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 —

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