care to give them a new life. Arrow Video's presentation of Lisa and the Devil is far from flawless, but it definitely represents a good step up in quality. Their release also comes with a variety of excellent supplemental features. RECOMMENDED.
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