Digi-Schlock: CAMILLE 2000 (Cult Epics Blu-Ray)

Cult Epics has done very well by Radley Metzger’s work with their line of Metzger blu-rays.  In fact, they have a racked up a rather historic achievement with their disc of Camille 2000.  This has been a problematic title on video for many years and this disc’s producers have finally assemble a disc of this title that not only looks great but also offers the viewer an insight into what is the most romantic of Metzger’s films.

Until the Cult Epics blu-ray, video transfers of Camille 2000 have always suffered from a few problems: either they’ve been edited or they’ve suffered from weak, washed-out looking elements (Schlockmania encourages its readers to check out Nathaniel Thompson’s account of Camille 2000‘s tortured home video history at Mondo Digital).  Cult Epics has not only improved on past incarnations but has also made the film available on blu-ray in two versions: the theatrical version and an extended edition incorporating an added ten minutes of scenes.

The theatrical cut was used for this review and the results are pretty impressive.  The negative element used here suffers from persistent speckling but is impressive in every other respect: the colors are rich, the detail is razor-sharp and the overall look is vibrant while retaining a genuine celluloid appearance.  The mono audio is free of defects, offering a nice clear signal that uses the Piero Piccioni score to beautiful effect.

Cult Epics has also assembled a proper set of director-inclusive extras for this disc.  Things begin with a commentary track featuring Metzger, moderated by film historian Michael Bowen.  Filling two hours of air space would be a challenge for anyone but Metzger and Bowen get through it with surprisingly few dead spots.  Bowen keeps Metzger primed with questions and the director is a genial, forthcoming subject.  Topics covered include the film’s long and involved casting process, how working in Italy allowed Metzger to maximize his budget and the complex diplomatic issues of shooting erotica in the late 1960’s in a foreign country.

There is also an “On The Set” featurette that incorporates a lot of home-movie footage taken during the production.  Metzger narrates this silent footage: there’s a bit of overlap with the commentary but it allows him to expand on some previously covered topics while introducing new ones. Fans will love the on-set footage of the bondage party sequence.

Elsewhere, there is a restoration comparison piece that shows off how much of an A/V improvement this blu-ray is as well as a collection of edited scenes.  The cut scenes are worth watching, as they add backstory for the male protagonist and a pretty decent fistfight that fleshes out his conflict with another character.  Some of these cut scenes get their own isolated segments, namely an alternative version of the “cube love scene” and what appears to be on-set footage of a striptease sequence that is pretty intense.

Trailers for Camille 2000, The Lickerish Quartet and Score round this presentation at.  The Camille 2000 trailer is particularly interesting because it simply a series of stills set to Piero Piccioni’s music.  All in all, this blu-ray of Camille 2000 gives viewers the best-ever presentation of this film on home video and adds further value with quality extras – and this makes it a must for any serious Metzger enthusiast.

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