Home Page  
 
 

Madhouse
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 2.35:1 Widescreen
  • 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 2 Discs
FEATURES
  • Brand new audio commentary with The Hysteria Continues
  • Brand new interviews with cast and crew
  • Alternate opening titles
  • Theatrical Trailer, newly transferred in HD
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Marc Schoenbach
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Booklet featuring new writing on the film

Madhouse

Dual-Format Edition
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Ovidio Assonitis
1981 | 92 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: Arrow Video
MVD Visual

Release Date: June 13, 2017
Review Date: June 12, 2017

Purchase From:
amazon.com  amazon.ca

Share:

SYNOPSIS

Helmed by legendary producer/director Ovidio Assonitis, the man behind such cult favourites as The Visitor and Piranha II: The Spawning, Madhouse is a crimson-soaked tale of sibling rivalry taken to a terrifying and bloody extreme. Julia has spent her entire adult life trying to forget the torment she suffered at the hands of her twisted twin Mary... but Mary hasn't forgotten. Escaping hospital, where she's recently been admitted with a horrific, disfiguring illness, Julia's sadistic sister vows to exact a particularly cruel revenge on her sibling this year - promising a birthday surprise that she'll never forget. An Italian production shot entirely in Savannah, Georgia, Madhouse (aka And When She Was Bad and There Was a Little Girl) fuses slasher elements with the over-the-top excess of '80s Italian terror - resulting in a cinematic bloodbath so gut-wrenching that the British authorities saw fit to outlaw it as a "video nasty".


PICTURE

Arrow Video presents Ovidio Assonitis’ thriller/slasher Madhouse on Blu-ray in a new dual-format edition. The film comes on a dual-layer disc in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The 1080p/24hz high-definition encode comes from a new 2K restoration scanned from the original 35mm camera negative.

With Arrow’s releases of slasher horror films of this type from the 70s and 80s I do always try to keep my expectations in check despite the fact that nine times out of ten the presentation exceeds them. This one, though, is on a whole other level and might be one of their best. The opening titles have a handful of marks present (minor scratches and bits of dirt) but after that I don’t recall a single blemish ever popping up again, not even a pulse or a flicker (or at the very least I didn’t notice anything). It’s extraordinarily clean, the restoration work looking to have covered every millimeter of every frame. It’s impressive.

As expected the digital aspect of the presentation is really good, but even this aspect seems better than usual. The image is especially filmic, rendering the film’s very fine grain structure rather well, keeping it natural and free of noise. The image can look a wee-bit soft, with a bit of a glow or an aura around objects in a few scenes, though I’m suspecting this may have been intentional, similar to the slight distortions noticeable—possibly from the lens used—in long shots. Still, I found details to be very sharp and depth is decent. Colours look terrific, with great looking reds (in the various shades of blood that pops up in the film) and rich blues. Black levels are also unbelievably great themselves, which lend nicely to the low lit scenes that make great use of shadow, like the candle lit sequence at the end.

Though there is a bit of a detriment to the film in having such a good image (as it is pointed out in the included commentary the effects don’t hold up as well with the improved clarity) the overall presentation makes the film look fresh and new. It really is a stunner.

9/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

AUDIO

The film comes with two audio options: a lossless linear PCM 2.0 stereo surround track and another in DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround. Admittedly I only watched the film in 5.1 surround and then sampled the 2.0 track. Either track will work where I compared, though I thought the 5.1 track had a better handle on lower levels, had better range, and made nice use of the lower frequency. In both cases I thought surround use was limited mostly to spreading music out, but quality is good and I found fidelity strong. The 5.1 track can have a more noticeable spread during a few sequences.

The commentary track mentions that previous releases of the film on DVD had shoddy audio but that’s certainly not the case here. It’s clear and clean, with easy to hear dialogue, not muffled at all. Both tracks sound good so it will come down to personal preference.

7/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Arrow’s special edition has a decent selection of supplements. The first is a rather fun audio commentary featuring members from the Podcast The Hysteria Continues. The four talk about a number of subjects, ranging from how they first discovered the film to its fate of becoming one of the “video nasties” that got it banned in the U.K., despite the distributor actually editing the film down. In trying to give history and back story they admit they had a real hard time finding information on the film so they aren’t wholly sure about its production or its release, but do cover subjects around the film, like the history of the building where the film takes place, which was formerly a funeral home and is apparently now haunted (this aspect is actually mentioned in some of the other features on the disc). But the discussion gets fun when they talk about Assonitis’ other films and the possible influences behind this one. I’m not familiar with the Podcast but the four know their stuff and keep the track enlightening and fun.

Arrow then includes a number of interviews, including one with the film’s director, Ovidio Assoniti. This quick 8-minute interview features the director explaining his reasons for making the film, goes over the films that influenced it and even talks about his favourite scene, the dogs, and gives special mention to his crew.

That interview is unfortunately a bit too quick but the other interviews are a far meatier. Actor Edith Ivey first sits down for 13-minutes to talk about her career and then this film, which she thought was a hoot to make. She also seems thrilled that film is getting some notice thanks to this release, but the same cannot be said about the film’s director of photography, Roberto D’Ettorre Piazolli. He doesn’t care for the film and doesn’t think of it as a good example of his work (despite admitting he doesn’t like rewatching his films because all he sees are the mistakes) but he still shares the look he was going for in particular scenes, and how he captured these scenes. It can be a bit technical but still quite interesting. And though he admits to not caring for the film he is still good natured about it and is happy that it is getting some new recognition.

Arrow then includes the alternate opening titles for the film, which show the alternate title There Was a Little Girl. The rest of the credits looks the same. The disc then closes with the film’s original theatrical trailer.

As usual with Arrow’s titles the booklet is another selling point. It features a rather lengthy essay by John Martin, who writes about this period in horror filmmaking, Italian cinema, Assonti’s work, and the history of this film on home video. It’s a great read so, again, since this booklet is only limited to first pressings it might be worth it for fans to pick this edition up as soon as possible.

It’s not packed but I found the supplements all fun and I’m sure fans will get a lot out of them.

7/10

CLOSING

Arrow puts together a rather great edition for this film, one which will certainly please fans. It delivers on all fronts, including a stunner of a transfer and fun selection of supplements.




Share: 



Purchase From:
amazon.com  amazon.ca  




Join our Facebook Group (requires Facebook account)

This site is not affiliated with The Criterion Collection