BARON BLOOD and LISA & THE DEVIL
2-Laserdisc Double Feature Set
Early 70s Sexploitation Featuring Elkie Sommer & Telly Savalas
Here is a Still Factory Sealed Digitally Mastered 2-Laser Disc Double Feature Set of MARIO BAVA films titled: Baron Blood (36 Chapters), and Lisa & The Devil (35 Chapters). Manufactured by Elite Entertainment (Catalog #EE1234). Released 8-1-95. Cinemascope Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Extras: Deleted scenes, Workprint of the trailer for Lisa & The Devil. Original List Price: $59.98. Now Out-Of-Print (OOP).
Background: Through the suggestion of Tim Lucas of Video Watchdog Magazine, Elite contacted producer Alfredo Leone and acquired the rights to two of his most-famous productions from director Mario Bava. "Baron Blood" and "Lisa and the Devil". These were also two of Bava's most savaged films; Baron Blood was available only in severely cut versions and Lisa.. could only be seen in the inferior heavily-edited, re-shot version known as "House of Exorcism". Elite presents these films here in their full uncut versions for the first time in the United States. Pioneering Italian horror director Mario Bava shot this double dose of early 1970s Euro style Gothic horror following his classics "Blood And Black Lace"; "The Mask Of Satan" aka "Black Sunday"; and "Bay of Blood" aka "Twitch of the Death Nerve", which subsequently invented the "body count" genre popularized by "Friday The 13th"; "Nightmare On Elm Street"; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", and many others.
BARON BLOOD is a wonderfully atmospheric horror shocker, set in Austria, about a castle that's being restored (including the torture chamber!). Elke Sommer stars as a Eve Arnold, a local who spends a little bit too much time with visiting American Peter Kleist, who's somehow convinced that it would be a good idea to visit the castle in the dead of night to read an incantation aloud in the room where the sadistic "Baron Blood" was burned alive by angry villagers. The supposed effect of the chant? Why, it's to bring the Baron back to life, of course! Joseph Cotten as Baron Otto von Kleist (an Austrian Vlad the Impaler!), is perfectly cast as the edgy & ghastly beyond belief sadist, up to his old tricks. The screenplay by Vincent G. Fotre (Missile to the Moon) may have a simple plot, but in the hands of director Mario Bava, it is a marvelous exercise in style. Bava makes full use of the medieval castle setting, placing the camera to assure the most visually interesting compositions. "Baron Blood" also features a wonderful sequence where the sexy Elke Sommer is pursued through the streets by the Baron. During the chase, Bava uses light, shadow and fog to startling effect.
This exclusive Elite Laser Disc Edition was transferred from the original film negative, and restores all the scenes that were cut from the film's original American release by American International Pictures (AIP) as "The Torture Chamber of Baron Blood". The digital monaural soundtrack is good, considering the bad reputation for sound on Italian productions. Additionally, this edition of "Baron Blood" features the original musical score by Stelvio Cipriani, not the Les Baxter score used in the AIP version. Other cast members include: Antonio Cantafora; Umberto Raho; Luciano Pigozzi; and others. Also Known As: Gli Orrori del castello di Norimberga; The Blood Baron; Chamber of Tortures; The Thirst of Baron Blood, The Torture Chamber of Baron Blood.
There's no doubt that Mario Bava is one of the greatest director's around. It's not fair to call him a great "horror" director because Bava did a whole lot more than just horror. Many fans consider "Lisa and the Devil" to be the director's best and most loved film. A haunting study of death, decay and necrophilia, it lacked commercial appeal when originally released. When the film failed at the box-office it was placed on the shelf. Then, later that year the world was turned upside down by the release of "The Exorcist". Lisa and the Devil's producer Alfredo Leone then thought of a way to cash in on the success. He re-edited the film and added footage (not shot by Bava). Doing this without Bava's permission or blessings, the film would become known as "The House of Exorcism", which Bava really had nothing to do with.
The original LISA AND THE DEVIL is Mario Bava's most difficult film to see in an unadulterated form, and is one of the most beautiful & surreal horror films ever shot. Every corner of the soul becomes lost to the icy clutch of the supernatural as a young woman named Lisa Reiner (Elke Sommer) is a tourist vacationing in an ancient Spanish villa. While walking through the town square, she sees a painting that is supposed to resemble Satan. This painting leaves Lisa a bit unstable but she continues her walk. Lisa then walks into an antique store where she is terrified to see a man (Telly Savalas) that resembles the painting of Satan. Lisa rushes out of the store only to get lost in the mazy streets, and ends up flagging down a car. Inside this car is a man named Frank Lehar and his wife Sophia (Sylvia Koscina). Soon, the motor in the car begins overheating and the people don't get very far before it breaks down. Lisa finds herself stranded at an isolated & mysterious mansion with a group of incredibly neurotic individuals, and soon she is sucked into a vortex of deception, debauchery and evil, presided over by the housekeeper/butler Leandre, who is the same man she encountered at the antique store! Could he be the devil himself? A number of grisly murders take place at the mansion, eliminating one by one, all the occupants of the manor. During her stay, Lisa discovers that she is the exact double of the woman who was the unfaithful lover of the mansion's owner. Bava never makes it clear if the events of the film are real, a hallucination, or if Lisa is already dead and in hell and among the damned. This film has a haunting quality about it that stays with you long after it has ended. The performances are quite good, especially Telly Savalas as Leandre, the skulking, lollipop-chewing butler who may or may-not be the Devil. The photography on the film is beautiful as is the music score. Bava does do a great job building up suspense and atmosphere. There's story to spare here, with several murders, an incoherent gimmick having to do with wax dummies that are often indistinguishable from the corpses that start piling up, and a brash non sequitur for a climax. Even more so than "Baron Blood", "Lisa and the Devil" is as long on atmospherics as it is short on conventional narrative. Some of the camera angles and fisheye lenses are most creative, and cinematographer Cecilio Paniagua lost the zoom-lens fixation that gave "Baron Blood" a sometimes grainy look. This 1.85:1 Letterboxed transfer of "Lisa and the Devil" is even better than that of "Baron Blood". Other cast members include: Alessio Orano; Gabriele Tinti; Kathy Leone. Also Known As: La Casa dell'esorcismo; Lisa e il diavolo; The Devil and the Dead; El Diablo se lleva a los muertos; ll Diavolo e i morti; The House of Exorcism (1976 USA: recut version).
Supplements include theatrical trailers for both films, as well as various bits of footage that were cut from "Lisa And The Devil", including a more graphic shot of one murder scene. The new footage is of interest mainly to Elke Sommer fans looking for her impossibly rare & explicit nude sex scene, part of which seems to have been only shown in early European prints of the film, and part of which never had a soundtrack added. Theatrical trailers, which give away pretty much the entire story of both films, are also included, along with a section of outtakes & deleted footage.
These movies are obviously labors of love, and are quite entertaining. Director Mario Bava is certainly recognized as one of the masters of Italian horror cinema. Unfortunately, his work is nearly impossible to see on domestic Laserdisc. Thankfully, Elite Entertainment Inc. has made it possible for Laserdisc collectors to finally see two of Bava's best works in their original form, especially "Lisa And The Devil". Kicks don't get much better than seeing this unlikely double feature, fully restored, uncut & digitally mastered, letter boxed to their original 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio, and released in the video fetishist's medium of choice, the Laser Disc. Liner notes are provided by Alfredo Leone, certainly making this something that horror fans will want to add to their collections.
This 2-Disc set is STILL FACTORY SEALED!
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