Digi-Schlock: SYMPTOMS (Mondo Macabro Blu-Ray)

Mondo Macabro is a label devoted to rescuing the wild and wonderful obscurities in foreign horror.  Symptoms is one of their finest achievements in this regard, bringing back a forgotten gem in visually impressive style and fleshing out the presentation with an array of worthy extras that draw you deeper into the experience.

Symptoms-bluThis disc uses a new 2K transfer done from the recently discovered negative and presents the film in its original 1.33:1 ratio.  The results are stunning, capturing both the daytime exteriors and shadowy interiors with a handsome level of detail and a rich presentation of the film’s earthy color palette (the colors in the outdoor photography are particularly gorgeous).  The mono audio is presented in lossless form and offers a balanced, clean representation of this vintage mix.

There is also an impressive roster of extras to support the main feature…

Of Vampyres And Other Symptoms (1:13:54): an impressive and artsy feature-length documentary by Celia Novis.  It was made with the participation of Larraz, allowing him to narrate his own story but focusing it primarily around the films Vampyres and Symptoms.  Novis makes novel use of animated comic-book panels to illustrate tales from Larraz’s life and uses plenty of film clips as well as new footage of Larraz attending a retrospective at the Sitges Film Festival (there’s a touching reunion of the director and his two female stars from Vampyres).

Symptoms-03You’ll learn a lot about Larraz’s distinctive take on life and art, his literary influences and his thoughts on fear.  It’s a real eye-opener for anyone ever bewitched by the films this documentary pays tribute to.

Novis Biography: a quick text piece that informs the reader about the documentarian’s cinematic and scholastic achievements.  It also provides links to her web outlets.

Eurotika (24:11): this episode of the U.K. cult movie documentary series is devoted to a retrospective of Larraz’s career, including a big section on Vampyres with input from Marianne Morris and Brian Smedley-Aston.  There are plenty of clips from his films, including some eye-popping bits from Violation Of The Bitch and Black Candles.  A sitdown chat with Larraz forms the narrative backbone of this piece and his skillfully-edited comments are entertainingly lively.  The segment also makes an interesting case for how he Symptoms-04incorporates esoteric literary and art world experiences into his work.

Angela Pleasance interview (9:37): The star of Symptoms is honest and charmingly self-deprecating as she talks about the experience of making the film.  She shares her memories of the cast and her sometimes tempestuous working relationship with the director as well as some interesting trivia (example: she replaced Jean Seberg on the film!).

Lorna Heilbron interview (17:57):  The actress offers her take on Larraz, whose direct style she appreciated, and also discusses her friendship with Pleasance and the special nature of making Symptoms plus the thrill of getting to go to Cannes with the film.  She also talks about acting in The Creeping Flesh, including a nice anecdote about Peter Cushing.

Symptoms-05Brian Smedley-Aston interview (17:04):  The editor and producer talks about the close relationship he developed with Larraz as well as his take on the director’s deliberate “outsider” relationship to the film business.  He also chats about his other film work, including the challenges of editing Performance with Donald Cammell and working with directors David Greene and Jeff Lieberman (there’s a fun Squirm anecdote).

Mondo Macabro promo reel: this little gem of international shocks and colorful weirdness remains as beguiling as ever.

Additional Info – Limited Edition: fans will want to know that Mondo Macabro is selling a limited edition two-disc version of this set exclusively through their web store.  The bonus disc is the uncut presentation of a two-hour interview with Larraz, footage that was only briefly touched upon in the Eurotika episode.  There is also a booklet with liner notes by Samm Deighan that is exclusive to this set.  If you’re a fan of Larraz, be sure to move fast as only 500 copies of this set were produced.  Anyone interested can click here to buy this set – http://mondomacabro.bigcartel.com/product/symptoms-red-box-limited-edition

To read Schlockmania’s film review of Symptoms, click here.


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