“It’s wonderful to see things being born. To see them born… and to see them die.”
–Kurt Menliff (Christopher Lee)
After working on films that would become Italy’s first horror film, Italy’s first sword and sandal film, and Italy’s first science fiction film, Mario Bava would eventually make his way to Italy’s first sadomasochistic film. His thirteenth film, seventh credited, THE WHIP AND THE BODY had Mario Bava at the top of his game, and not yet even halfway into his career.
THE WHIP AND THE BODY was obviously an Italian film, yet the producers tried their best to mask this, even stipulating that the crew take on traditional English aliases. Bava was credited as John M. Old. It was filmed like all Italian pictures at the time, without live sound, yet to further the illusion even more, Bava had almost all the Italian actors speaking English, some only phonetically. The Italian voice track had all the original actors speaking Italian, except Christopher Lee of course. The reason behind this has never been explained, but even the English track saw another actor dubbing his voice.
A self-exiled nobleman, Kurt Menliff (Christopher Lee), returns to his homestead under the guise of wishing his brother Christian (Tony Kendall) good luck with his new marriage to the alluring Nevenka (Daliah Lavi). Kurt originally had left the Manor after an incident with a servant’s daughter, who soon after his departure had taken her own life. His reappearance is not welcomed by anyone in the household and soon is revealed that Kurt’s only intentions is to reclaim what was once rightfully his, including his brother’s wife. A brutal yet passionate flogging scene, between Nevenka and Kurt along Bava’s infamous beach, sets forth a series of events that leads up to Kurt’s murder.
Buried in the family tomb, it is now believed that Kurt is gone forever. Nevertheless, one by one, bloodthirsty revenge is acted upon those who occupy the castle. Has the ghost of Kurt truly come back to haunt them, or is it someone’s guilty conscience, catching up with them?
Candle lit corridors. Fog filled ruins. Twisted tree branches. Sticky cobwebs and darkness. Love triangles. Secret Passageways. Whips breaking flesh. The unforgettable music blaring against the backdrop, every scene in this picture is iconic. Mario Bava never fails to fill every inch of the frame with wicked set pieces and moving shadows and this is never more prevalent than within the eerie confines of Menliff Manor. He does a phenomenal job of casting suspicion on nearly everyone the camera touches, truly setting himself apart from the whodunit auteurs of his time and before. At heart a love story, THE WHIP AND THE BODY is a gothic fable so inundated in beauty and yearning depravity, you could almost forget Mario Bava is the master of horror.
Kino Lorber presents the full European cut, for the first time on Blu-ray mastered in HD from an original 35mm print. The infamously raped version, which had cut out every instance of sadomasochism due to a court case in Rome, is gone forever and replaced by this uncut version, now unleashed in its perverted pleasure upon the Region A crowd.
Bursting with the usual and masterful electric reds and exuberant blues found in coloured Mario Bava films, the picture quality here is exceptional. Flesh tones are all correct unlike other versions, where they appear far too orange. The night scenes for once feel like night, and not just darker shades of daytime. The blacks only swallow what they were originally meant to. The exterior daylight shots are mesmerizingly detailed. The grains of sand, blades of grass, waves of water, the stark rocky bluffs all now stunning and beautiful. There is a line traveling up the right side during the funeral scene, but other than that, the picture is flawless. The audio quality is uncompressed, but pops and hisses are still dominant. The original audio does work quite well with the thundering piano score, each alarming note adds to the eeriness of the film, every time it’s replayed. In my mind, there is now no other version released; definitive.
- The Whip and the Body
- Black Sunday
- A Bay of Blood
- Baron Blood
- Lisa and the Devil
Commentary by Tim Lucas, author of Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark – The commentary is sadly the only real special feature for this release, but reveals countless informational tidbits that even a seasoned Bava fan can ooh and ahh over. A must-listen!
The Video Specs:
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC (33.87 Mbps)
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1
The Audio Specs:
Italian LCPM 2.0 (48 kHz / 24-bit)
English LPCM 2.0 (48 kHz / 24-bit)
French LPCM 2.0 (48 kHz / 24-bit)
Commentary: English LPCM 2.0 (48 kHz / 16-bit)
50GB Blu-ray Disc
Single disc (1 BD)
Link To Purchase:
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