Mondo Macabro has long been a friend to fans of worldwide weirdness in celluloid form. However, up until recently their output had been limited strictly to DVD’s. Thankfully, the label has now decided to join the blu-ray movement and have made their debut in this format with a release of the artsy Italian S&M drama The Slave. The results bode well for Mondo Macabro’s future in this format.
The transfer is pretty impressive, particularly in its blu-ray incarnation. It was taken from the original negative and offers the film’s Techniscope framing in all its glory, with rich colors and a nice depth of detail. This transfer utilizes the original Italian mono soundtrack, presented with English subtitles, and it’s a solid mix for a film of this vintage.
The extras begin with a pair of interview featurettes. The first is with film historian Roberto Curti, who covers a lot of material about Pasquale Festa Campanile and The Slave in just under 28 minutes. He begins with a thumbnail sketch of Campanile’s career and his place in Italian film history then segues into a discussion of The Slave’s history, including biographical sketches of the different collaborators, differences between the novel and the film (most notably, the ending) and how the film was received by local audiences. Curti’s style is brisk and informative, making this a pleasant way for Euro-cultists to learn about this film and its director.
The second featurette features Justin Harries, who runs Filmbar 70, a London establishment devoted to the Italian genre cinema of the ‘60s to early ‘80s era. After a few minutes about why such films are appealing to his audiences, he discusses a number of related and interesting topics. He contextualizes The Slave as part of a “bourgeoisie baiting” trend in Italian cinema of the late ‘60s, explains how the sex comedy actually dominated the ‘70s output of Italian genre cinema and covers the different reasons that genre filmmaking came to an end at the dawn of the ‘80s in Italy. Harries has an interesting perspective and students of Euro-cult material will be intrigued by his scholarly approach.
Some text-driven supplements follow. The first is a brief “about the film” essay that covers a lot of making-of and contextual info about The Slave in about five panels. Next up are a series of text bios for stars Rosanna Schiaffino, Haydee Politoff, Campanile and composer Piero Piccioni. All are illuminating — the story of how Politoff became an accidental star and ended up with such a bizarre filmography is particularly interesting — but viewers should be sure to go to the credits sections on the Politoff and Campanile bios as they feature several optional trailers and film clips. Given the eclectic careers of this duo, there’s a lot of colorful viewing to be found there.
The final extra is the one you see on every Mondo Macabro release, their wild preview reel for their other releases: if you’ve never seen it, it’s a gonzo blur of monsters, sexy ladies and sudden bursts of surrealism.
In short, this edition of The Slave is a fine high-def debut for Mondo Macabro and a treat for fans of sexy Italian genre fare.
To read Schlockmania’s film review of The Slave, click here.