The Giallo sub-genre is one that I wasn’t too familiar with until I was an adult. I was born to a family full of teenagers and was exposed to a lot of 80s horror that I probably shouldn’t have been watching. When I was old enough to get a job, I worked for one of the now-defunct video stores and began watching a lot of Asian horror, which then led to more international cinema. When social media became a part of everyday life and podcasts started rolling out, I got introduced to so much more, including Giallo. Dario Argento was a name I recognized, but couldn’t honestly say I had anything of his until I got my hands on a copy of Suspiria.
I was not prepared for the vibrant colors and exaggerated acting. What puzzled me more was that the movie looked to be dubbed. As a bougie purist, I strongly oppose dubbing versus subtitles in the film’s native tongue. I was frustrated that I couldn’t find an Italian language track and learned that there wasn’t such a thing (until recently). This English dubbing is the intended track and the majority of Giallo films follow this tradition. I quickly got adjusted to this as I discovered I had a love for the cannibal sub-genre, which is also primarily Italian. Suspiria isn’t the most violent movie, but it has graphic violence filmed in an unapologetic fashion. The term “fashion” is best to describe Giallo style. The blood looks fashionable, the sex is fashionable, and the killer is usually clad in black fashion, including gloves. Arrow Video has embraced the sub-genre and is going the extra level recently with 4K UHD releases, including Argento’s debut THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE.
Writer Sam Dalmas (Tony Musante, We Own The Night) is an American writer living in Rome when he witnesses a woman getting attacked. She survives and her assailant runs free. Suffering from writer’s block, he becomes obsessed with the incident and believes there’s more to what he saw. He soon learns that other women in the area have been murdered and this could be related. As he draws himself further into the investigation, he becomes a part of the puzzle and endangers himself as well as his girlfriend.
Arrow has included both English and Italian tracks, but I watched with the English as the film utilized it in filming despite the post-production dubbing. The restored original lossless mono track sounds clean and still manages to boom when that killer Ennio Morricone score kicks in. The previous Blu-ray release’s special features appear to have been ported over, including interviews with Argento, actors Eva Renzi and Gildo Di Marco.
The big selling points of this new release, however, are the new 4K restoration and packaging materials. The UHD presentation is well worth the upgrade. Giallo, especially Argento films, are notable for vibrance and utilizing color schemes that pop. That kind of presentation is complimented here. What helps sell it is that THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE has a lot to do with art galleries and paintings so an upgrade like this truly benefits. In terms of packaging, the film has a Blu-ray black case that fits in a sturdy slip-box with some slick new artwork. Inside that box is also a fold-out double-sided poster as well as a thick illustrated collector’s booklet. Inside the Blu-ray case are six double-sided postcard-sized lobby cards.
Arrow has invested enough in THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE to make an upgrade worth it for those who already own the Blu-ray, but is a must-own for Argento newcomers. You can order the Blu-ray here.
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