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.

Slave-bluThe 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 Slave-03segues 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.

Slave-04Some 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.