The Whip and the Body

Production Year: 1963
Release Date: 12-17-2013
Studio: Kino
Collection Number: #1436

Kurt Menliff (Christopher Lee) returns to his family's castle after a long absence only to find himself estranged.  That's not to say it's undeserving, Menliff is a ruthless, uncaring, bastard.  While his family feels great contempt for the man, they still take him in.  It's pretty obvious Kurt has returned for a very specific, maniacal reason, but thankfully for his family Lee's character is soon found murdered.

The Whip and the Body is one part ghost story and one part gothic mystery.  Bava was at the top of his game during the film's production and it shows- rich colors, dark sets, and macabre characters.  Something also needs to be said about the haunting score, the music adds so much to the overall feel of the film.

Even death cannot stop Christopher Lee!  Kurt's corpse makes his presence and intentions very clear.  While living, Menliff had a secretive sadomasochistic relationship with his sister-in-law Nevenka (Daliah Lavi), a relationship that continues even after is Kurt's demise.  You read that correctly, this film features postmortem - ghost - S&M.  While it might seem obvious at first, you, much like the characters in the film, will never know Menliff's real purpose until the (great) twist ending.  One of my favorite scenes of the film involves two characters opening Mennliff's casket to insure his body is still present.  The reveal of the corpse coupled with the atmosphere and the echoing cackle heard throughout the room make for a truly creepy experience.  Did I mention there's a twist ending!?  I've said too much.

Much like past Bava releases, Kino offers fans a nice detail-laden transfer with no signs of digital manipulation.  That's not to say it's perfect, occasionally the film does suffer from a few age related issues (lines, speckling, etc) but that has more to do with the elements of the film than Kino.  Age issues aside it's a pretty good transfer with a nice gothic color palette typical of the director.

There are a few audio options here, Italian, English, and French.  All three are presented in an uncompressed 2.0 audio.  Carlo Rustichelli's haunting score really comes through nicely and is truly essential to the film.  

Original Bava Trailers - The Whip and the Body (1963; 3:28), Black Sunday (1960; 2:07), Bay of Blood (1971; 3:07), Baron Blood (1972; 2:13), and Lisa and the Devil (1973; 3:15).  All of the trailers are of varying quality, though the trailer for The Whip and the Body seems to fare the worst.  Along with the degraded quality it's also in Italian with no English subs.  The trailers are a nice inclusion to the disc, specifically the trailers for Baron Blood and Bay of Blood which are both very well put together.

Audio Commentary by Tim Lucas - Lucas gets pretty in depth with not just the production of the film, but Bava's other film's and influences.  The guy is literally a walking encyclopedia when it comes to Mario Bava.  

The Whip and the Body is right in the middle of Bava's directorial career, while it's not his best, the film's production is a very confident one.  The cinematography, story, and direction are exactly what you would expect from the famed auteur.  While the Kino disc could use a few more supplements, it's the best looking version of this film I've seen thus far.

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