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The Bill Lustig syndrome


Blue Underground boss Bill Lustig recently gave an interview to Belgian site Cultfilms en Kultfilms, in which he discussed a number of pertinent issues, including his own career as a director, the status of upcoming titles, and, perhaps most importantly, the company’s future. Sadly, the news does not appear to be good: apparently the DVD market is currently at a stage where saturation is so high that it’s impossible for obscure titles to compete against the big guns and make a profit.

Still, we do have some nice releases to look forward to, the main one for me being the upcoming special edition of The Stendhal Syndrome, which will replace the Troma monstrosity as the official American release of this often-underappreciated 1996 gem from Dario Argento. I previously expressed reservations, based on Blue Underground’s track record of often not including Italian audio options for such films (and The Stendhal Syndrome is a film that needs to be experienced in Italian). Any fears can be laid to rest, however, as, according to Lustig:

Will you feature both the English and the Italian versions?
Yes - the English and the Italian. We just finished the transfer in high-definition under the supervision of the director from the composite, so it’s the definitive version.

Let’s just hope they remember to throw in English subtitles, unlike some of those multi-language Anchor Bay titles where the non-English dubs are essentially useless unless you speak the language.

Information has also been provided on the bonus content:

Would you consider letting Dario Argento do an audio commentary in subtitled Italian?
Well - no - we’re not doing an audio commentary, but we’re shooting an interview with him next thursday. Him and Asia and Guiseppe Rotunno, Sergio Stivaletti and the author of the book. We’re shooting those interviews in Rome on the 18th and the 19th. And when I say ‘we’ - I’m not going to Rome, it’s going to be David Gregory who works for me.

I’m slightly disappointed by the lack of a commentary (I had hoped that we’d get another of Alan Jones’ excellent efforts), but the interviews sound excellent. Sign me up for this release.

Update, April 15th, 2007 10:02 PM: Apparently Lustig was misquoted in the original interview, so “director of the composite” should read “director of photography” (i.e. Giuseppe Rotunno).

Posted: Saturday, April 14, 2007 at 9:25 PM | Comments: 17
Categories: Cinema | DVD | Dario Argento | Gialli



Is there really no commentary at all or only none with Argento's participation?

Posted by: Kamyar-MZ, April 14, 2007 8:42 PM


I read it to mean that there will be no commentary at all (he does specifically say “no - we’re not doing an audio commentary”), but I could be wrong.

Posted by: Whiggles, April 14, 2007 8:46 PM


Maybe he was referring to the fact that ARGENTO isn't doing a commentary.

But Alan Jones hates THE STENDHAL SYNDROME and considers it Argento's worst, so I doubt he will record a commentary for it.

Posted by: Marcus, April 14, 2007 10:07 PM


Alan Jones ranting about how bad the film is for its duration might be quite entertaining. :D

Posted by: Whiggles, April 14, 2007 10:51 PM


The BU release of Bird with the Crystal Plumage has Italian dub with English subtitles, so that's grounds for optimism.

Posted by: Baron Scarpia, April 15, 2007 9:57 AM


Indeed, although it’s very much the exception rather than the rule. Of all the gialli they’ve released, the only other one to have Italian audio and subs is The Black Belly of the Tarantula, which was licensed from RHV in Italy and came with Italian audio already included.

Posted by: Whiggles, April 15, 2007 9:59 AM


Isn't there also the consideration that the English version is cut, though? It would make sense - always assuming that DVD companies actually use logic - to allow the audience to appreciate the longest cut available.

Posted by: Baron Scarpia, April 15, 2007 4:19 PM


Yes, I’d forgotten about that. Presumably they’ll use the Italian cut and simply leave the missing two scenes in Italian… although I guess there’s room for them to mess up if they’re not paying attention. The Veronica Lazar scene in particular needs to be there in order for the Anna/Marie plot to work properly, in my opinion.

EDIT: Just realised that, when asked about the language, Lustig refers to the transfer having been made from “the composite”. What he means by that isn’t entirely clear, but it could mean a combination of the English and Italian cuts (although why there would need to be any combining done when the Italian version is complete to start with is anyone’s guess).

Posted by: Whiggles, April 15, 2007 4:22 PM


That's because I made a small error. The Stendhal Syndrome's transfer was made under supervision "of the director of photography" - not "of the director from the composite". That part of the interview was hard to make out because of background noise. I corrected the interview on the site.

Posted by: Wim C., April 15, 2007 6:13 PM


"Lustig refers to the transfer having been made from "the composite". What he means by that isn't entirely clear, but it could mean a combination of the English and Italian cuts (although why there would need to be any combining done when the Italian version is complete to start with is anyone's guess)."

Maybe the best-quality materials available were for the shorter international version, but they've added the two additional scenes from an Italian print? Just a guess.

Posted by: Philly Q, April 15, 2007 6:32 PM


Read my comment right above yours, please, Phil.

Kind regards,
Wim C.

Posted by: Wim C., April 15, 2007 6:38 PM


Oh, I see! So the word "composite" wasn't really there? I misunderstood your comment. Thanks, Wim.

Posted by: Philly Q, April 15, 2007 7:56 PM


The Italian version was cut too IIRC.A scene with a rubber demon doll (in a hallucination scene of Asia) with big phallus was cut before the release.Please correct me if I'm wrong (I could be,I have been before ;-))
There's a picture of it in Profondo Argento.
It's in the version I have but it's very dark and probably much shorter than intended.

I hope this release will be good.Otherwise I'll buy the Italian DVD.

Posted by: Crystal Plumage, April 15, 2007 8:09 PM


The phallus demon is definitely in the film, but only briefly, and the lighting is fairly dark (especially on the Troma and Dutch Film Works DVDs), so it’s difficult to make it out. I actually didn’t notice it until I saw the Italian DVD. In any event, this is the first suggestion I’ve heard that it was cut or shortened beyond what Argento intended (and if it was cut, it could simply have been that he decided it wasn’t working).

Posted by: Whiggles, April 15, 2007 8:31 PM


Could you please correct the quote about the "composite" in your blog-entry, Michael? I'd hate to send false information over the internet, I noticed Darkdreams quoting the interview before I did my correction as well.

Posted by: Wim C., April 15, 2007 8:58 PM


I talked about the "phallus" a while back on Horrordvds:

Not sure if these scenes got lost or anything.

I will pick this up regardless.Hell,I might triple dip even,buying the Italian disc too!
It's still the Maestro we're talking about,dammit!:-D


Posted by: Crystal Plumage, April 16, 2007 1:57 PM


Wow, thanks for the link. I’ve got Profondo Rosso but had forgotten that particular mention of the phallus. I wonder how much truth there is in the notion that it was censored - certainly I trust Alan Jones on this matter, although I do know that he is at times prone to indulging in hyperbole, particularly in his on-set previews.

Posted by: Whiggles, April 16, 2007 4:58 PM

Comments on this entry and all entries up to and including June 30th 2009 have been closed. The discussion continues on the new Land of Whimsy blog:


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