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Alberto De Martino
Gérard Tichy, Leo Anchóriz, Ombretta Colli
Writing Credits:
Giovanni Grimaldi, Bruno Corbucci

The beautiful young daughter of a crazed count fears that she will fall victim to the family curse - to be sacrificed to fulfill an ancient family legend.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Italian LPCM Monaural
English LPCM Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 88 min.
Price: $99.95
Release Date: 10/18/2022
Available Only As Part of 4-Movie “Gothic Fantastico” Collection

• Audio Commentary with Film Historian Paul Anthony Nelson
• “Castle of Horror” Introduction
• “Are You Sure It Wasn’t Just Your Imagination?” Visual Essay
• “Welcome to the Manor” Featurette
• American Opening Titles
• Trailer
• Image Gallery


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The Blancheville Monster [Blu-Ray] (1963)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 22, 2022)

Given its title, one might expect 1963’s The Blancheville Monster as a flick about a deadly creature. Instead, it uses “monster” in a figurative sense and gives us a Gothic thriller out of Italy.

After time away at school, Emilie De Blancheville (Ombretta Colli) returns to the family castle and finds matters quite different than when she left. Her brother Rodéric (Gérard Tichy) runs the estate in a problematic manner, and her disfigured father hides in one of the building’s towers.

Count De Blancheville fears that a curse dooms the family, and he feels it will only end if Emilie dies before her soon-to-occur 21st birthday. When the Count flees his location, Emilie needs to find ways to escape his deadly pursuit.

Monster uses Edgar Allan Poe’s 1839 short story The Fall of the House of Usher as its loose inspiration – very loose, as it happens. Indeed, the two bear little in common, as Monster goes off on its own paths.

Unfortunately, Monster fails to find an especially intriguing or compelling route of its own. It pours on stock thriller techniques without much substance to support it.

The biggest problem here comes from the fact that a simple solution would eliminate the threat. We know that if Emilie survives for a few days, the menace evaporates.

As such, why not just keep her safeguarded for that period? Keep her in a room with 24-hour watch at the door and bingo-bango – crisis averted!

The film includes enough characters ostensibly on Emilie’s side that this shouldn’t present a challenge. Of course, if the movie pursued this logical course, it’d only last 30 minutes, so contrivances need to appear.

And plenty of contrivances emerge along the way, most of which the viewer will discern a mile in advance. Due to my ever-present desire to avoid spoilers, I’ll not discuss these, but suffice it to say few – if any – actual surprises emerge here.

Nor does much actual tension or terror. Monster comes replete with the usual roster of shady characters who boast potentially sinister motives, but none of them manage to become intriguing.

As a result, the plot feels turgid and trite. While Monster aspires to deliver a psychological thriller, instead it becomes a predictable tale with lackluster “revelations”.

At least the female actors look lovely, so though offer some eye candy, and Monster provides a professional affair. It just lacks the drama and nerve-wracking energy it needs.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio C+/ Bonus B-

The Blancheville Monster appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Expect a surprisingly strong transfer.

For the most part, sharpness appeared great. Although a few shots displayed a smidgen of softness, the majority offered nice clarity and delineation.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred. I saw no edge haloes.

Print flaws caused no distractions, as the movie showed no specks, marks or other defects. I detected no obvious signs of digital noise reduction, as the film boasted nice, natural grain.

Blacks were strong, as dark tones demonstrated solid depth. Shadows were usually positive, though a few shots exhibited a little murkiness. Overall, this became an impressive presentation.

I thought the film’s PCM monaural soundtrack held up well given its era. Music lacked a lot of range, but the score seemed fairly full and well-rendered.

Effects followed suit, with tones that came across as acceptably accurate, if a bit thin. Though the dubbed nature left the lines as a bit unnatural, speech remained acceptably concise, without issues connected to edginess, though some of the material felt a bit shrill. I felt this was a perfectly satisfactory mix for a cheap flick from the 1960s.

Note that the comments above addressed the film’s Italian version. This disc also included an English edition.

Given that the original looped all the lines – as was the tradition in Italian cinema – the English version didn’t suffer from speech that appeared less natural. The acting in the Italian presentation seemed a bit more convincing, but the English performances held up better than usual.

Most of these English dubs suffer from the worst possible actors. Though I think the Italian seems like a better fit, the English version feels credible if you really hate subtitles.

As we move to extras, we start with an audio commentary from film historian Paul Anthony Nelson. He provides a running, screen-specific look at cast and crew, genre domains and history, themes, connections to Poe and other influences, and a smattering of production facts.

This becomes an informative but erratic commentary, partly because Nelson tends to just narrate the movie a little too much, and he also runs out of steam as the track progresses. I still find a good selection of useful notes here, but the end result sputters a little too often to become consistently strong.

Called Castle of Horror, “Italian film devotee” Mark Thompson Ashworth delivers a six-minute, 49-second introduction to the film. He gives us basics about the movie in what seems more like a brief overview than a true “introduction” – especially since he includes some spoilers - but he adds a few decent notes.

Are You Sure That It Wasn’t Just Your Imagination? brings a 20-minute, 54-second “video essay” from pop culture historian Keith Allison that looks at the influence of Hammer’s horror films as well as the adaptations of Poe in this era, and aspects of Monster. We get some of this info from the commentary but brings a fairly brisk and taut overview, and I like that he’s willing to criticize Monster.

With Welcome to the Manor, we discover a 13-minute, 55-second chat with author/filmmaker Antonio Tentori. He discusses aspects of the movies, its creators and influences in this generally engaging chat – albeit one that occasionally touches on notes we hear elsewhere.

The movie’s American opening titles go for three minutes, 11 seconds. These rename the movie Horror: The Blancheville Monster and largely echo the Italian version’s credits other than the alteration of title. (For what it’s worth, the Italian edition here just calls the movie Horror.)

In addition to the film’s Italian trailer, we finish with an Image Gallery. It presents two – count ‘em, two! – ads for the movie. I guess that’s better than nothing, but not much better.

With a strong Poe influence, The Blancheville Monster hopes to deliver a taut piece of psychological terror. Instead, it becomes a fairly lackluster and predictable piece. The Blu-ray boasts strong visuals as well as acceptable audio and a roster of bonus materials. Due to fairly good production values, this turns into a competent film but it never develops into anything especially compelling.

Note that as of September 2022, The Blancheville Monster can be found only as part of a four-film “Gothic Fantastico” collection. The set also includes Lady Morgan’s Vengeance, The Third Eye and The Witch.

Viewer Film Ratings: 5 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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