|Reviews & Columns|
TV on DVD
Reviews by Studio
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
DVD Talk Radio
The M.O.D. Squad
DVD Talk Forum
DVD Price Search|
Customer Service #'s
Long Hair of Death, The
Antonio Margheriti had a long career in Italian cinema, and even quite a bit of international success. Most genre fans will recognize his name, or at least his films, like Cannibal Apocalypse, Yor, the Hunter from the Future, and Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye. Castle of Blood is considered by some to be his masterpiece, and though I enjoyed that movie, now that I've seen Long Hair of Death, the film I'll be reviewing today, I definitely prefer it.
Long Hair of Death stars the enigmatic beauty Barbara Steele, much beloved by Italian Gothic directors, in a dual role as Helen, a woman ill-treated when she tries to save her friend from false accusations of witchcraft, and Mary, who returns to the same castle many years later and seduces the vicious Kurt (George Ardisson). Young Lisabeth (Halina Zalewska), raised from a child in the castle after her mother was executed, is Kurt's wife. At first, she resisted his advances, but accepted the inevitability of the pairing and eventually came to treasure their marriage.
But revenge, though it may be slow in coming, is always on the march in Gothic films, and both Kurt and his father Count Humboldt (Giuliano Raffaelli) will see their undoing before events have unfolded completely.
The story itself is fairly standard. An unjust death, a murder, deeply held secrets, lust, power, revenge. It falls neatly into the "is she dead or isn't she?" sub-genre of thriller films, as well as the "is she a ghost or isn't she?" set. What's impressive isn't the story, it's the style. The Long Hair of Death is a very stylish film. The photography is elegant, if a tad overstated as was common at the time. The camera always seems to be in motion, zooming in on a distraught face, panning across a fraught tableau, drifting down a shadowy corridor. Every shot is gracefully designed, and pregnant with meaning. This is the kind of thing you see Italian films for: beauty for no other reason than itself.
And the performances: after Black Sunday, this is far and away Barbara Steele's best acting turn. She is haughty, mysterious, bitter and vulnerable by turns. She has everything one needs to be a top flight genre actress, and she is at the acme of her talents here. The others in the cast are great too. Ardisson plays the remorseless but emotionally unhinged Kurt with melodramatic flair rarely seen these days. And Zalewska's understated turn as Lisabeth is perfectly placed to balance out the other, more flamboyant performances.
This film is a treat for fans of the form, but even those not familiar with Italian Gothic films will find material to enjoy. The craft and moody style of the film is a joy. The transfer for the Blu-ray is sharp and clean, and does justice to the gorgeous black and white film. Long Hair of Death is Highly Recommended.
The image is 1.85:1 widescreen, and as mentioned above looks gorgeous. The blacks are deep, the whites bright, and every subtle shade of grey in between is lovingly rendered. When people talk about "glorious black and white", it's usually hyperbole, but here it's an accurate description. The film looks great, other than a few scratches visible in one scene. These are fleeting and have little impact.
Audio is dual mono PCM linear, and works well, both in the original Italian and the English dubs. No hiss or other problem can be heard. English subtitles are included.
There are a number of extras included. They are:
Video Introduction by Chris Alexander, Fangoria Magazine
At just under four minutes, this introduction sets up the film quite well. Alexander talks about Margheriti's career, and why this is his greatest film. Quite interesting.
Introduction to [sic] Eduardo Margheriti
Eduardo is Antonio's son, and spends ten minutes discussing his father's legacy and impact, as well as a few bits of trivia. Very fun.
Introduction to [sic] Antonio Tentori
Tentori talks about various themes in The Long Hair of Death and other of Margheriti's films, and refers to the film as "a summation of the Gothic genre", which is pretty accurate.
An Italian and English trailer are both included. The Italian trailer is far superior, mostly because the English narration is silly and inapt.
The Long Hair of Death is indeed in many ways "a summation of the Gothic genre", and is a very good introduction to it as well. It's an impressive film in almost every aspect. Barbara Steele gives an inspired performance. The direction is confident and stylish. It's spooky and engaging. What more reason do you need? Check this out if you have even the slightest interest in either Italian or Gothic cinema. You'll thank me.